How Best to Repair Flaking Plaster (Ceiling)

The kitchen ceiling of my house (circa 20's) is flaking here and there. There are several areas in which pieces, of various sizes and with thickness roughly equal to several paint layers, are peeling. I could of course just pull them off, sand slightly, and repaint the ceiling. But I'd really like to fill them before I paint. My question: How best to do this, and should I use spackle or plaster? The surface beneath is solid. Thanks very much! Frank P.S. A future question will be about the plaster on the basement walls (finished basement) that is flaking AND powdering. How best to handle that, including proper prep? (I assume a moisture problem on that one, but can't detect any.)
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Peeling paint layers are often due to leaks or moisture. Before you repair the area, I suggest you search the attic for evidence of roof leaks, especially around vent pipes and other penetrations thru the roof. For the repair, use a utility knife to first chip off any loose or curled or bent paint around the holes. I would use painters caulk from a regular caulking cartridge - wipe a wet sponge over the repair area to prime it , then just sqeeze on a bit, then knife it smooth with a wet putty knife. It may take several applications, a day apart, to get it flush with the undamaged paint. This caulk is more adhesive and flexible than spackle, so is likely to stay put. Prime the repaired area with zinzzer or other primer, then paint the ceiling with a finish coat.

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Thanks very much, would never have thought to use caulk (latex I presume as you are priming with water.) There is undoubtedly a moisture problem as there is a bathroom above the trouble area. It's 20's plumbing with brass pipe. So I will probably have endless trouble over time. But a little repair now and then sure beats ripping the walls and floor up. (It's a beautiful all-tile bathroom.) Frank
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