We've all been there, you’re just about to fall asleep and suddenly you hear a noise that jolts you from your bed. More often than not, there is nothing to be alarmed about, especially if you are in an older home. In fact, most of the noises a home makes can be explained and occur quite naturally.
A house is made of all sorts of different materials, and as temperatures change at night, they expand and contract at different rates, causing materials to rub against each other. If the sound you're hearing goes on all day, or doesn't sound like popping and cracking, you may have some repair work to do. If you're worried about a noise and you can't determine the cause, your first step should be to schedule a Home Maintenance Inspection. During a Home Maintenance Inspection, a WIN Home Inspector will conduct a thorough inspection of over 300 items inside your home and will likely be able to diagnose the culprit of your household noises.
The Top Reasons Your House May be Making Noises
There are several reasons your house may be making noise. They can range from the normal settling of your home to leaky pipes to critters in your basement and anything in between.
Here are some of the top reasons your home may be making noises.
One of the most popular culprits of random noises around the home is simply the home settling into its structure and foundation. You may hear sounds like creaks and pops which can be attributed to the weight of the home settling into the soil beneath it. The settling of your home can also create microscopic imbalances creating further noises from the doors and windows.
Pipes and Plumbing
If you hear running water inside your house, but no one has the faucet on, you may have a problem on your hands. Cold weather can freeze pipes solid, causing them to burst. Once a pipe has burst in your wall or ceiling, water will start flowing freely as soon as it thaws. To check, find your water mains and shut it off. If the sound stops, that means you most likely have a leak, and you should call a plumber right away. Noises from pipes and plumbing can also have benign reasons such as the water changing temperature and shifting.
HVAC System and Humming Appliances
A little knocking and clanking when you turn on your heating system - especially if you use a water boiler - is pretty much par for the course. As the hot water moves through your system, pipes expand and knock against walls and each other. Bill Richardson, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, warned BobVila.com that if the knocking and clanking is coming from inside the boiler itself, you may have a bigger problem. If you suspect the gurgling noise is coming from your boiler, your next course of action should be to call in a professional to have it checked out.
Rodents or Other Pests
If you are hearing noises like screeching, scratching, clawing or scampering you unfortunately may have a rodent problem, especially if the noises are coming from inside the walls. Pests inside the walls can be very dangerous as they can gnaw through wiring creating fire hazards. If you suspect you have some little critters in your wall, start checking for animal droppings or claw marks and call in a professional to have the home examined.
Changes in the Weather or Temperature
Changes in temperature, also known as thermal expansion or contraction, is one of the main villains of rogue home noises. As objects and material in the home heat up either by the sun or internal heating systems, they begin to expand. However, as temperatures cool down, as they tend to do at night, things begin to contract which can create popping and creaking noises. This effect can be even more pronounced in older homes with wooden floors, door frames and window frames.
Wall Creaks and Whistling Window Noises
Depending on where the noise is coming from, this could be a couple of different things. If you hear a deep moaning or clattering coming from the outside of your home on windy days, the most likely reason is that your vent dampers are getting old. Your home has vents to the outdoors for things like laundry exhaust and those vents are equipped with dampers, which are meant to keep cold air from getting back into the house via the same opening. When they get old, they tend to flap about, making a clattering noise and letting air back into the house. The only remedy to this issue is to buy new dampers, however by replacing your dampers you should see a decrease in your energy bill.
Regardless of the situation, if your home is making noises that you cannot explain, it is a good idea to have a professional come in and make sure everything is okay. In some cases, household noises may be a sign of a more serious problem that requires immediate attention, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. The best way to ensure your safety is to schedule a Home Maintenance Inspection. During a Home Maintenance Inspection, a licensed and insured WIN Home Inspector will conduct a thorough inspection of over 300 components inside and outside your home. After the inspection, your inspector will provide you with a thorough report walking you through all the details of their findings and providing suggestions on next steps.