I'm trying to determine if this crack, recently painted over, is from a bad drywall tape job. The house is old (built 1959) and the crack seems to have occurred along the border of ceiling drywall panels, although I'm not totally certain. I see no water damage.

Any help about how to evaluate it--short of calling a professional--would be appreciated.

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  • Are you trying to determine whether there is water damage, vs. shifting of the frame etc..., or are you trying to determine whether you can fix it yourself? What's your course of action? Because that will determine how to proceed (call a pro anyway, take other pictures, cut a piece out etc...)
    – P2000
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:12
  • I'm confident there's no water damage here. I'm assuming I can proceed by myself/with a contractor to help fix the cosmetics. The issue I'm having is that I can't find good pictures online of how old tape issues/frame shifts manifest other than straightness. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:15
  • the tape is 1 inch wide, use putty knife and scrape some starting 1 inch from the corner and going towards it to find the tape. You might not find a tape, was newer there, just heavily mudded . Clean the mud and use new tape
    – Traveler
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Scrape open a small section and you'll quickly see if it's tape.

Dig in about 1/8in with a utility knife, maybe a section 2in x 4in. No need to cut through the entire thickness of the drywall.

If tape, continue scraping it all open and retape/remud.

Discoloration may hint at an old moisture problem. If still wet/moist, then yes, you have a different remediation problem.

If it's shifting of the framing, the seam will be cracked through the full thickness of the board. To confirm you have to dig a bit deeper with the knife. For aesthetics this still might be fixed just by retaping/remudding.

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