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Question DetailsAsked on 9/2/2017

Crack in the middle of my apartment ceiling.

Lived in the downstairs unit for 8 months.
When we first moved in it looked like the ceiling was not done properly. There was over 20 holes throughout it. We later found out the previous tenants had installed a swing in the ceiling of the bedroom.
They patched 3 holes but just left the rest. Each hole is about an inch wide and is high enough that I can fit a pencil in it and still have room left.
Excessive creaking and cracking noises that sounds like the ceiling could cave at any second when the upstairs tenants walk, and last night I heard a huge crack. Didn't discover the crack in the ceiling until this morning.
It's right in the middle of the ceiling and is about 8 inches long. Vertical crack, and on the left side the crack in the ceiling is loose and is easily lifted with my finger tips.
Looks like a slight bowing in the ceiling as well that's in the middle right where the swing would have been installed.

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1 Answer


I am surprised you moved in without first making the landlord (or by the owner as a contingency item if a purchased apartment) fix the holes. The reason most are so long is they evidently probed till they hit the joists - so the misses would typically be about 6 or 8 inches deep to the underside of the apartment above subflooring (through the open subfloor, usually 5-1/2 or 7-1/2" high timber joists in an apartment (assuming wood framing), which lie on top of the ceiling joists.

Hopefully the holes were documented on your move-in paperwork so you don't get blamed for the damage.

Just answered a question about ceiling cracks yeaterday - with a slug of links to other previous questions with answers, so even though yours sounds more serious than most of them and almost certainly of structural significance, but I am giving you that link FYI as long as I have it handy:

Unless they had a pet elephant swinging in it, a swing suspected from the ceiling joists would not normally be expected to cause structural damage unless they put in lag bolts almost as wide as the joist and quite long. But if the holes are 3/4" or 1" in diameter, that would have removed about 1/2 to 2/3 the normal joist width, so tht could have caused significant loss of floor capacity.

Anyway, a loud cracking sound with a visible ceiling crack pretty much definitely indicates a structural issue - and possibly the prior tenant or the landlord kenw it and hence the ugly repairs to the drywall. This could mean you may have a potential cause for action against the landlord or seller (as applicable), so getting an attorney on board at some point might be a consideration.

However, in pretty much any scenario I can think of, assuming you do not own the upstairs unit, a structrual failure in the your ceiling would be the responsibility of the landlord - or if owned apartments without common owner's association responsibility for structural issues - then the upstairs tenants.

Obviously, if a rental / lease where the building management is responsible for structural issues, then bring it to their attention for them to get fixed. And if that is the case, you might get the upstairs unit tenant on board too, in pressing to get it fixed because if their floor collapses into your apartment that obviously affects them as much as you.

I would start documenting this to the hilt, and talk to the person responsible for the upstairs unit about getting a structural inspection of the joists - which will usually mean opening up a few holes (maybe only about 1/2-3/4" for a fiber optic scope, maybe head size) in your ceiling - so you will have to consider mentally preparing to give them sccess for inspection and repairs.

I would definitely make sure you are OFFICIALLY in the loop on the diagnosis and repair plan, to minimize your disruption but to also maintain your personal safety and apartment security. It is also likely that any repair short ot total subfloor replacement would be done primarily from your apartment (underside of the floor), or even possibly a temporary opening up of the floor through to your apartment during the work to replace framing.

The proper person to evaluate the situation is a Structural Engineer (an Angies List Search the List category) - and I would not let the management or upstairs tenant (if they are responsible) settle for a contractor or handyman or such look at it - it should andmust be an engineer.

I would also see about either having that part of the floor made off-limits to the upstairs neighbor, or a temporary support beam and posts put under the crack area, spanning several ceiling joists, until it is analysed and repaired.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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