Cracks in ceilings: When to worry and when to relax

crack in ceiling
(Image credit: Getty)

There’s something about cracks in ceilings that can be particularly unnerving. Even the smallest fissures appearing above our heads can fuel suspicions that heavyweight chunks of plaster are poised to come raining down and inflict serious injury — and repairing old ceilings can be a daunting task. 

But, although cracking may in some cases be a symptom of serious structural problems, more often than not it’s simply a sign of the building ageing rather than a portend of imminent collapse. So how can you tell whether your ceiling is just getting a bit ‘past it’, or is desperately trying to warn you that something ominous is lurking behind the scenes?

Ian Rock
Ian Rock

Chartered surveyor Ian Rock FRICS is the author of the Loft Conversion Manual and is founder of

Ian Rock

Chartered surveyor Ian Rock MRICS is a director is and the author of eight popular Haynes House Manuals, including the Home Extension Manual, the Self Build Manual and Period Property Manual.

Ian is also the founder of Zennor Consultants. In addition to providing house surveys, Zennor Consultants provide professional guidance on property refurbishment and maintenance as well as advising on the design and construction of home extensions and loft conversions, including planning and Building Regulations compliance.

Ian has recently added a 100m2 extension to his home; he designed and project managed the build and completed much of the interior fit-out on a DIY basis.