Q. Can you speculate as to the cause of random sounds (cracks and pops) which come from the attic of our 20-year-old ranch-style house? The creaks usually occur in the morning and sound like dropping acorns. Could they be the result of the expansion of the wood framing members? A reader Elizabethtown, Pa.
A. Undoubtedly, the noises come from the expansion or contraction of the roofing or ceiling framing members.
A California friend of mine has such a creaking overhead and it bugs him no end. So far a builder has been unable to eliminate the early-morning sounds since the attic is too small for a carpenter to climb into for repairs.
If your attic is of sufficient size to allow entrance for a carpenter, have a veteran mechanic scramble up yonder to see what he can see and do what he can do. A perceptive carpenter may detect loose nails or shrunken lumber subject to expansion or contraction as day-night temperatures and humidity fluctuate.
Further, the carpenter may need to add nails or reset them, shim, shore, add joists or rafters, rebrace, etc.Any or all of these methods might indeed pull it off and get rid of the unwanted noise.
While there in the attic, the carpenter should check for adequate ventilation outlets so that hot air is not trapped within.
Sometimes expanding hot air can make unnecessary creaks as framing members straighten or deflect.
If you have an inaccessible attic, I really do not know how to master the creaks short of removing the roofing and roof sheathing for a similar approach as noted above. Be warned, however, that this is an expensive way to go.
Hopefully, you have an adequate attic and can solve or minimize the noises at little cost.