I don’t think I’ve ever come across a person who hasn’t thought “Uh Oh…” at the sight of a sagging ceiling. You know it’s not going to end well – so, you shouldn’t ignore that sagging ceiling!
Why would a ceiling be sagging?
- Water leak in the roof – a common reason for a ceiling to be sagging, water comes through the roof to pool on the ceiling plaster. The sagging is from a combination of the softening of the plaster and the weight of the water collected and absorbed by the insulation resting on the ceiling. Moisture will also serve as a great attractant for termites.
- Structural movement – it’s not unusual for cracks to form in plaster as your house’s structure moves, expands, shrinks, and responds to seasonal changes or even the repeated vibration of roller doors. However, structural movement can also cause ceiling plaster to stretch and sag.
- Age – as a building ages, so too does its building materials. Adhesives come unstuck, materials become brittle and worn, and cracks and sags start to form.
- Termites – whilst they don’t eat the plaster, they do eat the wood that the plaster is affixed to and supported by, causing the ceiling to crack and sag.
All too often, people see a sagging ceiling and avoid it because they don’t want to deal with the cost of the repairs. But here’s 6 reasons why you absolutely SHOULD NOT ignore a sagging ceiling:
- Increased repair costs – Ironically, money is often what stops people from dealing with a sagging roof, but ultimately, it’s going to cost much MORE if you ignore it and let the issue worsen over time.
- Health issues – Having something above your head as a potential hazard makes absolutely no sense. Here are just a few hazard scenarios to consider:
- A water leak will produce mould and you’re going to breathe in those spores and get sick;
- Termites have eaten the beams and joists in your ceiling, the ceiling sags and collapses, not only showering you with plaster, insulation and dusts, but also potentially bringing the half-eaten wood down with it; and
- If there is asbestos in your ceiling, there is a risk that once the ceiling collapses, you get a lung full of the cancer-causing material.
- Ongoing Structural Damage – Ignoring the damage won’t make it go away. It gives it time to worsen, depending on the issue, affect other aspects of the building’s structure. You may end up owning a structurally unsound home!
- Resale Will Be Tough – depending on the extent of the damage, you will find it tough to sell your home when the time comes. Buyers will be likely to get a building inspection done before signing on the dotted line. If renovations costs are too great, you’ll lose the sale.
- Fire Hazard – All kinds of electrical wiring lives in your roof space. If your sagging ceiling is due to a water leak, the combination can result in a life-threatening house fire that may not be detectable or reachable until it’s too late.
- Increased costs on utility bills – a water leak caused by a pipe rather than by rain can mean you’ll soon be paying a hefty water bill. Likewise, the damage the water does to insulation means that heating and cooling done to compensate for the under-performing insulation will see energy bills sky rocket.
What do I do if my ceiling is sagging?
It’s recommended that you contact a qualified building and pest inspector to take a look as soon as possible. They can safely assess what the root cause is and any damage that has occurred because of it. That way you’ll know exactly what tradies you need to sort the issue out, saving you time and money.
Ben Paterson is the Director of Safeguard Inspections and has 25 years in the building industry. Safeguard performs pre-purchase building and pest inspections in Brisbane.