Houses are not as solid as they may seem upon first glance. Houses are constructed using a combination of wood, plastic, concrete and various other materials that are fastened together to form the final structure. Due to the different construction and requirements of the building, each piece of the home has its own physical properties that can be affected by weather, pressure, temperature or impact.
Older homes were constructed without the benefit of modern equipment and construction technology, making them especially prone to shifting, creaking and cracking as external and internal factors affect the house. Gaps between boards, loose nails, uneven foundations, loose shingles, lack of weatherproofing and the generally breathable construction of older homes often make them creak, crack and pop as the various materials used to build the house shift and settle.
Some brand new houses also make noise as they are settling into place after their initial construction.
Temperature and Weather
Temperature and temperature changes can cause building supplies and materials to expand and shrink, depending on the conditions. Wood swells when it absorbs moisture, due to either rain or general humidity. When wood swells together, the wood rubs together and may creak. When the wood shrinks back down, the house has to settle again and can make a variety of strange noises.
There are an assortment of relatively harmless household problems that make your house creak and pop. Loose floorboards creak and crack when you walk on them or when the house settles. Loose nails can pop out of the roof, especially if it is a new roof. Plumbing problems can cause a wide assortment of odd noises, as can old furnaces. Lack of weatherproofing can make a house draughty and cause doors to slam and windows to creak and groan.
Though most house noises stem from fairly normal and mostly harmless reasons, sometimes creaking, cracking and popping noises can be a sign of serious structural issues with your home. Problems with your foundation may create cracking or popping sounds. Structural damage brought about by termites or rot may also cause noises when beams and support structures are weakened and began to creak and groan under the stress. Animals in the home can also make noises, especially squirrels or other rodents in the attic or walls. If you see animal droppings, call a pest control service. If you cannot determine the cause of your house's noises and are concerned about structural stability, have your home inspected by a certified building instructor.
- The Money Pit: House Noises Explained; Sheetal Werneke; 2009
- Hollow Hill: Noises That Are NOT Ghosts; Fiona Broome; 2005
- This Old House: Whats that Noise; Sarah Diguilio
- Purdue University: The Shrinking and Swelling of Wood and Its Effect on Furniture; Carl A. Eckelman
- This Old House: Dream House Turned Nightmare; Mark Cohen