Last updated: January 27, 2022 at 10:49 am
When something goes wrong in our homes, we want to know what happened and how to fix it. This article covers the most common causes of cracking sounds in a home, including many that you may never have thought of.
In some cases, they aren’t structural problems at all! Learn these causes and solutions so you can sort the minor problems from the big ones, and get repairs done right away.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 10 Causes of Loud Cracking Noises
- 2 How to Prevent Cracking Noises in Your House
- 3 Conclusion
10 Causes of Loud Cracking Noises
Cracking noises are usually a sign of settling, which is normal and not a cause for alarm. Sometimes cracking noises are caused by animals or by plumbing or electrical work in the building. But if you hear cracking noises in your walls, floors, ceilings, or any other place, here is what may be happening:
1. House Settling
Every home is subject to some settling and cracks are a natural result. As the ground settles, it causes the foundation to crack and sometimes even shift. When your house settles, the foundation moves, and cracks may appear.
If you’ve been experiencing this type of problem, expect the cracks to appear on the outside walls first. They’re not a big concern unless they continue to appear or get larger over time. If they do, you may want to call a professional for a consultation.
2. Thermal Expansion
Thermal expansion is a physical change that occurs when different materials expand and contract at different rates in response to heat. This most commonly manifests itself in the form of cracking noises during the winter, when temperature fluctuations are more prevalent.
Within homes, cracks can develop in brickwork (called spalling) because of thermal expansion or contraction. Concrete also experiences this phenomenon, with cracks appearing in foundations or floors (called joint movement). These cracks tend to occur in areas where there is a change of material or where an area of high moisture content has allowed concrete to become weak.
Another common cause of cracking noises is floor screeding, which occurs when wooden boards expand and contract due to temperature changes. This can often be remedied by using insulation underneath flooring boards.
3. Rattling Water Pipes
Water pipes move around when there is pressure on them, which can lead them to make popping sounds as they expand and contract.
You’ll know if this is the case if you notice wet spots appearing near floorboards or walls near pipes that are subject to pressure from changes in temperature and water flow. But if you hear a loud popping sound, that’s an indication that shifting soil has put pressure on the pipes.
Cracking sounds can also be signs of water leakages inside your walls or ceilings. Keep an eye open for discoloration around your plumbing fixtures, or carpet and other flooring materials.
4. Squeaky Floorboards
All floorboards have tongues and grooves and need to be nailed in place tightly. When this isn’t done properly, the boards can move slightly when walked on, creating that tell-tale squeak.
Squeaky floorboards can also happen when the wood has become dry and shrinks in the summer heat or expands in the winter cold. The boards might have been improperly installed, or they could have simply become loose over time.
If the boards are just loose, you may be able to tighten them yourself with a pry bar and some screws. You should probably consider hiring a professional if you are not familiar with using pry bars or have never worked with construction tools like this before. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself while trying to fix your squeaky floorboards.
5. Faulty Roof Trusses
Sometimes, cracking noises are a sign that there is a problem with your roof. Cracking noises near your roof is usually caused by faulty roof trusses. These are wooden beams that form the support structure for your roof.
If they aren’t strong enough to hold up your roof, then they will crack, causing loud thudding noises in your ceiling and upper walls.
Roof trusses generally crack after a large snowfall or heavy rainfall. The weight of the water that collects on the roof is too much for them to handle and they eventually give way under pressure.
6. Door Hinges
One of the most common causes of cracking noises in a home is typically from squeaky door hinges. The constant opening and closing of doors cause the hinges to become loose, which, over time, will allow the door to move back and forth on the hinge pin.
People who live in older homes or have wood doors are more susceptible to this problem than those who have metal or vinyl doors. One way to prevent this is by applying a little bit of silicone spray on the hinge pins. This will keep the door from moving around and causing excess noise.
If you’re hearing a lot of loud cracking and popping noises coming from your attic or basement, you might have a little critter problem.
A variety of critters make noises in the walls. Rats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons are the most common culprits. You can usually hear them scurrying around or scratching at the walls.
These critters may try climbing on window sills or roof soffits to reach food sources, resulting in cracking noises as a result of their weight. The best way to keep them out of your home is to prevent access with a well-fitted screen door. Or, repair any gaps in your attic and other parts of your house.
Drywall is the sheetrock used to create interior walls in the average home. The sheets of drywall are installed into framed wall cavities. When it is installed properly, you will not hear any cracking noises or feel any vibrations in your home.
However, when the installation is shoddy or the wall has been damaged by other factors, there will be a lot of movement in the wall. As it expands and contracts with temperature changes during the seasons. This movement can produce a variety of cracking noises and vibrations in your home.
You can usually ignore these noises unless they become excessive, which may indicate that you have a serious problem.
Banging and cracking noises coming from your appliances are often caused by vibration. The source can likely be traced back to a faulty bearing, fan, compressor, or other mechanical components. Whenever you hear a strange noise coming from your appliances, it is best to check the owner’s manual for servicing instructions.
Tiny gaps in the plastic seal between your refrigerator and its door may cause the door to make a cracking or popping sound when you open it. This often goes away if you lubricate the seals with petroleum jelly or silicone spray, but sometimes the cause is a broken hinge that needs replacing.
If you are unable to identify the cause of the problem, you should contact a qualified appliance repair technician in your area. An experienced professional will eliminate the possibility of serious damage being caused by ignoring these symptoms.
10. Window Sashes
In many cases, window sashes can make a squeaking sound because they aren’t well lubricated. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as poor weather, stripping around the windows, or excessive moisture on the sashes.
To fix, you need to remove the sash and apply a silicone lubricant around the runners where they move. You should also lubricate the hinges and replace any worn or broken weather stripping to prevent future problems. The sash should move smoothly after it is reassembled.
How to Prevent Cracking Noises in Your House
Cracking sounds can be made by a variety of sources, both inside and outside. Most times these sounds seem inevitable but here are some common practices to prevent cracking noises in your home:
- Check your attic for potential leaks. After it rains hard, check for moisture behind insulation or loose-fitting shingles.
- Seal any cracks you find with an expanding foam sealant. This will help stop air from leaking in or out of your home.
- Look for signs of water damage on the ceiling and walls of your basement. Water damage can often be a sign of leaking pipes, which can cause cracking sounds in your home over time.
- Have a professional inspect your plumbing pipes for any signs of leaking or corrosion.
- Clean or repair rain gutters and downspouts using a garden hose with a nozzle attached to direct water away from the house to avoid water entry at the base of the foundation wall.
- Repair or replace broken or missing shingles on your roof to prevent water leakage into attic space or interior walls of your home.
- Use weatherstripping. Weatherstripping can be a great way to prevent air from seeping in around windows, doors, and other openings.
- Seal off any holes. Make sure there aren’t any holes in the floorboards or gaps in between boards that could allow rats or mice to get into your home.
- Inspect the foundation and retaining walls.
- Check your doors and windows for cracks and loose hardware.
If you’ve heard an unexplainable loud crack from inside your home or workplace, don’t be alarmed. It’s important to do the smaller fixes yourself so you can more effectively handle bigger problems in the future.
The last thing you want to do is ignore small problems, only to find that they become more serious later. Proper maintenance goes a long way.