What’s That Sound? 9 Home Noises and How to Fix Them

Bumps and thumps might be driving you crazy, but they also might mean big trouble. We give you the lowdown and which pro to call for help.

Don’t go calling the Ghost Hunters folks just yet if you’re hearing strange noises around your house. There’s probably an earthly reason for what’s going bump in the night. In fact, sometimes the noises in a house are a warning to prevent something really scary from happening — like a backed-up sewer line. But it’s all about knowing what you’re hearing and who can help. If you’re hearing any of these sounds, it might be time to call a specialist.
Gurgling From the Toilet

Cause: This could be one of two things.
1. Your sewer line could be backed up. Sometimes tree roots grow into the pipes. Then you innocently flush a couple of baby wipes, which snag on those roots, partially blocking the sewer line and, well, the you-know-what might be getting ready to hit the fan.

2. A worn-out toilet valve can cause a gurgling sound, but the constantly running toilet will tip you off. In that case you just need to replace the gasket in the tank reservoir.

Who to call: A plumber. You can also rent a sewer snake and try to clear the problem yourself. You can rent one, and purchase toilet valves, at many local hardware stores.

Knocking or Banging Inside the Walls 

 This typically occurs when you turn your water faucets on and off. It’s called a pressure hammer, and it occurs when air pressure builds up in your water pipes, causing them to vibrate when the pressure is released.

If the pipe wasn’t mounted properly, or it has loosened over the years, then it bangs against the stud in your wall. “It can go crazy,” says home repair specialist Tapley Dawson, a partner at The Home Doctors in Novato, California. “The inside of a stud bay is like a guitar or piano, so yeah, you’re going to hear it.” If the sound gets to you — à la “The Tell-Tale Heart” — you’ll have to open up the wall and put a sleeve over the pipe.

Who to call: A home repair specialist

Pops and Clicks From the Radiator 

 Expanding metal. “I used to live in New York, and my radiator would hiss and groan; it was like having a dragon in the house,” says Dawson.

While there’s not much you can do, Dawson says some loop systems that circulate hot water get air bubbles in them and need to be “bled” just like car brakes do. If you hear a banging sound similar to what happens with the water pipes, this might be your problem. You can buy or make decorative boxes for radiators that may cut down on the sound a little, but they’re mainly for aesthetic purposes.

Who to call: An HVAC specialist

Humming From the Refrigerator

Cause: “That’s the gremlins inside eating your food,” jokes Dawson. Actually, it could be the compressor motor. Fridges are full of electrical devices, he says, that can cause all sorts of problems. New refrigerators shouldn’t make any noise.

Who to call: An appliance repair specialist

laundry room Laundry

Squeaking From the Dryer

Cause: Many old models have a belt that wraps around the drum similar to that in a car engine. When the belt gets loose and worn out, “it starts to squeak like bedsprings,” Dawson says.

Who to call: An appliance repair specialist

Thumping From the Washing Machine

Cause: This is most likely due to the spin cycle’s being thrown off balance by clothes bunched up on one side, often when the machine is overloaded. Just open the machine and spread out the clothes evenly.

Creaking Floors and Stairs

 This most often happens when a loosened wooden floor board moves up and down against a nail. Other times wood planks are rubbing against one another. The sound is notorious in old houses.

You can tighten the boards by nailing, screwing or gluing the boards, but it’s going to be the “annoyance versus how much you destroy your floor,” Dawson says. In some cases he’s been able to tighten the subfloor underneath the house with things like a 2-by-4 joist and construction adhesive. “It’s not always successful, but there are tricks,” he says. You might want to decide if you really want that noise to disappear. “In old Victorians that’s part of the charm of the house,” Dawson says.

Who to call: A home repair specialist

Whooshing or Rattling Windows

 When weather stripping fails on old windows, like double-hung wood windows, drafts happen. If your house faces strong winds, the air whipping into the spaces can cause the windows to rattle. You can use storm sashes, like the one seen here, to cover old windows. They’re most often found on the East Coast. Tilt Pac windows and block-frame windows are also options.

Who to call: A window repair specialist 

Running or Hissing Faucets

Cause: If a faucet is leaking enough, it can sound like it’s running. If it’s barely open, it can make a hissing sound, like air going through a reed on a saxophone, Dawson says. Most likely you have an old faucet with a washer issue, which is something most homeowners can fix themselves.

Who to call: Ask your local hardware store for assistance. When in doubt, call a home repair specialist.

Scratching, Rustling or Chewing in the Ceiling or Walls

Cause: I hate to say it, but if you hear prolonged scratching, you probably have a rodent problem.Sometimes you can unmistakably hear rats chewing their way through walls.

Who to call: A pest control specialist

By: Mitchell Parker

OrsonHeadshotsmallOrson B.Klender,  Associate Broker

Keller Williams Realty Saratoga Springs
38 High Rock Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866



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One response to “What’s That Sound? 9 Home Noises and How to Fix Them”

  1. Kafoolabta says :

    Reblogged this on Kafoolabta Products and commented:
    Now here are some very helpful and useful tips for everyone! Home owners, apartment renters, condo lovers and the like! These tips are sure to help everyone live peacefully and securely in their homes. We all know that our homes do make weird, random noises, and it’s best to know what these noises are and how we can solve the problem. These tips are great for learning how to deal with house issues and also helps all of us be a little more hands on in maintaining our greatest investment. Enjoy!

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