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Best way to solve internal wall and ceiling cracking issue

Discussion in 'Building' started by anb010, 26 Aug 2019.

  1. anb010

    anb010

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    Hi all

    This is going to be quite a long post so please bear with me, I will try and keep it as relevant as possible.

    We bought a 3 bed semi a couple of years ago, it is a brick build with rendered outer walls and tile roof. It is in an L shape with the shorter part of the L joined to next door. This may or may not be relevant to the issue we are trying to sort out. The build year is around 1920's.

    When we were buying we had a homebuyers survey, a more specialist survey, and then more relevantly a structural engineers report to investigate cracking on the inside and outside walls of the house. The SE report concluded there were no serious structural movement issues and that cracks in the downstairs walls were largely caused by thermal expansion, and cracking in the inside internal walls likely to be caused by either: poor construction technique when property was built, or missing or corroded wall ties, or a problem with the roof rafters (something called roof spread was mentioned).

    Now, I am looking to try and sort out the problem with the upstairs cracks to fix what is there at the minute but more importantly to try and stop it happening again, but I am not sure what is the best way to go about doing this. I have spoken to some roofers who said it would be a joiner if it was the roof joists that was the issue, the problem is that I don't know what the cause of the problem actually is. I am going to try and contact some decent builders to come over to have a look but I am worried that I am going to be given incorrect advice about how to fix the problem.

    The main area where there is cracking is the front bedroom and this is the issue that I want to try and sort out. The cracks are running horizontally along the side wall (external - no corresponding cracks at the same place externally but please see my comment below) kind of from head height to the ceiling then they progress along the ceiling in a diagonal line, this is kind of suggesting to me an issue with the timbers in the roof moving relative to the wall. Some of the cracks have been progressive over the last year or so and there is evidence of older cracks that have been filled however some have re-opened. Largest crack around 4mm wide however the larger ones do not appear recent or progressive. All the larger ones picked up by the SE report and noted as not being serious or considered significant. The recent / progressive ones are around 1mm max wide but the cracks are not level ie one side of the crack is higher than the other.

    Externally there are no cracks at that exact spot but cracking further along the wall where there is a large side window. The pattern of these cracks externally (nothing internally) suggests that when the window was replaced the brickwork above was possibly not supported properly leading to movement above. I am not sure if this is related to the first cracking issue or whether there are in fact various separate issues going on.

    Is there any way I can try and narrow down and figure out the cause of these cracks in the front bedroom so I can then try and figure out the best people to talk to in order to get these sorted? Is this something that I could do myself (keen amateur but feel a bit out of my depth with this sort of thing) I can try and get some pics up or provide more info if that would be useful. Any help would be really great and apologies for the length of this post.
     
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  3. bernardgreen

    bernardgreen

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    A photo of the inside of the loft would help.

    Roof spread can happen if the roof relies on tie beams and some of these have been removed because they were in the way when a previous owner was using the loft for storage,

    upload_2019-8-27_8-41-31.png
     
  4. KenGMac

    KenGMac

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    anb010, good evening.

    As, bernardgreen above the roof spread is as detailed [very well in images] or? in some occasions the ceiling ties are not fixed to the rafters? if you consider the "dynamics of a roof, in simple terms the roof load including [especially] tiles or slates that are really heavy are pressing down on the rafters, which in turn are resting on the wall head, if Un-restrained the walls at some time can spread [move outwards] to counteract this downward / outward movement a "Tie" which doubles as the timber to which you fix the upper floor ceiling to is inserted, with the proviso that these "Ties" must be securely fixed to the rafters. The above effect is exacerbated by the action of wind which causes a [best called] vibration, that in turn assists the roof spread.

    As for "corroded wall ties" this defect is well known and documented, it occurs when old [1920] galvanised steel wall ties corrode[Rust] the rust expands in all ties in one or more rows and the expansion of the rusting metal causes cracks, in this instance always horizontal occurs. There are remedies for this defect, suggest you search for corroded wall ties / remedial ties/ corroded wall tie removal?

    A few annotated [if possible] images will greatly assist??

    Ken
     
  5. anb010

    anb010

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    Hi, thanks for the responses. We have been having to deal with a wasps nest in the loft that is in the process of getting sorted so cannot go up there at the minute to take pictures. I've some pictures taken of the loft from when the survey was done and I'll upload some more of the wall / ceiling areas with cracking tomorrow morning. The cracking in the wall in these pics is a little awkward to see since it is inside a fitted wardrobe but these cracks are located around 2 feet from where the ceiling meets the wall and do not appear to have gotten any worse in the last couple of years. Hopefully these images will show ok...
    Edit: you can see in some of the pictures what looks like a cracked beam but it is actually the lower part of a beam fitted at an angle to the upper beam. There is still a gap between the two beams though but I don't think this is in the area where there is the cracking in the wall / ceiling below.
     

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    Last edited: 29 Aug 2019
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  7. anb010

    anb010

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    More pictures as promised. These are of the actual wall and ceiling area. If you need any more pics or info let me know.
     

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  8. anb010

    anb010

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    Hi. Bumping to see if anyone can advise... I have bought a light and extension and will be heading into the loft in the next couple of weeks for myself to see if there is anything amiss there. Failing that we have told it is potentially a case of getting some roof ties fitted (the metal things that are fixed onto the timber on top of the wall the roof sits on, and then attached a few feet down to the inside wall).
     
  9. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Those are holding down straps, and have no purpose in dealing with roof spread.

    The ceiling joists are the ties that stop the rafters spreading. If those are in order then you don't have roof spread.

    If you had a proper structural engineers report on the problem, then he should have given you the required remedial work. If not then you need an engineer's report and schedule of work, and do not rely on any tradesmen's "I think you need to do this" type opinions.
     
  10. KenGMac

    KenGMac

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    anb010, good evening, again.

    The holding down straps are intended to prevent the roof "lifting" [caused by strong winds / and suction on the leeward side of the roof] and as "woody" above have absolutely nothing at all, at all to do with roof spread, suggest you Google roof hold down straps.

    As the H/D straps are made from Galvanised steel, a magnet run over the external walls will locate them, they are about 700 / 800.mm long down the wall.

    If you are venturing into the loft, images of the connection between rafters and ceiling joists [sometimes called "ties"] would be good.

    Ken
     
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