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I have a bungalow house built in the early 1930's. It is in remarkable condition and has been well maintained. In the last few weeks a few cracks have shown up in the ceiling. There is an upstairs but I see no water damage and the area above the cracks is a crawlspace with nothing really in it. My wife has suggested tape, spackle, and paint for the repair. The cracks are ~1/16" wide now but run most of the length of the ceiling from the back wall towards the front (about 13' of a 16' wide room).

Is the tape, spackle, paint method effective? I do not want to spend $500 on a contracter for something i can do myself in 20 min of effort, but I also do not want to throw up a quick fix if it is something that really needs a greater fix. Any suggestions?

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Yes that method is effective, and would save a whole bunch of money. But, it sounds like there is something else going on here. A crack that wide and long does not just show up one day after 70 years unless something serious is happening. If the cracks had been there since the house settled, then I would say to just repair the drywall. –  Tatton Chantry Jul 28 '11 at 14:54
    
@tatton - I dont think i would say that it just showed up. It was a little crack a year ago. It did just grow from a little shadow crack of mostly the same length to a concern in the last few days. My hunch is it has to do with some serious weath fluxations (60-110) in 2 days. –  Chad Jul 28 '11 at 14:56

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If the cracks have appeared recently and are still growing (in length and number) then this potentially indicates something serious.

Before you attempt any repair - which is perfectly possible using the method you outline - get someone in to have a look so see what might be causing them.

Have you put anything up in the crawlspace recently, or taken anything out?

Have you had an unusually wet or dry spell? This will change the ground conditions possibly causing the house to move which in turn could cause the cracking.

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Yes it turned very dry and hot, followed by a cool day and back to very hot and dry. –  Chad Jul 28 '11 at 14:59
    
@Chad - it seems a bit quick but the ground could have dried out causing it to shrink. I'd get someone to look at it before doing anything. Just in case. –  ChrisF Jul 28 '11 at 15:04
    
Well seeing as you are thinking the same thing with out actually seeing it as I was with seeing it that is probably the right call. –  Chad Jul 28 '11 at 15:10
    
I did want to update that yest it was semi-serious the plaster was no longer attached to the lathe above. We were able to get it down before it fell on someone unexpectedly. While it made a mess no one was hurt but my wallet. –  Chad Aug 11 '11 at 16:56

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