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Cracked plaster


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I need advice on writing up cracked plaster.

1946 648sf house with cracked plaster every where. None of it appeared to correlate to settling, seismic or moisture sources. The cracking appears rather random and didn't appear loose in the areas that I sampled. Also none of the cracks were open and have been painted over several times.

I remember Kurt I think saying he ran into trouble once with this.

Ive seen lots of cracked plaster but not quite like this before.

Could it be thermally related? The house only had a single Williams wall heater. I am wondering if historically this house has typically seen wide swings in temperature instead of being controlled to 50 to 60 degree range.

If such a thing can happen could it occur in one season or does it take many seasons to develop this kind of cracking?

No pictures. Its hard to contrast the cracks in a white wall

Chris, Oregon

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I doubt that the issue is due to temperature swings. I've seen beautifully preserved plaster in houses that were vacant for years.

I suspect that in 1945, some fool did a lousy job mixing plaster.

If that be true then should there be a recommendation for correction or is it considered just wear & tear?

I don't see a safety concern right off the bat but should it be argued if they did a piss poor job that it indeed may eventually fall out on someones head?

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris BernhardtIf that be true then should there be a recommendation for correction or is it considered just wear & tear?

I don't see a safety concern right off the bat but should it be argued if they did a piss poor job that it indeed may eventually fall out on someones head?

Chris, Oregon

If it's loose, it should be repaired or, if it's really bad, replaced.

If it's just cracked then whatever desision you make is based on cosmetics.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Just tell them there's lots and lots of cracked plaster, it should be repaired, and have a plaster guy tell them how much.

What got me into trouble was a couple pages extemporizing on plaster, instead of just telling them it was screwed & should be repaired.

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Chris,

Jim K and Kurt are both right.

Your task as an inspector is to report if this condition is abnormal; not necessarily why or remedy. You did not give enough info about what kind of plaster system this is: gypsum lathe, wood lathe, single coat, etc. We would also have to know what kind of covering is on the material - lead paint, calcine, latex paint, latex acrylic, alkyd semi-gloss, etc. I have seen lots of "plaster" eggshell crack 10-15yrs after being painted with a long oil gloss paint with inadequate primer. There are just too many possible factors to consider during a property inspection. Methods, Materials and causes must be a part of our process, but, as Bill K will tell you, it really requires an expert. Do what Kurt said - Plaster is cracked and get it fixed.

I have seen plaster sagging 6-8" off ceiling and walls that has been that way for years.

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Chris,

I obviously am not Jim (better looking), but would suggest you not write the before close thing. It is their business and purchase. Of course I might say that, but we try to never write or suggest anything beyond the inspection at this point in time.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Jim, do you know anybody in our area that I can recommend as a plaster expert to consult on this?

Can I write it up like this?

Lots and lots of cracked plaster of walls and ceilings. Get an opinion from an expert plaster contractor and a bid to perform any necessary repairs before closing.

Chris, Oregon

I agree with Les about the repair-before-closing thing.

Suggest they call Ray Reed at Reed Plastering & Stucco. He's got an old-world approach to plaster & stucco. Nice guy. (Just don't bring up the subject of EIFS unless you're prepared for a tirade.)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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