Drywall is cracked at wall to celing

There are a few places where the celing has seperated from the walls (near the middle of the house) in the drywall. The seperations are about 1/4" max and run for about three feet at the longest one (between two corners for the length of that wall) The longest one is also in the bathroom. The celing is textured. The house is 14 yrs old. We live in central Mn. I am wondering if anybody can describe to me how to go about repairing this? Thanks for reading this and for any help. Ken
email pufdady at sherbtel dot net
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This is a common problem in the winter with homes that use trusses (prefabricated joist/rafters).
The rafter portion is above the insulation so gets cold, the joist portion is below the insulation so stays warm. Since both parts are connected together, they flex causing the ceiling to lift slightly from the walls causing the crack. It usually only shows where a wall and joist meet and both run in the same direction.
The good news is the crack will likely close when the weather warms, the bad news is that there is no good fix.
Most people get around the problem by installing a cornice molding along the ceiling in the areas where the problem shows. The molding must be fastened to the ceiling but not the wall. That way, when the ceiling lifts, the molding can slide up the wall and still cover the crack.
John

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The crac is there all year long and the majority of them are opposite the direction of the trusses. I would rather not use the molding . I think it would look like I was hiding somthing if I didnt use it throughout the house. Can I grind out the crack again and just tape it with a bit of an expansion joint / crease in the tape? How do I get the texture off the celing?

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You could repair the plaster but IMO, the crack would likely come back again.
If it were me, and you don't want a crown moulding, I'd install quarter-round the full length of the walls with the problem and paint it the same color as the wall. Again, fasten it only to the ceiling and not the wall...
John

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We used a very nice cove moulding in the kitchen for our truss-uplift problem. It gives a nice rounded finish to the top of the wall and is no larger than quarter-round (about 1/2" by 1/2"). It can be painted either the wall color or the ceiling color depending on the look you prefer.
John

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If the cracks are mostly perpendicular to the direction of the trusses, it's probably not truss uplift.
My second guess would be that the original drywall installers used mesh tape instead of paper tape, but didn't use a joint compound approved for mesh tape. If that's the case, you may have to cut out the mesh tape and replace it with paper tape. But before going to all that trouble, I'd try filling the cracks with joint compound or caulk. Sometimes that will hold.
--
Doug Boulter

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If the cracks are mostly perpendicular to the direction of the trusses, it probably _is_ truss uplift. It's most noticable in walls going perpendicular to the trusses in the middle of the house.
If the crack is parallel to the truss, you'd (likely) see that the crack is wider at the middle of the truss span that at the ends.
Note that not all truss uplift is seasonal. If the trusses were very wet when installed, and ceilings drywalled before the trusses dried out, then you may have a minimum "permanent" crack width plus seasonal variation on top of that.
I wouldn't try re-taping/mudding it until you knew for certain that the cracks didn't move at _all_.
As for "year long", I wouldn't want to make a bet on that. Once it's cracked the first time, it would be very difficult to tell whether it's closed up or not without getting serious and measuring it properly.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote on 19 Jan 2004:

OK, let's be clear about this. As you imply, the truss uplift effect is greatest in the middle of each truss and decreases to zero at each end of the truss.
If the wall is perpendicular to the truss, you'll see the effect in walls that are close to the center of the truss, but probably not in walls that are a few feet from the end of the truss. It should be a relatively uniform effect because, all other things being equal, all the trusses should raise by roughly the same amount. So you'd see a uniform crack along the entire length of the wall.
If the wall is parallel to the trusses, uplift will produce a crack near the middle of the trusses, and that crack will decrease as you get closer to the exterior walls.
I say "all other things being equal" because if the drywall mechanic did the right thing in some places and didn't fasten the ceiling drywall to the trusses closer than 18" or a foot from the wall, a good tape job, or clips, may allow the ceiling to deflect downward and not cause a crack there.
That's what I should have said the first time. In fact, the direction of the wall isn't, by itself, a good indicator what's going on here.
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Doug Boulter

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When cracks appear toward the center of the house, it could be something more serious than thermal expansion. Just to be safe I would check to see if there is subsidence . If house is pier and beam, vs slab foundation, you may have settling of the piers, while the perimeter foundation is relatively stable. You can check by carefully checking along the floors in all directions, to see if there is a general sinking towards the middle of the house. Then you could inspect the beams under the floor, to see if they are sagging. Cracks that emanate diagonally upwards from the top corner of door frames is sometimes indicative of subsidence of the center of the house. If it does turn out to be subsidence, the house should be jacked up and leveled, prior to trying any repairs.
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We have a basement and a poured foundation also we are on fairly sandy soil.

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First question: do you in fact have trusses??
I have had truss uplift with the trusses perp to the partition--opens in winter, closes in summer. The proper fix for this is not to allow it to happen by using special clips attached to the vertical wall--the ceiling drywall is held down by these clips and is not screwed to the ceiling within, say, a foot of the partition. I know this now, not when I built the house five years ago. I have limited the motion to the point where replastering the cove will work by going up in the crawlspace and screwing down pieces of wood to the top of the partition (after picking up the insulation). These extend over the ceiling drywall and hold it down to the level of the top of the partition. This may or may not be feasible for you to do, but it did help in my situation.

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