Commissioner's Blog – Be aware of the signs of a stressed ceiling


david_hillyard_sq.jpg, by sroberts



Following a recent ceiling collapse at a Thornlie property, home owners are reminded to act promptly on warning signs of ceiling stress.

A ceiling collapse can cause serious injury to anyone present at the time of collapse and it can also cause extensive damage to a room’s contents and structure.

Collapses may occur because of storm damage, water leaks, inappropriate use or access to roof space, inappropriate materials or loads, or poor workmanship. 

About 10 ceiling collapses are reported to our colleagues at Building and Energy each year.

Prevention is far better than a cure in terms of the risks, costs and inconvenience associated with a ceiling collapse. Reinforcement and repairs will almost always be a more straightforward option compared to a full ceiling replacement. Knowing how to spot the telltale signs of a stressed ceiling and taking timely action is important.

Warning signs that a ceiling is failing may include a cracking sound in the ceiling, sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice, visual cracking and small circles or blisters (nail pops) in a line on the ceiling, which are a sign the plasterboard sheeting may be pulling away from the beam above it.

Good ceiling care can help prevent damage. Avoid accessing your ceiling space or storing items there – heavy loads can damage the ceiling framing or sheeting.

Roof leaks should be repaired and any moisture-damaged insulation or plasterboard should be replaced as quickly as possible.

Exhaust fans and air conditioning outlets should discharge to the outside, not into the ceiling space.

If the warning signs of a ceiling under stress are present, action needs to be taken. Owners need to be proactive and arrange inspection and repair of the affected areas.

If you see signs of failure, contact the builder in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with the builder’s response, you should consider engaging the services of a qualified building inspector to identify the nature or extent of any problems.

For more information, read the Spontaneous Ceiling Collapse guide on the Building and Energy website ( or phone 1300 489 099.

Building and Energy
Department News
03 Apr 2019

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