Strange noises coming from your attic are not pleasant to hear. Some of those noises are harmless, while other ones shouldn’t be ignored. If you ask yourself why my attic makes noises, you have come to the right place.
The most common reasons the attic makes noises include expansion of trusses due to temperature change, loose vents or shingles, HVAC system issues, normal house “settling,” or different critters.
Ever since we moved to our new house in Lewes, I sometimes hear noises coming from the attic. I was curious and wanted to research what the reasons may be. In this article, I have captured all I have learned about this topic.
Expansion Due to Temperature Change
Temperature changes, especially sudden ones, affect all materials. As the temperature rises, materials, including wood, expand. When the temperature drops, those materials shrink. These are not visible changes to the naked eye, but it happens daily.
Temperature changes mainly affect trusses and rafters supporting your roof. When this happens, the supporting beams move in connecting joints. While this may sound scary, it does not present any danger. Houses and supporting beams are all built so that every single part of it can withstand these minor movements.
If you hear cracking noise, usually in the evening, the most common culprit is the lower temperature when it gets colder. Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about.
If you live in an old home, you should inspect the trusses and rafters if the noises are getting louder over time, as this could be the sign of a structural problem. When you get to this point, it may be time to get an inspection done by an experienced professional.
If the roof noise bothers you a lot, you may be able to minimize the noise by adding exterior insulation to the roof.
The video below from Brendan Foster, a roofing contractor in Louisville, does a good job explaining why attics creak and crack at night.
Loose Vents or Shingles
Vents are installed in attics for the air to circulate. Air circulation is essential in preventing humidity, which can cause mold or damage the wood. These vents also keep the inside of your attic safe from outside conditions.
Soffit and ridge vents can loosen up and cause banging noise. This noise is a result of wind, rain, and similar natural occurrences.
To fix this issue, inspect the vents and tighten the loose ones, and the noise should stop immediately. It is important to mention that these vents should never be completely closed, blocked, or removed, because, in the long run, you are going to create a large problem.
These vents are important not just for air circulation but to lower temperature exchanges. Properly working vents can actually decrease the noise caused by shrinking and expanding beams.
HVAC System Issue
Most homeowners get anxious when they hear the words “HVAC problem.” We all know how expensive it can be to resolve it. Your HVAC system can also be causing the strange noises coming from your attic.
If you hear occasional bangs, the reason can be that metal ducts are expanding due to temperature change. This usually happens when a sudden temperature change occurs, and you decide to turn the thermostat up or down.
Same as wood, metal also reacts to temperature changes by expanding and contracting.
Unfortunately, the noise can also be caused by the HVAC fan or obstructions within the ducts, which should be addressed. If you suspect this is the cause of the problem, you should call a professional to inspect your HVAC system.
It is also possible that loose pipes, the ones leading the gasses out of the house can cause the banging noise. If that is the case, you can simply tighten the pipes to fix the issue.
Unfortunately, various critters can show up in your attic, and cause different noises. Depending on the critter, it can be skittering, scratching, thumping, squeaking, or any other noise.
Determining the type of animal you are dealing with and finding these critters can be hard. You should never ignore it, and if you are unable to resolve the problem, it would be wise to call an exterminator.
As much as we love animals, mice, rats, bats, squirrels, raccoons, woodpeckers, and other critters can cause significant damage. They can bite the wood, cables, walls and leave feces, hair, and food all over the place.
This is a serious hazard, for both your health and general safety. Torn electric cables could potentially cause a fire, and animals could carry diseases.
When you hear some strange noises that sound more natural than popping or cracking, you may have some cute tenant in your attic.
Other Unexpected Causes
So far, we have mentioned the most common causes of attic noises. Most homeowners experience this type of noise at least once.
But what if strange noises are coming from the attic, and there is no apparent cause?
No. I am not talking about ghosts.
I can’t tell you the exact reason, because every attic is different, but I can tell you in which direction to search.
If there are windows or other openings that are not air-tight, a draft could cause the noise. Some homeowners have trees in their yards, and branches can hit the roof on a windy day.
Various animals could run over your roof from one place to another without actually entering your attic. The possibilities are endless, but all of these share one thing. These sounds are sporadic or related to weather conditions.
Inspect your roof and your house surroundings from outside, and you may find a cause.