2nd Floor Wall and Ceiling Cracks

Originally Posted By: Cathy Suter
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Picture this: 80 yr. old two story brick house. The bedrooms on the 2nd floor evidence excessive cracking…horizontally almost all the way around where the walls meet the ceiling, typical cracks around doors and windows…lots and lots of cracks. There are no moisture stains and the cracks all seem to be confined to the interior finish, the exterior brick walls and mortar joints look OK, as do the ridgeline and visible portions of the foundation. The doors and windows all open and close OK. Furthermore, the first floor is relatively OK, crack-wise. Here’s what I know… the roof was replaced about a year ago, but the current tenant (a priest, no kidding) swears the cracks were there before. There was some kind of interior renovation over 15 years ago, no details. What do you guys think? Thanks for your time and experience.

Originally Posted By: dharris
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A priest swearing that the cracks were there would raise a red flag to me.

We recently had a priest swear that a rock smashed his car window when in fact it was a person that was killed

I think I would recommend a total evaluation of structure and surrounding grounds by a qualified, impartial atheist or baptist structural engineer

Originally Posted By: psabados
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You stated that the lower level was rehabbed about 15 years ago correct. Were the walls completely stripped and replaced with drywall, or was it a new plaster install?

Next. Is the cracking gaps at the ceiling area all uniform in size? Or is it wowwing (widening and narrowing along the wall). Also are these cracks on all walls or just the exterior? Did you see any bowing or flexing on the exterior brick walls?

Another question. When the first floor was rehabbed, was any new work performed in the basement area, like new beams, sill plate replacement etc?

Did you take any pics?


Originally Posted By: aslimack
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Where do you live? A cold climate? If the house has been vacant without heat for an extended amount of time in a colder climate, you can have excessive cracking like you describe. Its a good idea to maintain a 50-60 degree temperature in a home in a cold climate during winter for this reason. (And others) Even if your out of town. ( Ex. Vacation in Florida) Due to the different reaction of different materials to the excessive temperature changes, the cracks appear. Plaster will react differently, as in expand and contract differently, than the wood structure behind it.