Crack where wall joins ceiling

fandlilMarch 9, 2008

Our kitchen has a vaulted ceiling. At the high end, a crack has formed where the wall joins the ceiling. It started small and gradually got wider. I can't say how wide it is because it's very high up and I cannot reach it, but would guess it's about 1/4 inch in places. Possible causes: (1) settling of the house, which was built in 1985; (2) when we bought the house in 1991 we had the popcorn ceilings made smooth before we moved in, and this may have disturbed some sealers at the joint, if there were any; (3) inadequate or no insulation above the joint which produced larger than normal changes in temperature with the seasons (central North Carolina), and caused an instability in the joint.

Have I diagnosed the problem right? How do I go about getting it fixed (by a contractor, not DIY) before we have the kitchen painted so that the problem does not recur?

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Most commonly, this is caused by truss uplift. With today's blown in insulation, this is a common occurance. I have it in 2 areas of my house built in 1999. There was recently a discussion of this, here on the GW.

They say the reason for this is because the bottom of the truss is buried in insulation, the rest of the truss being subjected to the cold conditions of the attic. The warm part of the truss expands and contracts at different rates than the cold part, uplifting the drywall with it.

One poster said he used a new caulk called "Big Stretch" to repair this crack and it never re-ocurred. I did some reading on this caulk, and saw the demo of how it stretches and stretches and never breaks. The company says you can use it on a 2" wide crack. And it compresses well too----which is important because some of these truss uplift cracks get wide in winter and almost seal up again in summer. You can only find this caulk in Ace Hardware stores, for some reason, but you can also order it online.

Years ago, doing some reading on truss uplift, there was a clip system talked about that is installed when the trusses are put in place. I didn't insist upon it when my house was being built, as the builder didn't think it necessary. As it turns out, I was smarter than him and should have done it. Good luck--hope this info helps you. I'm sure a contractor with a scaffold could get up there to caulk this for you.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 11:28AM
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Green-zeus, many thanks for your insights. I'll go to an ACE Hardware shop this week and get some of that stuff.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:02PM
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I need to have the same type of repair done on a home we need to sell. Apparently came from a roof leak. Roof has been replaced but (of course) crack remains.

Entire inside needs painting and one painter wants to cut and replace drywall. But the ceilings have a design type texture I'm sure he can't duplicate. In the end it would probably be more visible than the Big Stretch. Does it sound like that would work in this instance? Crack is way less than 2" and runs right along cathedral ceiling and wall. Sound like a plan? I really don't know what else to do. Thanks, Sandy

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 4:56PM
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The Big Stretch should work. You may need to put in some type of backing first and do it in layers. The Big Stretch can be painted after it dries.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Terrific, its worth a try. Thanks a lot. Sandy

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 7:54PM
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haus proud - hasn't North Carolina been having a severe drought for the past couple of years? Your crack certainly could be a result of foundation settling/shifting. Are any doors or windows hard to open or have uneven gaps around the doors? Just some things that are easy to check.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 6:10AM
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Yes, we are in a severe drought now. But this problem precedes the drought by about 10 years. I think settling of the house probably contributed to the problem to some extent because a couple of doors have tended to get stuck during certain seasons and needed to get shaved.

I really appreciate the info about BIG STRETCH. I think it's the least costly way to correct the crack that I wrote about. I suppose that since the house is now over 20 years old that most of the settling is done with unless we have a quake or a landslide, which we don't usually have around here (I hope).

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 6:16PM
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