Ceiling collapses and what to look for
The WA Building Commission has investigated some recent ceiling collapses in homes that were built between 2005 and 2009. The Building Commission inspected seven homes that had known ceiling collapses.
The conclusion found by the Commission was that positioning and the amount of adhesive applied to the timber ceiling joists to be ‘questionable’ at five out of the seven houses inspected.
The Building Commission also developed a ‘fact sheet’ for residents that may have safety concerns about their ceilings in an attempt to bring awareness to the warning signs.
“Ceiling collapse can cause damage to the contents of the room and serious injury,” WA Building Commissioner Peter Gow says.
“Causes of ceiling collapse may include incorrect access and use of the roof space; the use of inappropriate materials; or poor workmanship.”
Peter also says that the onus must be put on to the homeowner to be aware of the warning signs and to act quickly if they notice anything untoward.
“A number of home inspections have revealed that residents noticed warning signs of the ceiling being under stress prior to the collapse,” says Peter.
“Unfortunately, these warning signs were not understood by the residents and remedial work that could have prevented the collapse was not carried out.”
The warning signs of ceiling susceptible to collapsing include:
- A loud cracking sound in the ceiling;
- A sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice; and
- Visual cracking and/or small circles or blisters (nail pops) on the ceiling, which are a sign the plasterboard sheeting may be pulling away from the nails or screws.
The fact sheet also gives residents advice on what to do if they do see any of the above warning signs as well as some care tips.
Their first point of contact should be with the builder and if a sufficient response is not given then they should approach a qualified building inspector.
Home owners should not enter the roof under any circumstances (unless qualified) as hidden dangers like electrical wiring, overhead obstacles and unstable underfoot conditions pose as threats to safety.
Ceiling issues have been drastically mitigated since introducing the Industry Bulletin that enabled the maintenance of ceiling linings that were constructed around 2007/08. The Building Commission is also stringently working with the building industry to ensure all applicable building standards are being adhered to.