Why Does My House Creak When It Gets Cold?

Written by anna roberts
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Why Does My House Creak When It Gets Cold?
Creaking is most noticable at night when temperatures are dropping and all is quiet. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hearing creaking sounds in your home can be creepy and even alarming if you don't know where it's coming from. Fortunately, most creaky home noises can be explained, and most homeowners grow accustomed to the noises in their own house and may stop noticing them altogether. Cold weather in particular can create new creaking sounds due to the temperature shift affecting different components of your house.

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Structural Connections

The main structural components of your house, like the walls, floors and roof, are built from wooden parts that are exposed to cold external temperatures and warm internal temperatures at the same time. This results in parts of the house expanding while other parts are contracting or staying the same. This puts stress on connections, which are held together with screws, nails and other metal components. So when things shift due to changing weather and temperature conditions, it can produce creaking sounds as the building materials and connections readjust.

Windows, Doors and Siding

Changing temperatures also have an effect on other components of your house like windows, doors and siding. The concept is the same as creaking due to the main structural elements of the house shifting, only on a smaller scale. The materials used in siding, doors and windows also expand and contract in heat and cold, possibly resulting in creaking and popping.

Mechanical Systems

The mechanical systems in your home, specifically water and air systems, are also subject to the effects of changing temperatures. Pipes are exposed to temperature fluctuations and they are put under more stress during cold weather to produce the hot water and heating for your house, so knocking or creaking noises are commonly attributed to them. Turning down the heat at night lets the hot air ducts cool off, and you may hear noises then. Pipes and air ducts are also tied in with the structural elements of the building, which may be shifting at the same time, further stressing the materials.

Settling

Your house may settle due to conditions shifting under it. Houses are designed and built to be relatively stable, but there is a certain amount of flexibility in any structure. If the ground around the house is changing due to different moisture and temperature conditions, the house must adjust or "settle" as a result. This issue affects new houses in particular. Settling can also be a result of foundation problems or building on improperly filled soil.

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