Hickory condo ceiling collapses, more units could follow - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Hickory condo ceiling collapses, more units could follow

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HICKORY, NC (WBTV) -

Rick Hendrick was sitting in his living room Tuesday afternoon when he heard something strange. "There was a crackling sound," he says. Rick looked up and saw a crack forming and growing across the ceiling. "All of a sudden it started to come down."

Rick scrambled to get out of the condominium he was renting and just as he escaped through the front door just before, he said, "The entire ceiling came down in the living room." 

Hendrick feels lucky to have escaped without injury, and building inspectors agree.

Joel Herman of the Catawba County Building department said it appears the nails that were holding up the ceiling sheet rock just gave way. "In older buildings nails instead of screws were used to fasten the ceilings," he said. "Over time they can come loose."

The Farm Condominium complex was built in 1979 when nails were still being used for that purpose. Adding to the weight for the nails, a layer of plaster was put on top of the sheet rock panels and that made it difficult for the nails to hold.

Herman doesn't think there was anything that specifically triggered Tuesday's collapse but after inspecting other units in the complex, he said a lot of work is needed.

"We have a problem here," he said as he looked at the ceiling of Rick's next door neighbor. The ceiling there is slanting in one place and starting to sag in another. "It needs to be fixed before it turns loose and hurts somebody," he said.

A spokesman for the management company said they will be reviewing paperwork to determine who is responsible for the repairs but said repairs will be done.

Building inspectors say it is a good idea for anyone living in an older home or apartment building to periodically examine the ceilings to be sure there are no issues.

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