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Q&A with Handy Mac: Ceiling problem

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Same ceiling problem

An anonymous reader wrote: Q: The advice you give is so practical – I hope you will be able to assist with my ceiling problem. Our house was built about 30 years ago with an open-plan lounge/ dining area.

A few years ago, a crack developed between the lounge and dining area ceiling; another crack developed through the tiles in the entrance hall. The insurers sent a builder who came and made repairs.

The ceiling crack re-appeared; but not the tiles. Again we contacted the insurers, whose assessor said the wind had been a factor and recommended we strengthen the roof trusses, which we did when we replaced the roof a few years ago; we have a flat-roofed house.

Now the crack has appeared for a third time; I also noticed a new crack in entrance hall tiles. This time the insurers’ assessor told us the length of the ceiling was causing the cracks, and repudiated the claim.

There are no visible cracks to the interior and exterior walls of the house; there are, however, visible cracks along the cornices at various places. I have attached a few photographs. I would appreciate some advice.

I was happy to pop in. (I can’t go to see every problem sent to me; this is a free service I offer, but only if it fits my schedule). The problem intrigued me, especially as the insurers paid the first time, then refused the claim on the next two occasions; it appears everyone is guessing.

Several different scenarios could be causing the problem and I am going to go back and have another look. If we can eliminate problems at the top, then maybe we need to examine the possibility that we have some subsidence going on underground.

The fact that we have some cracked tiles and a sliding door which won’t close properly indicates that all is not well underground. I could also feel some unevenness or cracking in the screed under the fitted carpet.

I have written this to try to  highlight the fact that people often don’t examine a problem in enough depth or detail. The eye and the brain tend to focus on the obvious when this could in fact not be the cause, but rather the result.

For months I have been threatening to take my new TV decoder back, because the channels often won’t change in the bedroom through the remote blaster. (Yes, Mrs Mac allows a TV in the bedroom under duress).

This has been frustrating as I have spent the better part of the past two weeks in bed with flu, a bad back and withdrawal symptoms from stopping smoking. I had forgotten that I have a similar set-up in my study and on testing that found that the wires were not plugged in properly.

Once I got that sorted the TV in the bedroom was fine. So, the moral is: check the problem from all angles before committing yourself to wasting time, effort and money. Water restrictions are certainly highlighting pool problems. 

Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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