Fallen Garage Ceilings

Fallen Garage Ceilings

All too often we see plasterboard ceilings in garages that have noticeably come away from their fixings, often resulting in complete failure of the entire ceiling.

Unfortunately, the reinstatement of a collapsed garage ceiling often falls outside the scope of CHU’s insurance policy coverage for accidental damage if the cause is due to any of the following common factors:

  • Incorrect application or spacing of fixings (nails/screws) and/or stud adhesive
  • Poor-quality glue or adhesive product
  • High humidity and differential thermal movement of the building materials over a period of time (materials expanding and contracting due to changes in temperature)

​The garage is exposed to humidity more than other rooms in the home as there is generally no insulation in the ceiling space above and it is exposed to the elements when the garage door is open. Inadequate condensation control (e.g. lack of ventilation) can also contribute to this.

Without correctly applied stud adhesive, screws and/or nails are unable to hold the weight over an extended period of time.

As soon as one nail or screw fails, this puts more weight on the surrounding fixings, and over time they too will fail.

The same issue arises when fixing points for the ceiling plasterboard are incorrectly spaced, as it results in additional load on the fixings if they are too far apart, or inadequate in number.

When a ceiling loses one or two fixing points, this places additional stress on the remaining fixings which are not designed to restrain the additional load, and consequently this can lead to ceiling failure. 

What are the warning signs?

Warning signs of the ceiling being under stress prior to collapse include:

  • A loud cracking sound in your ceiling;
  • Sagging or dropping of the plasterboard sheeting and/or the cornice; or seeing a pronounced ‘V’ where the plasterboard sheets meet or join. This can be caused by the fixings in the centre of the plasterboard sheets letting go
  • Visual cracking and/or small circles (nail pops) on your ceiling. If you can see small circles or blisters
  • (about the size of a shirt button) scattered along a straight line it is a sign that your plasterboard sheeting is pulling away from the ceiling joists.

What you can do:

  • Regularly check the garage ceiling for any changes, such as sagging, cracking or drooping. Often signs of the ceiling beginning to fail are evident, but as most of us don’t spend a lot of time in our garages this isn’t readily noticed. Make a point of having a quick look over the ceiling whenever you are in there.
  • If you do notice any warning signs, look to engage a tradesperson (either privately, or through your Owners Corporation) to attend and look at the issue. They should be able to identify if the ceiling is in danger of collapse and act accordingly.
  • Mitigate your losses. If you notice warning signs of a ceiling collapse, and are awaiting the attendance of a contractor, take reasonable precautions to protect anything valuable in your garage. This includes of course, your vehicle, and any items you may be storing in your garage that would suffer damage in the event of a ceiling collapsing. Consider alternative parking arrangements, such as parking on the street until you are certain the ceiling is safe.
  • If your building is still within the relevant builders warranty period, and the cause of your ceiling collapse is found to be a faulty workmanship related issue, you may wish to consider pursuing a claim against the builder for the necessary rectification.

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