Dealing With Cracks in Drywall
LESLIE: Rosemary in Michigan’s cracking up. No, we don’t mean her; we mean her ceiling. What’s going on?
ROSEMARY: Well, I have a problem with the ceilings in my upstairs house. I have a new vault (ph) ceiling put over an old ceiling because we did a remodel in the summer. And the existing ceiling had the problem and now I’m finding that I’m getting it with the new ceiling. The screws are coming through. I get cracks along the wall and where the ceiling are joined together, on the inside retaining walls; not on any of the outside walls. My contractor put in additional nine inches of insulation – which now we have 18 inches – but all of a sudden it’s happening again. It only happens right after the summer and it goes into the winter.
TOM: How was this additional ceiling added? Was it drywall put on top of plaster? Was it a wood frame that the drywall was attached to? Explain how it was put together?
ROSEMARY: Well, we have a wood frame house that’s 10 years old and the drywall was put in over that.
TOM: But you said they added an additional ceiling?
ROSEMARY: Yes, a contractor that we had a remodel do, he put in an additional ceiling in the two bathrooms. And where they …
TOM: Was it additional drywall screwed to the old ceiling? Or how was it attached?
ROSEMARY: Yes, yes.
TOM: First of all, couple of things. The fact that you’re getting some movement in the corners – not that unusual. That’s typically where drywall moves.
LESLIE: And not just in the corners but at that point where the walls meet the ceiling. That’s very common.
TOM: Yeah. The way to limit that is to re-tape and re-spackle it with a fiberglass mesh drywall tape, as opposed to a paper tape, which is just much stronger and more resilient to the expanding.
LESLIE: And it’s a lot easier to work with.
ROSEMARY: Yeah, actually I’ve done that two or three times. And also, right where the closet door is; right at the corners at the top has an angle or a crack that goes right up there to.
TOM: Yes. Again, that’s another common area for a crack. The next thing that you could do – if you have screws that are actually coming out, that, I have to tell you, is very unusual. And the only thing I can imagine that’s causing that is if the screws were not attached to the frame itself. If the screws were just put into the old drywall, then there’s really nothing holding them. So it might be a good idea to get a stud finder – which can actually sort of see through the ceiling or see through the walls – and find out where the beams are in that ceiling and put additional screws about every 12 inches. Make sure they’re long enough to go through, not one layer of drywall but two layers of drywall and then another inch or so into the beams. Because all of these things that you’re telling us, Rosemary, sound like you have an excessive amount of movement. Once you put a drywall screw in, it really should not fall out; there’s no reason to it. A nail, on the other hand, will work it’s way out. But a drywall screw should go in once and be permanent …
LESLIE: And Rosemary, when you’re putting in those drywall screws, make sure that as they get close to the paper of the drywall, let them twist just once into that paper. You don’t want it to pierce too much through the paper; otherwise, it’s not holding onto anything because the paper is what gives that drywall strength.
TOM: Rosemary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.