During the night, you may hear creaking, cracking and other strange sounds in various parts of your house. You might also hear sounds during the day when other noises have quieted. What causes the sounds? Our homes are “breathing” and reacting to moisture and temperature changes.
Strange Sounds Throughout the House
Most of the noises you hear are natural and you need not worry unless walls are leaning, doors are
sticking, and floors are sagging. The noises are caused by the normal expansion and contraction of wood and manmade materials. Some of the biggest offenders are wood framing, vinyl and metal siding, plumbing, and heating ducts. Wood can shrink 1/4″ or more across 6″ of wood grain as its moisture content changes with the seasons. This movement makes floors creak, move and crack.
As the drywall or plaster attached to the wood framing attempts to move, you can hear cracks and pops. You will often see drywall nails popping from the drywall surface as the wood Shrinks or expands.
Masonry chimneys, tile chimney liners and the wood framing attached to them move at different rates and this also creates noises. Imagine how hot that chimney liner can get and how much it may move in that cold masonry chimney.
Your basement has metal heating ducts and metal piping attached to wood framing. When you run hot water in the bathroom, the cool pipe becomes hot and expands significantly. This expanding pipe is attached to the wood frame of your home, and it must bounce and slide along the framing or hangers until the expansion is accommodated.
Outside your home, vinyl siding is often a culprit for clicks and thumps. Vinyl siding must be installed so it can move horizontally. As outdoor temperatures change or when bright sunlight hits the siding on a cold day, you will hear movement noises.
Aluminum siding, metal gutters, and metal flashing all move with temperature changes. And boy, those water pipes pound, slush and gurgle as water flows and drains. Pipes can pound loudly if the air cushion has been lost in the water hammer arresters-air chambers that absorb the energy when water changes direction. Does your toilet run at night when no one is using the bathroom? This is a simple fix of the flush mechanism in the toilet tank. Don’t forget that the water softener and sump pump can run at almost any time with a spurt, whoosh or clunk as a valve closes.
Did I miss anything? Sure. Everything in your home that is hot, cool, dry or moist or that moves water or air can cause noises. Don’t worry about the sounds. Just chalk them up to the personality of your living, breathing home.
James C. Dunsing is the second generation of home inspectors with Dunsing Consultants, Inc. He
is a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana with a degree in Building
Construction Technology and is a member-in-good-standing of the American Society of Home
Inspectors. Mr. Dunsing has been a full-time professional home inspector since 1989 and has
completed over 12,000 home inspections.
I truly think that Jamie is a fantastic Home Inspector. Jamie has tremendous knowledge of all aspects of a home. He is humorous and gets along handsomely with buyers and sellers. He is meticulous as he moves around a home and makes sure that every window, electrical outlet and all facets of an inspections are covered. His reports to his clients are online with pictures and videos. If you live in Landings in The Glen or anywhere in the Chicago area I highly recommend Jamie Dunsing of Dunsing Inspections. You can contact him by going on his Website at www.dunsing.com.
Barry Newman ABR, CRS, CNE, SFR
Please call me at 847-921-1666 to discuss your needs or email me at BarryNewman@atproperties.com