Drywall – 14ft Ceiling beam sagging 5/8″ – what to do


First some background:

Our home is a 2 story detached. On the main floor it is entirely open concept, with a ~14' drywalled horizontal support beam separating the kitchen from the living room area. This "beam" (i call it that because i don't know exactly what is behind the drywall yet) comes down from the ceiling about 1.5 feet and has trim on it etc… The home is about 7 years old. We were the 2nd owners of the home (it's a builder home). We have 9' tall ceilings on the main floor. Our master bedroom & bathroom are directly above this area. The bathroom has a soaker tub and a separate tile shower. We have had no issues with windows or doors not opening/closing properly.

What's happening

When we purchased the house, we noticed in the upstairs master bedroom (which is directly above the kitchen) that the floor was pretty squeaky when walking on it. We had the seller 'fix' it but whatever they did, didn't last very long as the squeaking returned shortly after we moved in. That was about 5 years ago.

Over the years we had noticed a couple straight almost hairline vertical cracks in the drywall surrounding the support beam on the main floor. Definitely seemed like tearing of the drywall tape. Last month we had our basement finished and one of the contractors pointed out that there is a bit of a sag in support beam that we never noticed until now. They got out a laser level & confirmed the beam is sagging about 5/8" in the middle of the 14 foot span it is supporting and there is some slight bowing in the ceiling near the beam. There are no cracks in the actual ceiling yet, just the beam. We have not noticed any water damage in the ceiling.

We just patched the cracks around the beam and have started measuring the distance from the middle of the beam to the floor on a monthly basis and are watching to see if the cracks come back.

Part of me wants to open the ceiling and get a home inspector in here to evaluate the cause but i don't want to open the drywall unnecessarily either.

We are kind of freaking out about it, now every little crack we find in the house makes us wonder if it's related…

We are not particularly handy people and are unsure how to approach this problem, so any advice would be most appreciated.

Best Answer

I want to add on to ben's answer. You will always have sag with a 14 foot header. If it is a metal i-beam maybe 1/100th of an inch... Your wood/LVL will sag much more.

What you are describing is ultra typical when there is a point load above and they used LVL. I don't know why cities keep allowing the use of LVL for anything more than 10 feet. It will look great and then year 2-3 it starts sagging... year 4-5 you get cracks and notice it... It is not unsafe because the LVLs will have to be seriously sagging before anything would happen. 5/8" is just enough to disturb the finish and annoy you. You can either install a beam in the middle of the room or put in a better header.

I can tell you I bought quite a few houses with sagging rooms for a huge discount. It is really an easy fix. You support each side of the room with a temp frame job, cut out LVL, and install metal i-beam. This is a one day job if you have a couple helpers. The main thing is to jack the metal beam slightly higher than level and support that level during install.