I need help from the board

I had a partial structural inspection yesterday. The client called me and stated she had an 80 yr old building, multi unit (apt on top and bottom) and since June she has started to see long horizontal cracking appear on the ceiling of east side rooms, both floors.

Upon inspection, after viewing the cracks, I went to the basement and checked it first. For a 80 yr old home it was very well built and in good shape. There were no signs of serious structural concern. The sill plate was completely intact and other than a few minor non differentral cracking in the foundation wall, I could not find anything that would lead to a major “shifting” of the home. She had the home wdi inspected about a month ago and was told the same thing…sill plate good, no wdi’s, all intact.

Next, I checked the attic from a hatch. It was completely open and all structural wood visible. Again, nothing out of the ordinary, well vented with open gable and sofit vents and everything looked good.

I checked the outside of the home and the only thing I discovered was the downspouts had no elbows and water was exiting into the ground on the west side. It was apparent that this was not a new condition and this has been happening for years. I can not figure out why this cracking would be just starting now (well since June of this year) and not for the last 80.

There was no water pooling or any of the sort. No damp conditions.

Can anyone tell me…is there something that I missed??

I think it would be hard for anyone to give an opinion without both more details and actually having been there to see the situation. Maybe some type of framing problem thats not obvious due to finished surfaces. Could also be something that is changing the humidity/moisture conditions which has an effect on wood expansion/contraction. Did they install a newer mechanical system with humidity control or introduction?

If the home was 80 years old, it most likely had wood lathe walls and ceilings. I would think that after the years something is going to move of that time. It would not alarm me to see some visual cracking in the finish for a home that old especially if no evidence show movement in it’s foundation or irregular movement in the framing caused by WDI’s and rot.


Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Having lived in and renovated older homes, I have 3 questions.
First, what type and shape is the exterior siding in on that area of the house.
Second, what shape are the windows and their flashings in that area.
Third, what shape is the area of the roof in that area.

Water intrusion is a major factor in exterior and interior cracking in some homes. I’m not saying that that is the case here, but it is something to look at. Water can seep in through the roof and into the wall with no obvious points of entry.
Just my thoughts.

I agree with Marcels point… I live in a 90 year+ plaster / lathe walled home. Not uncommon to see this. The lathe moves, dries , expands , dries, humidity , cold, hot … You get the picture… I bet that is why some people like wall paper…:wink:
Is the heat on in that place? Ceiling are notorious for having cracks with plaster and lathe… The weight of the plaster alone is amazing.

Cracking in older homes is not unusual … but recent cracking that wasn’t there before may indicate something is changing. New heating/cooling systems sometimes does this, or possibly something with the framing which has deteriorated to the point where movement is now occurring. I have seen both happen.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

This brings up exactly the point I was talking about.

It is conceivable that over the years this home has been stable and no one had noticed anything regarding movement.
Well, a new owner, possibly upgraded the heating system and A/C, and all of a sudden the envioronment changed within the structure. The wall paper used to hide the cracks that were there and patched.
The new envioronment now shows cracks that maybe someone did not know were there before.

These old house react different when modern applications take affect. Why would they have lasted for a Century. It is not nice to fool with Mother Nature.
I guess the same applies to these Old Country Homes.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: