Diagonal Crack in Ceiling


Hi,
We're in a 45 year old raised ranch that we moved into last October. It's now Feburary. A few weeks ago a crack started appearing in the living room/dining area ceiling. It's very narrow (almost hairline) and runs diagonaly out from the outside of a corner (picture an "L" with the crack runing down and left from the lower-left corner of the letter "L"). It's a couple feet long.
We recently had a bunch o' snow (we're near Syracuse, NY) but I don't think that's it as I noticed the cracks before the snow hit.
There are also a couple of shorter but similar cracks in walls that angle away from interior doorways -- one near the ceiling crack and the other in another doorway at the other end of the house.
So, I'm trying to figure out if this is something I should panic about (roof/beams collapsing) or if it's just "old-houses-do-that-besides- it's-cold-so-wood-changes-shape" stuff. And what can/should be done.
Appreciate any help/knowledge/tips (and I hope I'm in the right group for this) and let me know if I need to post more info.
Thanks,
Jeff
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On Feb 18, 11:05 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The cracks you see are due to the structure moving. What you term a 'raised ranch' is presumably sitting on concrete blocks comprisining a crawl space. If the structure is shifting it could be settling of the foundation. How much settling and why is best determined by a structural engineer who can make recommendations for best remedies. If yours is tract home, your neighbors will have had similar problems. so ask them about it, too. Decent repairs are possible in plaster or drywall, but don't waste any money on that until the cause is corrected. HTH
Joe
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Was a new roof put on before sale? Maybe they have too many layers of shingles on, or it's otherwise settling. Or possibly they took the max number of layers off and put a single set of new shingles on, so the weight changed that way.
Does the ceilings or walls like like they're recently done? Maybe to cover up a problem the previous owners have been living with for years and fixed up for sale.
My 1960 hillside rancher here near Poughkeepsie was thrown down on a monolithic slab without proper footers. Most of it is buried enough (42" by code for frostline) but one corner and side wasn't, and I had frost heave issues. The cost of a foundation repair is something that gets a lot of homeowners to try to ignore it and do hides and repeated cosmetic repairs. Me, I bit the bullet and fixed it for good. My movement issues showed up differently, though.
Yes, houses settle and cracks show, but you'd expect the cracks would be stable after 45 years, or long fixed and no more movement to repeat them. New cracks on a house of that age that was recently sold is suspicious. Get an engineer to look at it. But don't panic about it.
Banty
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Is your roof trusses, or stick framed? Trusses change shape with different temps and snow load, sometimes, and since the ceiling is attached to them, but the walls aren't, sometimes seasonal cracks open up down below, especially along the spine of the house. This is usually at the wall-ceiling line (aka 'truss lift'), but if that joint is stronger than a nearby joint like near the top of a doorway, it can show up there, too. As long as you don't get any flaking or bubbling paint or other moisture indications, I wouldn't lose sleep, just keep track of what the cracks do as the weather changes, and check back here for an appropriate solution.
aem sends...
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I agree on the not losing sleep (haven't seen a house fall down in a long time - we'll not talk about parking garages under load..:) but - why would these be new cracks?
Banty
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This is OP's first winter in the house. I suspect previous owner patched and painted before sale, or the cracks were so hairline as to not be noticable when he bought the place. This is also the first 'real' winter in several years, in much of the country.
aem sends...
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Thanks much for all the input. I'l wait and watch what happens and have someone who knows more than I about this stuff take a look in the spring.
Jeff
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