One of the unusual aspects of this house was the drop ceiling that some previous owner had installed in both the living room and the master bedroom. If you’ve ever worked in an office building you are undoubtedly familiar with these ceilings: metal grids supporting white acoustic 2’x4′ tiles. My wife and I had never seen anything like this in a house before, and needless to say we thought it was ugly. We didn’t get pictures of the ceilings before we started removing them, but here are a couple of pictures early in the process:

Living Room
Master Bedroom

We couldn’t imagine why anybody in their right mind would want to install this kind of ceiling in a house, especially a house of this vintage. During the project we found a couple of price tags on the support rails that showed they were purchased in 2003, and presumably installed sometime in the same time frame.

We started taking down the tiles in the living room, and other than about 15 years of accumulated dust sifting down on top of us as we worked, they came down easily and quickly:

We found that the living room light had been mounted in a less-than-ideal way (and wasn’t centered on the room, which tends to drive me a little crazy):

We then removed the support grid and wires from the ceiling, and removed the tiles, grid, and wires from the master bedroom as well.

The ceilings in both rooms were now about 4 inches higher and felt more normal. During the tile removal, however, we figured out the probable reason for the installation: a large crack in the ceiling that spanned both rooms. Here’s the living room:

And the bedroom, with a similarly mounted ceiling light:

After removing the tiles and some of the drywall around the cracks, the reason for the damage became obvious: a badly sealed roof addition.

Here’s what happened: the cracks in both rooms were parallel to the front of the house, and looking at some of the old pictures of the house we realized that the crack was located at what was originally the front wall of the house. In the old picture below you can see that the front rooms of the house are much smaller, and the crack is located right where the old porch joined the front of the house:

At some point the front of the house was extended to make both the living room and bedroom about 7 feet larger. What is now the front wall of the house was originally the end of an open porch, so essentially a previous owner enclosed the porch. Judging from the added framing and insulation, this was probably done sometime in the early 1970’s. Here’s a recent picture of the house that shows the larger living room (located to the left of the fireplace) with a newer, larger porch added:

When they added the extension on to the front of the house they didn’t seal the gap correctly, so water got in and caused the crack. All of the damage around the cracks looked pretty old, though, so at some point they re-sealed the roof correctly and stopped the leak. Instead of repairing the ceiling drywall, they apparently decided to just cover it up with drop ceiling. That wouldn’t have been my choice, but whatever. None of the damage was structural, so no real problem there. The two rooms need painting, and the cracks aren’t great, but they still look better with the drop ceiling gone:

I’m going to consider repairing the cracked ceiling drywall in both rooms a separate project, and am going to call this part of the project finished.