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Our_NewHome
Cracks where ceiling and wall meet
Our_NewHome

Greetings,
We purchased our townhome in Northern Virginia in 2014 and recently started noticing some cracks where the ceiling and wall meet. The house was built in 2009 and is three stories tall. All of the cracking appears to be occurring on the top level of the townhome, primarily in the master bathroom and one of the other bedrooms. We have also recently noticed similar cracking starting in a separate bedroom. There are also a lot of “nail pops” starting to appear throughout the house, so we know that screws were not used by the builder and perhaps this might be contributing to the issue?

Can you tell us what might be going on and what we should do to fix it and prevent it from getting worse?

Pictures attached at the below flickr photo album since we could not upload:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157664482387869

Thank you,
Joe and Mary

Jack
Re: Cracks where ceiling and wall meet
Jack

I would guess you have what is called truss lift. To solve the problem you need to install clips to hold the truss to the walls. It usually happens when the trusses are nailed to the walls rather than using clips.

Jack

ordjen
Re: Cracks where ceiling and wall meet
ordjen

Jack,

Just curious as to what is involved in installing such clips? Would the ceiling have to be opened? One way or the other, all the corners have to be re-taped and extensive painting done.

Question: given that there is movement taking place and it will probably continue with the seasonal changes, would something like a crown molding mask this movement? It would seem to me that crown would possibly be less costly and disruptive than what would be involved with the clips.

Hey, as a carpenter, I am a pretty good painter! :) I have run across minor truss lift before on painting contracts, but never anything near this bad. Re-taping was sufficient on those ( at least I never got a call back). Do trusses stabilize with time? One would hope they were built from reasonably dry lumber at the factory!

dj1
Re: Cracks where ceiling and wall meet
dj1

"Just curious as to what is involved in installing such clips? Would the ceiling have to be opened?"

In most cases where there is attic access, the clips/connectors can be installed from the attic.

Earthquake and high wind areas require lots of connectors: roof deck to trusses or rafters, rafters to top plates, joists to top plates... and others. This home was built in 2009, according to the poster, it should have these connectors in place. I don't know any place around the continental USA that has no winds.

To the poster: can you climb up into the attic to see what's going on in there where the trusses rest on the top plates?

Mastercarpentry
Re: Cracks where ceiling and wall meet
Mastercarpentry

Minor truss lift can be alleviated with the clips, but I've seen trusses lift almost 3/4" due to seasonal humidity and temperature changes and if you attempt to stop that much movement something is going to be over-stressed somewhere and fail. Plus I've seen clear-span trusses which specified that no connections were to be made mid-span- only the ends could be attached to maintain proper engineering techniques. I worked as the punch-carpenter for a short time with a company which used those because only their exterior walls were load-bearing; all interior walls were lightweight metal studding. Just because it works on paper doesn't make it work well in the real world and while most truss systems are OK, I will always prefer rafter construction where you can compensate for the reality of an imperfect world.

Phil

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