Silencing A Noisy House
By Jim Sulski
Summary: Everybody hears little bumps and
squeaks in the night. Jim helps you identify and fix some of the most common
house noise makers in the night.
It's three a.m. and suddenly you're awaken by a mysterious sound emanating
from the attic.
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Burglars? Probably not, as crime statistics show most smart burglars operate
when no one is home. Poltergeists? Even more unlikely.
Those unnerving and irritating sounds you often hear in the wee hours are usually
just your house making itself, well, comfortable as it settles in for the night.
And why are such extraneous noises usually only heard at night? Well, that's
when your house and neighborhood is extremely quiet, so you're much more cognizant
of any noise. Mysterious house sounds are usually nothing more than just an
irritation and are rarely a sign of trouble, such as a structural problem.
Homes shift, expand, settle, etc., and when you have all that activity they
can make a few strange sounds. House sounds are produced by a number of sources.
For example, there are the sounds that the mechanical systems in your home make
around the clock. Sump pumps, furnaces, ice makers, central air conditioners,
etc., all make noise during operation and never really stop working, even when
you're asleep. Short of getting rid of those things, you'll never really silence
them (although newer models tend to work much quieter than their older counterparts).
But there are some home sounds that can be eradicated or at least diminished.
What follows is a guide for getting rid of things that go thump, creak, bang
and scritch in the night. Tracking down the source of a noise that takes place
in the middle of the night may not be that easy. The best bet is to isolate
the sound while it's occurring. If that's impossible because the sound is taking
place outside during a late night thunderstorm, carefully inspect the area the
Usually the source of the sound is fairly easy to find. Look for loose pieces
of siding or roofing or check for signs of wear, such as marks from where wiring
may be thumping against the side of the house. You can also almost differentiate
between a wood noise and a tin noise. So that can narrow down your search.
One of the most common sources for unexplainable home sounds, especially during
the summer months, is the contraction and expansion of aluminum or steel siding.
It's often a result of improper installation, which doesn't allow the siding
to move. The siding then makes a creaking noise as it struggles.
A homeowner might have to learn to live with those sounds. To repair the siding
is a major job. You might have to take it down and rehang it. Or you can try
to cut it where it's too tight.
Wood siding, particularly darkly-stained cedar, can also make cracking and
popping sounds as a result of expansion and contraction. Again, there is not
much you can do about the problem.
Another common source of sounds are tree branches or utility and antenna wires
banging against a home, especially in a windstorm. Loose downspouts, shutters
and even storm windows can also imitate the sounds of a noisy burglar or a troublesome
ghost during heavy winds.
If you determine that it's a utility line making the noise, call the utility
company and let them make repairs. If it's a television or cable antenna wire
that's thumping away, fasten it down with clips that are especially made for
Loose downspouts - the vertical gutter pipes that run down the sides of your
home - can simply be reattached with the proper nails or screws. The same with
An inconspicuous piece of duct tape can usually solve the rattle associated
with a storm window. Stick it in the window track to keep the window from bouncing
back and forth when the wind hits it.
Even soffits - the underside of a roof where it meets the exterior wall - can
become loose and cause noise.
Trees hitting a home simply require pruning. A small tree branch brushing against
the house can make a lot of noise. The tree branch should simply be clipped
and it should be taken care of rather soon. A moving tree branch can wear the
roof shingles away and cause a leak to take place.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. February 23, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.