Why Do Houses Creak?

October 13, 2020 Baird Foundation Repair

Is your house making spooky noises in the middle of the night? While this phenomenon can be terrifying, there is no need to worry about ghouls in the attic. Occasional pops, creaks, and whines can be normal and result from a variety of factors.

However, it is important to understand when and why your creaky house may be something to be concerned about like a foundation repair warning sign.

Thermal Expansion and Contraction

The most common reason for a house to make noises is temperature changes in the air, or what is known as thermal expansion and contraction. The temperature changes cause the wood, metal and other materials in the house structure to expand and contract, resulting in ominous creaks. Sometimes these creaks can be harmless, other times they can signal to you that your home needs foundation repair.


The external forces of nature play a role in thermal expansion and contraction, that’s why it’s important to always stay informed about your local weather. Hot, dry weather causes the soil beneath a house to contract and shrink away from the foundation. Alternatively, excess rain or flooding causes soil to expand, applying pressure to the foundation. Managing the ground around your house by watering the soil during hot, dry weather and setting up a drainage system to prevent water pooling are easy ways to maintain your foundation.

Temperature and Time of Day

Another factor of thermal expansion and contraction is temperature. During the day, warmer temperatures cause the house to expand. Cooler temperatures cause the structure of a house to contract. Therefore, sounds are often heard at night – after the sun has gone down and the house is cooling.

House Settling

As the soil beneath a house shifts and moves over time, the foundation naturally adjusts and gradually sinks into the ground in a process referred to as “settling”. Over the course of its lifetime, a house may occasionally or frequently produce noises due to settling. Although these sounds may seem ghastly, they can be completely normal. Excessive settling, however, can lead to major damage that requires foundation repair.

Foundation Shifting

While settling and thermal expansion and contraction are natural effects on a house, it is important to recognize the signs of foundation damage before it becomes a major problem. The constant battle of a house structure expanding and contracting can result in signs of foundation issues. A few things to look out for include stuck doors and windows and uneven floors. Excessive or uneven settling can cause cracks in flooring, walls and even the driveway. Addressing these issues at first notice will save you from costly foundation repair.

If your house is haunted by excessive creaking or signs of foundation shifting, contact the experts at Baird Foundation Repair for a free inspection.

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