Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Winter House Noises

I am hoping you can talk me down from a night of no sleep. Last night is the second night that our house has been making crazy noises.  Both nights the temp was well below zero. When I heard the first popping noises we thought the roof was buckling under the weight of snow so we shoveled off the roof but there is still some ice hanging off the gutters.

Walking around the house this morning I couldn’t see anything. There is no damage on the ceilings or the exterior. Is this something that wood does when it’s cold?  How worried should we be?  We have been keeping half of the house cold and half warm – could that uneven temp in the house cause problems?

Cristina, Foster

 

It’s great you have been proactive, making sure your roof is clear of snow and ice, to prevent any weight or ice damming issues. But the prolonged cold and snow has caused sleepless nights for many building owners and those trying to maintain them. This weather has tested our patience and our building’s function, stability, and systems. But fear not, you are not alone. Ice dams, frozen pipes, clogged vents, and loud sounds have become commonplace.

The noises you hearing are most likely your building settling and moving from the extreme conditions. Water to ice, or cold and dry are conditions that can make wood move under stress against each other, releasing quickly making the “pop”.

You should not have a problem if you keep one side of the house cold, except for the occasional sound or two. Yet beware of excess condensation. You can open a door to the heated part, or open a window, every once and awhile to balance out the moisture content of the air. If you were to shut down, or mothball, that side of the house then keep a window open all the time so the temperature and relative humidity stays the same inside or out, avoiding excessive condensation from rapid temperature swings.

Bottom line, if you keep the snow’s weight off your roof you should be fine. Stay vigilant in inspecting the house, or call a reputable contractor or a structural engineer to address any concerns.

If you get ice dams and water behind your plaster or drywall, be quick to respond. If you have plaster and lath without any insulation then chances are a one time wet will not be a problem. Yet if you have insulation and drywall, or just drywall, you can get mold from the trapped moisture. Your best bet is to open the wall or ceiling as soon as you can, and allow the space to dry out. If you have insulation you should remove it, since it can take several months to dry. Trapped moisture will cause mold and make insulation less effective. Stay warm and keep paying attention to your building.