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Question DetailsAsked on 4/8/2015

I bought a new construction home 7 yrs ago . My problem is I now have an 1 inch gap between the wall and ceiling

I have a 1 inch gap btw my wall and ceiling especially in the bathrooms and this is on the second floor . I have wooden floors . I'm at a lost as to how to remedy this problem

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Few likely causes, assuming you do not have a general structural issue causing settling of the wall - check for pronounced sagging or cracking of floor beams or supporting beams or posts downstairs and in basement.

I am going to assume the wall with the gap is an interior wall, and I would guess a dividing wall between back to back bathrooms, running crosswise to the attic floor joists/trusses. Use the Answer This Question button to reply back with more location details (and photos using the leftmost yellow icon over the your Answer boxif you wish) if my guess is NOT right.

1) First likely cause, assuming my guess is right, is that this is a non-load bearing wall between two rooms, with NO supporting wall under it onthe first floor. Your floor joists sag over time - due to creep under load - and your dividing wall is sinking down with the sagging floor, breaking the joint with the ceiling drywall which is fastened to the floor joists or trusses in the attic. In this case, will continue over the years - you can caulk the gap if small, or fill with trimmed strips of drywall and joint compound and touchup paint if larger, but crack will reopen from year to year unless you put a load-bearing wall or supporting beam underneath it. In many cases this action is aggravated in bathrooms because the plumbers got lazy and cut into your floor beams improperly (or maybe properly on a long-span joist not sized for pipe penetrations) to run piping, so your floor joists are sagging more than uusual because they lost some strength. Gap will not change noticeably with the seasons.

2) Second possibility is truss lifting - in the winter (typically in most areas) the attic is cold and winter air has little moisture in it so it dries out the roof supporting wood - either full trusses, or sometimes rafters and floor joists with some diagonal supporting members down to points over or near the walls midway along the rafters. As the trusses dry out the wood shortens, lifting the attic floor (your second story ceiling) upwards - commonly 1/8-1/2" but can be more at times. In this case,the ceiling drywall in the bathrooms, being fastened to the underside of the attic floor joists, is lifted away from the intermediate walls running crosswise to the joists, creating a gap at wall/ceiling interface.

3) In snowy areas, you can have both effects - the snow load carries down through the trusses to the point where they lie across the intermediate (interior) walls that lie crosswise to the joists/trusses, pushing down on them and causing increased second story floor joist sag if the intermediate walls are not supported by walls on the first floor. This second story floor joist creep does NOT substantially recover when the snowload is removed, but the trusses do recover and go back to original shape, causing the second story ceiling to lift away from the walls. Also, when the trusses are dried out and do NOT have snow load on them, they pull up away from the walls (2 above), aggravating the problem and creating a large seasonal gap at the top of the walls which varies by season, but rarely closes all the way back up. Again, caulk for smaller gaps (paintable latex type) or foam backer rod and drywall compound for larger gaps, which again will be expected to open up at least a bit annually. (I said winter - in some areas this occurs due to prolonged wet winters causing the wood to expand and push down on the walls (with or without snow load), and then lift up in the summer when they dry out - so opposite seasons in that case, commonly in Pacific Northwest and areas with a monsoon season.

For the above fixes to fill the crack, if you are not into a bit of DIY'ing, a Handyman should be able to handle that fine - along with touchup painting as needed.

A more expensive and troublesome fix, which is commonly done now in new construction, is cutting the ceiling drywall so it fits just inside the "side" walls rather than non top of the side wall drywall, and rests on top of the drywall on the wall with the crack along the top of it, and that ceiling section is not nailed or screwed for the 2-3 feet closest to the wall with the crack (the transverse wall). That way the ceiling sheet is essentially "floating" with its edge supported on top of the transverse wall drywall all along that wall, and moves up and down with that wall. Done properly, this would be done with the ceilign sheets run perpendicular to the transverse or problem wall, so only 2-3 feet or the 6-8 foot sheet (whatever bathroom size is) is unsupported. The "side" wall joints are caulked with flexible paintable caulk so they can move a bit without opening a visible crack, and to prevent that ceiling sheet from wanting to fall down typically there is blocking put in between ceiling joists so screws can be put in at that point - parallel to and the 2-3 feet away from the transverse wall. Also, when this is done, the ceiling drywall is kept as thin as code allows (typically 1/4 or 3/8" depending on area) so it is more flexible and can move up and down with the transverse wall without cracking or breaking up. A bit more difficult to do after the fact, but doable - and if done with care, only the ceiling will need repainting after the drywall work is finished, not the side walls.

More on the truss uplift issue and drywall fixes by googling following search phrase, good images and articles pop up - truss lift drywall solution

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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