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Question DetailsAsked on 9/2/2017

Are these ceiling cracks along taped drywall joints structurally concerning or just cosmetic?

Hi folks. We purchased this home 3 months ago and just noticed some new cracks in the living room ceiling along taped drywall joints. The taped joints are VERY visible on the living room ceiling, which I assumed was a sign of not great workmanship in taping/applying joint compound (mud) to these butt joints. In any event, we've had a hot summer after a cold winter and I assume that the cracks have appeared due to expanding/contracting of the wooden frame and have now come through the new paint job that the sellers applied before selling. My major question as a newbie homeowner - are such cracks along the taped joints of ceiling drywall panels structurally concerning, or just a cosmetic issue?

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2 Answers


This is me again (the poster). I am posting some photos of the drywall joint cracks. I can't seem to rotate the images to their correct orientation.

Answered 3 years ago by preason66


Hmmmm - I would call this structural causes, but whether it is serious or not - I would probably wait and see if the cracking spreads further, and particularly if it transitions from ceiling to walls or vice versa, and particularly if you start getting diagonal cracks coming off the (usually) top corners of windows or doors or across the walls, which are classic signs of significant movement and hence either a framing, rot/insect damage, or foundation issue.

I would wait and see a while if you can tolerate that - otherwise I would get them repaired (meaning retaping each affected joint with reinforced fiberglass tape) and see if they reappear. My gut feeling is these were repaired before the sale and this is an on-going cracking issue that will need looking into - certainly I would look carefully for wall or foundation cracking, jamming windows/doors, foundation cracks, or soil / driveway cracking outside the house which might be indicating ground movement or soil expansion/shrinkage.

The reasons I suspect structural causes - the top photo crack appears to have wrinkling of the tape and paper, transitioning into the - I presume wall to the right, and photo should be rotated 90 degrees clockwise to sit right ?). That quite narrow column between the - what - 2 doorways or passageways - also appears to have a repair arc at its top, like they covered some damage with joint compound and the finish did not match ? If that column / divider is in a load-bearing wall it is certainly too narrow to be load supporting - though the header might have been designed to span both openings.

Second photo just appears to show really shoddy or amaterish taping job - nothing to concern me there unless that taping job is covering up a lot of cracking - but generally ceiling sheet seam cracking is not signs of a major issue. Diagonal is, and wall-to-wall cracking with wide-open cracks (not hairline like your look like) perpendicular to the overhead joists and typically mid-span is a common sign of structural issues.

Third photo also appears to show a crack that has transitioned between ceiling (I presume that is ceiling at left) and wall.

These cracks transitioning from ceiling to wall (or vice versa) would normally indicate structural/settlement cause rather than just shrinkage, but I do not see anything that I would e immediately alarmed about - I would wait and see if they continue to grow noticeably on a monthly basis or taper off and stop growing. Of course, if they growth accelerates, they start opening up wide open (pencil/pen tip width or more), go diagonal, or you get jamming doors/windows or cracking/creaking sounds then I would definitely call in a Structrual Engineer (probably about $250-400 for a site visit and inspection). How long you wait before doing that depends on your crack behavior, how worried you are about this already, whether you live in an area where foundation problems are common (sinkhole, landslide, expansive soil conditions for example), available $, etc.

You might also talk to some neighbors with simiklsr age houses and ask if they are having similar issues.

Of course, if this is a new build still under warranty, then you would probably want to get it inspected in plenty of time before the warranty expires to get repairs covered by the warranty.

Here are a bunch of links to similar questions with answers FYI - you will see your cracks do not look near as bad as the ones where responders indicates an immediate inspection was recommended:

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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