Is your ceiling stressed? Be aware of warning signs before collapse

This announcement is for: 
BuilderConsumerHome buyer / owner

In the wake of a sudden ceiling collapse at a Thornlie property last week, home owners are reminded to act promptly on warning signs of ceiling stress.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has published a handy guide for home owners about signs of instability in interior gypsum plasterboard ceilings and what action can be taken.

“A collapsed ceiling can cause serious injury, as well as damage to the room and its contents,” Building Commissioner Ken Bowron said.

“Prevention is far better than 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.

“If you spot warning signs that a ceiling is under stress or failing, this is the time to be proactive and arrange inspection and repair of the affected areas.

“A properly constructed and maintained ceiling should last the life of the building, so contact the builder in the first instance if you see signs of failure.”

The Department’s Spontaneous Ceiling Collapse guide highlights warning signs of a ceiling under stress, which include:

  • a cracking sound;
  • sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice;
  • visual cracking; and/or
  • small circles or blisters in a line caused by nails or screws, indicating that the sheeting may be pulling away from the joist (beam) above it.

A Building and Energy (formerly the Building Commission) investigation report published last year found that 12 consumer complaints had been received in a
six-month period concerning collapse or failure of large sections of gypsum plasterboard ceiling sheets in WA homes.

Causes of ceiling failure can include inappropriate materials or loads, incorrect use of the roof space or poor workmanship.

The Department’s guide for home owners also outlines good ceiling care to prevent future damage, such as:

  • Avoid accessing your ceiling space or storing items there – this is potentially hazardous and heavy loads can damage the ceiling framing or sheeting.
  • Arrange for roof leaks to be repaired and any moisture-damaged insulation or plasterboard to be replaced.
  • Check that exhaust fans and air conditioning outlets are discharging to the outside, not into the ceiling space.

For more information, visit the Building and Energy website or contact 1300 489 099.


Note: Building and Energy (a division within the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) was formed in January 2018 by the amalgamation of the Building Commission and EnergySafety.

Media contact:  0466 409 828 or

Building and Energy
Media release
29 Aug 2018

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