How to lose 400 square feet in a jiffy

My house lost about 400 usable square feet today.

I got my wife a new chandelier for Christmas, and today I was finally going to install it. The last part of the old chandelier was a little bracket. I noticed the ceiling sagged about an inch or two as this small piece came out.

Feeling around, I found an amazing 3″ gap between the bottom of the outlet box and the top of the ceiling drywall. Yikes!

As I pondered my next step, I heard nails pop as the ceiling sagged a little further.

I tried pushing up, but after about 1″ of travel, I heard awful sounds.

I went across the street and asked a neighbor what he thought. As we were talking, my wife ran out the front door and exclaimed that a huge crack formed above her head. Indeed, a five-plus foot crack formed near our ceiling fan and ran crookedly towards the dining room area.

At that point, the neighbor was sure the ceiling was a lost cause. His advice confirmed my suspicion: replacement will happen, get your stuff out now!

My wife and I immediately scurried around the room to remove as many exposed items as possible

10 minutes of scurrying later, as I was putting our TV in the hallway, CRACK CRACK BANG! Most of the main room’s ceiling fell to the floor. Nobody was hit, fortunately.

Here’s a picture taken about 10 minutes after the crash:

All the speckles are airborne Rockwool insulation particles.

Similar shot without the flash:

Looking to the front windows:

Our buffet table:

Looking in from the garage:

Jennifer was standing right inside the door at this point and quickly ducked outside when she heard the collapsing. I had to clear this out later so that we could shut that door.

This is where our TV goes:

Good thing I got it out!

Most of the ceiling is gone, but the fan amazingly appears undamaged:

This is the ceiling box that held the fixture I removed:

The light fixture was the keystone holding up the entire ceiling! This ceiling was a disaster waiting to happen!

Since it’s exposed now, I am going to replace that outlet box with a modern fan support box.

The ceiling fan may have stopped the ceiling collapse. Our Ikea bookshelves are undamaged:

Right after the crash, I sent Alec and Jennifer to Home Depot to get heavy duty plastic sheeting that’s opaque (so I don’t have to look at it) and painter’s tape. Our floor plan allows us to seal off that room and still have a functional house:

Just minus about 400 square feet:

I have guys coming in tomorrow to give repair estimates, and I have already filed a claim with our insurance. Hopefully this won’t hurt our pocketbooks too badly!

11 thoughts on “How to lose 400 square feet in a jiffy”

  1. Holy crap Aren – that’s really a mess – what about the security of the rest of home?

    Man if you need anything email me – shit –


  2. Wow,
    the only upside to this disaster is that all the materials are dry , and no water leaks are involved. Guess the brooms and shop vac will get a work out…and you had a little warning..little…



  3. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
    I’m SO glad it is not our house.
    And SO glad that Alec was not hurt either.

  4. I thought stuff like that only happened to me. Glad no one was hurt. Good luck on repair. Hope it works to your favor.

  5. Aren, if you don’t have one, I’d recommending buying a real resporator; those paper ones won’t keep that stuff out of your lungs. And you’re gonna need it to pull your stuff out of there and get the place ready for repairs.

    [Thanks. I have a N-95 respirator. OHSA says it’s OK for light to medium work that involves silica dust, which is most of the problem materials in the area. -Aren]

  6. Aren that sucks good thing you had warning and didn’t get caught. Don’t forget the asbetos abatement charge.

  7. Hey Aren,
    Chris sent me the pictures. I imagine the guys that installed the drywall back then, sunk their nail heads too deep and broke the paper on the surface. This greatly reduces the holding power of the nail. You are right that the light fixture was the only thing holding it up. My dad taught me to double nail the rock which works great. The first one gets it close, the second about 2″ away sucks it tight, then you hit the original again. Less chance of breaking the paper that way. Of course now they glue it and use screws. Good luck, Ed

  8. Chicken Little is alive and kickin’. So glad you guys are OK. What did Alec think about it? Did it cure Sugar of not minding?

    [Surprisingly, Alec doesn’t seem to care. He often forgets that the room is unavailable and asks to watch TV in it. Sugar is still a very bad dog. -Aren]

  9. Glad no one was hurt and that you had some warning. I can imagine the conversation going something like:
    Aren: Honey, I’m going to hang that new chandelier I bought you for Christmas.
    Jennifer: Are you sure you can do it? Should we call someone?
    Aren: Nah, this should be a piece of cake.

    Ahhhhhh….the joys of marriage and homeownership. :-)

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