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I have a problem in my apartment where 2 sheets of drywall are falling from my ceiling, seemingly in the full sheet and in 2 different rooms. They are coming down in rectangle shapes, with straight edges. I'm wondering what the cause is, and there are several factors that could come into play here.

The kitchen has 1 sheet that is falling down so that I can move it with a probe, and it seems to be held up on one end by only the joint tape. The other sheet is in my living room and also looks to be held up on one end by the joint tape. These 2 sheets are not adjacent, but only about 10-15 feet away from each other.

  • I live in a fully finished basement apartment that, in the 5 years I've lived there, has not seen any real moisture problems due to being partially below grade. The end of my apartment seeing the issues is the only end that is even partially below grade, with the bottom of the windows being 50-some inches from the floor.

  • The people above me play loud music, to the point where the police have been called several times, and one of the officers was heard to say they could hear the music from a block away. This same family has several kids that run, bang, and jump around, making a lot of noise, to the point where my walls rattle, even though I only have 1 wall hanging.

  • The same people living above me had a water leak in their bathroom a couple months ago, causing it to effectively rain in my bathroom. The water spread into my bedroom (which is right next to the bathroom), causing water to run out of my light fixture there, as well as the light fixture in the hall next to the bathroom. The kitchen shares a wall with the bathroom and doesn't have any light fixtures near that shared wall.

  • I don't cook much, but I use a warm mist humidifier in my bedroom. This is at the far end of my apartment compared to the entry to the kitchen as well as the living room drywall sheet. The humidifier is under a plastic covered window that doesn't show any moisture. I've been running the humidifier the past 2 months.

  • The apartment complex has cockroaches. I don't see very many of them, but I know the people above me do, and lots of them. I can hear them walk/stomp around, and the other day I heard them enter the apartment, then start to quickly stomp around above my kitchen, presumably to kill the roaches. We've had exterminators come twice to spray for them.

As I can fairly easily hear the people above me, I don't believe I have much, if any, insulation in my ceiling. I can see some dimples in the drywall, which I'm assuming are the screws that have pulled through. The paint is intact and I only noticed this situation because of shadows on the ceiling.

I want to know so maybe I can avoid this in the future, if I caused this, or have some information for the landlord, if they try to blame me for this and it's not actually my fault. I don't want to falsely accuse my neighbors, but I wouldn't mind seeing them get kicked out, either.

Are the roaches too many/heavy for the drywall? Did the flood from above get into the kitchen ceiling, causing it to weaken? Is it all the noise/banging on the floor above causing this? Is it the humidifier? Something else entirely?

Really, it all boils down to: Does anyone have any insight as to what single or combination of the above possibilities could have caused these sheets to become detached?

  • The flood is probably the root cause. Sheetrock has no strength when wet and the vibrations from walking on the floor above will cause the screws or nails to pull through the paper. – Ed Beal Dec 22 '17 at 20:15
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First, you should let your landlord know ASAP, before the problem gets worse. The ceiling falling down is not your fault. Not reporting it and letting it continue to fall down would be.

Anyway, most of what you've mentioned is probably unrelated. Running a small humidifier is perfectly normal. Cockroaches are not heavy enough to pull down a ceiling (picturing that is pretty gross...). Loud music and tromping around (something all upstairs neighbors seem to enjoy) wouldn't put any stress on your ceiling beyond normal limits.

However, the water leak seems like the culprit -- the water may have damaged the drywall around the screws enough for the screws to pull through the drywall, causing the sheets to come loose. Or, the ceiling may have been installed poorly, with butt joints not fastened to joists and just taped together; such joints would have eventually failed anyway, but the water damage accelerated things.

  • We didn't see any leaks in the kitchen or even any water stain, so I/we didn't think about there being water up there from the flood. No stain in the bedroom or hallway, either. We did, however, see a rusty water stain immediately on the bathroom ceiling through the drywall and paint. I guess we should have checked that out before now. – computercarguy Dec 22 '17 at 19:22
  • They probably had a separate water problem in the kitchen earlier. I agree it's the landlord's responsibility to fix, and your job to tell him, preferably in writing, and certified mail wouldn't even be excessive. As a computer guy I trust you can manage words on paper, you'd be amazed how many people are not capable of it. – Harper Dec 22 '17 at 22:40

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