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Old 10-12-2018, 10:06 PM   #1
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Sagging in center of ceiling


Looking to buy an older two-story house (built in the 20s). It has very high ceilings downstairs and then false ceilings were later installed below them. The result is, at least on ground floor, about a foot "attic" space between in all the rooms.

This is all fine and good. Except in one of the rooms- the downstairs front room, where you first enter- the entire ceiling bows or sags down slightly in the center. There aren't any water stains I can see, and the house has had a new roof put in in recent years which looks quite good.

How can this be fixed? The house foundation looks fine and I don't see any other real evidence of structural problems anywhere else, though the place certainly is a fixer-upper otherwise.
And of course, its just a false ceiling, there's another one high up behind it.
Could this be an indication that it will eventually fall?
I've just never seen anything like it before.

Last edited by jeffpas; 10-12-2018 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:15 PM   #2
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


What type false ceiling ? Is it suspended using wires ?
Is the existing higher ceiling plaster ?
What is the material of the dropped ceiling ?
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:08 PM   #3
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


It looks to be a plaster or drywall ceiling nailed to a cross span of wood beams. Thats my guess as another nearby room has this I can see that with part of the ceiling taken out.
The higher ceiling behind it is definitely plaster lathe.
I can't tell which the lower ceiling is made of without tearing into it.
But its definitely a real ceiling, not one suspended by wires.
I'm just wondering if seeing sort of thing is not uncommon in older houses with this setup, or if it flags a severe problem as I'm still considering buying the house.
Its not a huge sag downwards in the center, but its noticeable especially after being pointed out.
its strange that out of say 5 rooms on the lower floor, only the one room has this.

Last edited by jeffpas; 10-12-2018 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:47 PM   #4
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


The dropped ceiling may have been built with undersized timbers for the span and the weight of the plaster.
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Old 10-12-2018, 11:56 PM   #5
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


Its strange that only one ceiling out of the 5 rooms is doing this.
Is that structurally sound?
Could it instead be the plaster falling away from the lathe?
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:18 AM   #6
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


It was typical for those early houses to have a larger front room than any of the other rooms. Maybe they used the same structural members with a longer span that has caused the bow.
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:25 AM   #7
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


That's what it sounds like to me also - the lower ceiling joists are too small for the span.
It's not uncommon for older houses to have a new lower ceiling, sometimes to hide stuff but often to reduce the space needing heat.
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Old 10-13-2018, 06:50 AM   #8
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


If it's balloon style framing, I would keep right on walking by.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:25 AM   #9
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Re: Sagging in center of ceiling


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffpas View Post
Its strange that only one ceiling out of the 5 rooms is doing this.
Is that structurally sound?
Could it instead be the plaster falling away from the lathe?

Yes if it is plaster it could be an attachment problem or the plaster has separated from the lath if it is either of the above there will be cracking in the plaster.
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