yikes crack in ceiling

Is that a crack? When did it happen…and why?

We hear these statements more often than you might think. Imagine this scenario: it’s Sunday morning and you’re enjoying your cup of coffee while watching the news and a jagged line in your ceiling (or wall) catches your eye. Yikes! How long has it been there? And is this something you should be concerned about? Chances are the crack didn’t happen overnight. Now that you’ve noticed it, it’s time to do something about it.

There are many reasons for cracks to appear in your ceiling or wall. Some may be serious, and others may not be. Here in Florida cracks are common. The bedrock our state is situated on is limestone which is very porous and has water moving through it constantly. This movement of water through the limestone can result in unstable ground conditions. In extreme cases sinkholes will appear. In lesser cases, the ground will shift causing movement in buildings that result in cracks.

Some common causes of ceiling and wall cracks include:

  • When it’s warm out, materials will expand. And conversely, when it’s colder, materials will shrink. This movement is a key factor in the creation of cracks.
  • Florida’s middle name is moisture. It causes swelling which can lead to cracking and crumbling.
  • Faulty construction (especially in drywall) that isn’t properly sealed will create cracks.
  • Water Leaks. If there is a water leak in an upper floor bathroom, cracks may appear in the ceiling below that room. This can be serious – have a professional look at it sooner rather than later.

When you notice a crack, take a close look to try and determine if the crack(s) are new or advanced. Then take note of the material your wall or ceiling is made of. For example, older homes in Florida will have plaster ceilings that often crack due to humidity. This is common. Or if your walls are made with drywall, and the building/home is relatively new, the cracks may be the result of settling.

You’ll want to note if the cracks are narrow or wide. For instance, if they are more than ¼” wide, you may have a problem developing. Or, if the windows or door near the cracks suddenly don’t shut or open easily, the cracks may be the result of some serious settling and need attention. Another sign of a problem to look for is if the cracks run horizontally instead of vertically. Is the crack wet? If it is, this also may be the sign of a more serious problem.

The next time you see a crack in your walls or ceiling, don’t panic. Take a moment to really look at the crack and then call a professional to evaluate the situation. Catching issues early will prolong the life of your building/home and, as an added plus, will cost you less money in the long run!