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Why does my house make creaking sounds?

Updated June 19, 2017

Homeowners are prone to hearing a host of different sounds at night, as houses settle, expand and shift. Often, we are more aware of our house settling, and the noises that come along with it, at night, when it's most quiet. Luckily, the things going bump in the night are more likely to involve a structural or mechanical problem, rather than a friendly ghost.

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Structural

Over the years, houses deteriorate structurally. Loose utility wiring can knock against the side of the house or a creaking in the roof may indicate some roof siding problem. Also, it's common for pipes and other metal objects to make what sounds like knocking as they are cooling down.

Mechanical

Everyday conveniences, like ice makers, air conditioners, furnaces and dishwashers, are prone to make noises at unexpected times. They are the round-the-clock appliances that never really stop chugging away.

External

There may also be external conditions contributing to house noises, like a tree branch scratching against a window during a wind storm. Another possibility is that a downspout, which is a gutter-pipe designed to catch and funnel rain and snow from the roof, may be out of alignment.

Weather Conditions

When the temperature fluctuates, the wood or aluminium sidings of the house tend to expand or contract. On a particularly windy night, energy-efficient storm windows will also make a rattling noise, similar to the sound of a loose downspout, causing alarm.

Critters

Aside from structural or mechanical issues, the creaking sounds could be a number of living things. Termites have a tendency to weaken the structure of a house, causing it to creak and groan as it shifts. Squirrels, rats and raccoons have also been known to climb through chimneys, walls, attics and basements, causing scuttling or scraping noises in and around the house.

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About the Author

Monique Muro has been writer of both short and long fiction on the side since 2007. She has contributed to articles on the Santa Barbara Online News website, Thesbon.com, and currently writes for Demand Studios. Muro holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a creative writing emphasis from Cal State Long Beach.

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