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Question DetailsAsked on 8/13/2013

what do if my plaster ceiling is cracking all over the place?

I have radiant heat (metal) pipes running in the ceiling and covered in plaster (2 to 3 inches) and the plaster is starting to crack all over. i have been told the layers of plaster are delaminating. Is there anything that can be done short of tearing down the palster?

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1 Answer


OK - whole slew of possible issues here, if it is as you described and I interpreted it

1) pipes should not be encapsulated in plaster - maybe you meant above the plaster in the floor joist space ?

2) 2-3 inches of ceiling plaster is WAY overloaded for either mesh or lath and plaster, so it cold well be falling off by itself just due to weight

3) if the pipes are encapsulated in the plaster, most plaster has sulfur compounds in it (a la the "Chinese drywall" issue in Florida), which corrodes metal pipes if that is what your radiant pipes are, which might cause leaks and will result in swelling of the pipe diameter (due to corrosion products), resulting in plaster splitting at the pipes

4) radiant heat pipes embedded in plaster will cause severe cracking, partly due to the constant expansion and contraction, but also due to the excessive heat drying of the plaster - normal wall plaster disintegrates when its humidity goes near zero, which imbedded heat pipes would do.

Assuming a plasterer told you tearing it down was the only option, I would agree - lets see if any other contractor types jump in here with an opinion.

If you are trending toward removal I would suggest cutting out about a 1' square in an inconspicuous spot near but not at a wall and between joists (careful not to cut the pipes work bit by bit till you see where the pipes are if a metal detector will not pick them up), and see what you can see up inside there - both in terms of where the pipes are, if they are corroded, if embedded in the plaster, is plaster delaminating, etc. Then you will have a better idea of where you are. Be aware the "pipes" may be plastic,, so you have to be very careful picking away at the plaster to start with - wetting it should soften it so it scrapes or gouges away easier.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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