October is the time to put on sweaters, set pumpkins on the porch and pull out our favorite scary movies. The start of cooler weather also could be accompanied by bumps in the night that aren’t part of the Halloween soundtrack. Those spooky noises may mean your house is trying to tell you something.
Homes make strange noises that are of little concern. Glass, concrete, and wood all expand and contract at different rates as temperatures change. However, “the most noise your house should make is a popping sound, like your knuckles cracking, and only once in a while,” said Bill Richardson, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, in an interview with a BobVila.com.
Here are few of the creepy noises your house might make, and what they usually mean:
1. Creaking floors. Squeaky floors typically mean wooden floor boards have warped or loosened over time. If you don’t enjoy the sound, it is usually a simple fix by a contractor or with some DIY instruction.
2. Footsteps in the attic. As the weather cools, small critters like rats, squirrels, raccoons and even birds may be seeking a cozy place to nest. If you suspect an infestation, be sure to contact a pest control professional. Beware of setting out poison, as an animal can ingest the poison and die in a wall where they can’t be removed. Poison also can be a danger to pets and children.
3. Moaning and rattling windows. Often this means the weather-stripping around your windows has worn out. Wind gusts push air through gaps around the window and cause rattling.
Replacing the weather-stripping will tighten the seal around the window, preventing noise and that eerie whistling sound you may hear when the wind blows.
If there are cold spots near your windows and you are confident no paranormal activity is involved, it may mean your windows are failing to insulate. Lack of insulation is a common problem with older, single-pane windows. It also can be a problem when the seals fail in double-pane glass windows, eliminating the insulating properties and sometimes allowing moist air between the glass panes, which causes fogging.
In this case, you may want to replace your windows to provide better insulation before winter.
4. Mysterious running water. Often a toilet, sprinkler system or dishwasher is the offending party. Soft water systems also can create the sound of running water at certain times. If you can’t figure out the source, contact a plumber, as the trickle could indicate an internal plumbing problem.
5. Knock, knock, knocking. As with windows, exterior doors can rattle or make whistling noises when weather stripping is worn. Replacing the weather stripping will tighten the seal around the door.
If the door is warped, doesn’t hang properly, or is hard to close completely, then it may be time to consider a replacement.
Jim Larsen of Larsen Construction is a licensed contractor with 25 years of experience ridding Bay Area homes of drafty windows and creaking doors. Visit our Hayward showroom or call for an appointment.