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The Home Depot

Why Is My Ceiling Cracking?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Painting > Why Is My Ceiling Cracking?
Why Is My Ceiling Cracking?

Whether you’ve experienced a significant storm or your home is having other issues of wear and tear, a cracking ceiling can be cause for concern. By keeping an eye on the ceilings in your home, you will know when problems arise and you can work to repair them quickly before they get worse.


The U.S. Department of Energy knows that ceilings and roofs are important to homeowners. You will find a comprehensive guide to repairing roofs and ceilings on this website. Whether the damage occurred from a hurricane or other issues, making repairs will be important to prevent further damage to your home.


As you wonder why your ceiling is cracking, get to the bottom of the issues quickly and make necessary repairs to keep your home in safe condition.

  1. 1. Heavy Moisture

    Moisture damage from above the ceiling, either from the floor above or from damage to a roof, can cause significant ceiling damage. You may see cracks and crumbling, discoloration or peeling paint. In addition, if your ceiling has drywall tape affixed to it, the tape may separate from the ceiling and hang down in strips.


    Common sources of moisture that create ceiling damage might be plumbing leaks from the floor above, originating from sinks, bathtubs or a plumbing vent. If you have a significant storm with high winds and excessive precipitation and you suddenly notice evidence of moisture in the ceiling, it’s likely that your home suffered roof damage.


    The combination of moisture and temperature fluctuations can also cause ceiling cracks. Building materials expand with warm air and moisture and they contract with dry air and cold temperatures. The fluctuation between these two environments can cause stress on ceiling materials, which could crack the ceiling.

  2. 2. Seams and Joints

    The type of drywall installed in a ceiling and the way it was installed can have a significant impact on how the ceiling withstands time. A textured ceiling generally requires thicker drywall to ensure the drywall does not sag or crack – use 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch drywall sheets. If the ceiling is not textured, 1/2-inch drywall sheets may be sufficient for the ceiling. Another important matter for ceiling drywall installation is staggering the butt joints and adjacent drywall sheets across the ceiling expanse. Staggering eliminates stress and movement across the whole ceiling because the joints will not travel from wall to wall.


    Use mesh drywall tape and a setting-type joint compound that has a stronger adhesive content and harder surface when dry. Applying the joint compound in a too-thick layer can also create cracks in the ceiling.

  3. 3. Too Much Weight

    Because your cracked ceiling has another floor or an attic above it, it’s possible that weight and force from the floor above might cause ceiling cracks. Bathrooms on a floor above need specific floor/ceiling support to carry the weight of the fixtures. Even improperly installed insulation above the ceiling can contribute to sagging and cracking in a ceiling. If it’s not possible to remove or redistribute weight on the floor above the ceiling, you will need to reinforce and strengthen the ceiling to enable it to hold the weight efficiently.

  4. 4. Poor Foundation

    An inferior foundation can cause significant structural issues and damage to a home, including cracked ceilings. Sometimes the house foundation is set without effective drainage or the ground may even move to disrupt the foundation. Substandard construction of the foundation is another common issue that results in ceiling cracking. If the foundation does not have sufficient waterproofing under and around basement walls and flooring, this could cause the foundation to sink, which would affect the entire construction of the home.


    Ceiling cracks that occur due to a poor foundation will often occur near load bearing walls, indicating the reduced capability of the load bearing walls to support the home. If you notice foundation issues, it may be possible to repair the structural damage with underpinning.

  5. 5. Spacer Blocks for Ceiling Support

    Adding spacer blocks between ceiling joists can add strength to the ceiling. Working from above, expose the area between the joists by pulling away any insulation present. Measure the space for the blocks and cut plywood to size. Place each board into the space so they fit neatly – not too tight or you could add to the stress on the ceiling. Screw the boards into place in the surrounding joists. Replace the insulation where it goes above the spacer blocks to finish.

  6. 6. Reinforcing a Beam

    After installing the spacer blocks, install vertical plywood straps in the ceiling area to work in conjunction with ceiling beams. Generally, using screws to attach the straps is safer than nails because nails require pounding, which could disrupt the ceiling even more.

  7. 7. Covering the Crack

    After you finish reinforcing and strengthening the ceiling and beams, work to fix the exposed areas of the ceiling to finish the job. Remove all damaged drywall tape to prepare the ceiling surface. Insert new drywall screws into the ceiling through the drywall, making sure the screws go into the new spacer blocks. Apply new drywall tape and compound along the drywall cracks, pushing the compound into the crack as much as possible for superior adherence. Allow the compound to dry completely and then sand and smooth it perfectly. Prime and paint the repaired ceiling area to match the rest of the ceiling.


    Although it may be tempting to ignore ceiling cracks or cover them up cosmetically to hide them, it’s safer to figure out what issue is causing the cracking in the first place. With fast action, you may be able to minimize further damage from occurring to your home. If you cannot manage the repair work yourself, hire a professional to come in, assess the situation and provide you with an estimate for repair. Cracked ceilings are one of those home issues that always has a specific cause, so getting to the root of the problem will help you resolve it effectively. Don’t forget to utilize the Red Beacon website for additional tips and information as you work to resolve your cracked ceiling issues.

  8. 8. Ceiling Patch Services

    If you need a good service to take care of your cracked ceiling, look to Pro Referral for help. Submit a work request for ceiling patching in your local area. You’ll receive a list of possible professionals you might hire for the job. Look over the list and choose the professional you want to hire. Each Pro is background checked and licensed and insured so that you can hire with confidence. Read the customer reviews, credentials, and business profiles of all of our Pros and let a qualified professional turn a difficult project into a completed one.

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