Many homes in Chattanooga built before the 1950’s weren’t using Drywall as a surface for walls and ceilings. Before Drywall it was common to use plaster surfaces. Plaster isn’t like drywall, it is very rigid and instead of giving like drywall does you will see cracking in a lot of different spots and especially at weak sections in the house. Weak spots are places like windows and doors and very common in places that have a lot of load bearing capacity like fireplaces.
It can be very concerning to walk in the house and to see cracking everywhere. Cracking in plaster is due to differential settlement which occurs in every house over its lifespan. As the house settles, you can begin to see cracks form at different places in the walls and ceilings.
Cracks will often form in a diagonal pattern from that weak spot and point of stress towards the ceiling and other openings of the wall. The more a house settles the more cracks that will begin to appear, and is very common as a cosmetic issue. If it continues to settle, sections of the plaster can often break off in pieces and fall to the floor.
If you notice cracks appearing after you have patched and repaired with latex acrylic, or if the cracks are quite large then it is best to call in a structural engineer and see if the cracks go through to the foundation.
You can always try to patch any crack that appears, or you can replace the plaster with drywall and use that time to update the electrical system that so often is outdated at the time the plaster was put up.
If a crack continues to develop and get bigger after you have repaired with a flex acrylic then it is quite possible that settling is still continuing and may be a signal that you might have a deeper problem in the foundation.
If you have any questions about plaster and lath or if you notice cracks beginning to appear in your drywall, ceiling or plaster then call Potts Home Inspections Chattanooga Tennessee to investigate further and assist in the next process