Ceiling Collapse


Hello
A large part of a lath and plaster ceiling collapsed in my sisters house last night. The house is about 150 years old, but don't know how old the ceiling is. There were no signs of cracking or problems until they heard the most terrible noise late last night. Luckily nobody was in the room when it happened.
They have been in the house for 2 years, did extensive work on the house before that (ie approx 3 years ago)without touching the cilings. The room over is a bedroom, and no change to furniture/loading has tkaen place.
What could be the cause of such an 'instant' collapse? Is it likely to be structural or just one of those things with an old house?
They are getting someone in to look asap, but in the meantime would be interested in your views.
Thanks in advance
Ciara
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did the work they carried out include putting in central heating - or something similar? I have seen one or 2 of these - the last was my next door neighbours house (and she is 84 - and was in the room at the time!) - only explanation was that: it's old (well - 1930s) and lath and plaster does tend to dry out and lose it's key - altering the atmosphere in an old house can can this to happen Cheers Andy PS: she has fully recovered!
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I had this happen to me at my last house. It was 100+ years old and needed central heating. Within a few weeks of the installation, the breakfast room ceiling had come down. What a mess! Took a whole day to clean up.
Other reasons can be wind. A friend of mine was having an extension built and there were a few bricks missing into the roof space. One night is blew quite hard and the ceiling fell in. Also think about how much hammering has been going on adjoining rooms, especially diagonally above. The wood floor will transfer the vibration.
Check the other ceilings.
jh
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Not nessesarly wind but air pressure. I did have the chance to see a ceiling fall down when a bedroom door was opened. The ceiling had been sagging for quite a while and opening the door created what must have created an air pressure difference between the loft and the bedroom.
The chances are it is just old age on the plaster.
Adam
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It happens with regularity in old houses. The most spectacular one with us was a 1.5 metre ceiling rose which came down with a slam of the front door. By some chance of fortune it landed right on top of a settee where, 3 seconds earlier, the cat had been enjoying its daily 18 hour nap. The cat had troubled itself to get up when we came in. I reckon the ceiling rose must have weighed over 100 Kilos. Dropping from a 3 metre high ceiling the settee took most of the blow. I have no doubt it could have killed someone.
In our current house we checked the ceilings when we came in
- signs of bulging - water penetration - cracks - uneven repairs - patching - best of all is if you can get in to the ceiling space and check it from above.
In the end (despite doing everything else in the house ourselves) we paid a professional plastering company to come in and remove one ceiling and do major repairs to another. A joy to watch and worth every penny.
If there are a lot of old house in your area the local plasterers will be very familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the ceilings and will give good advice. I can DIY most things but plastering is a real skill.
Gil

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k

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come on - spit it out Stuart! ;-)
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