With the deep freeze we’re in right now, lots of people are asking: “What’s that loud bang coming from my attic or roof?”
If you’re a new homeowner, it might be the first time you’ve heard “such a clatter” and you might have sprung from your “bed to see what was the matter”. Or, if you’ve moved to Canada from a warmer climate, these sudden, loud noises emanating from your house are apt to cause genuine fright and concern. Is there an intruder? Did a tree fall on my roof? Did someone fire a gun?
But for long time homeowners, it’s the familiar refrain of a house reacting to extremely cold temperatures. So although the sound may be alarming – and some folks even call the police - there is no actual cause for alarm.
Fluctuations in temperature, especially between the daytime and night, cause the building materials in your home to expand and contract. Wooden ceiling joists and metal fasteners or nails pair perfectly to produce an occasional loud pop or crack during the cold winter months. Similarly, the difference in the interior temperature of the home and the effect of cold outdoor temperatures on the roof and trusses, can cause the same racket.
The physicists who walk among us would like us to know it’s the release of energy that causes the loud banging. The parts of the house that are on or near the exterior shrink at low temperatures while the inside components stay the same size. The “shape shifting” that occurs causes stress in the joints and when this stress is released, a noisy crack or pop happens.
Generally speaking, these sounds are not an indication of structural problems and there’s really no action required. Houses are built in a sturdy manner and designed to withstand precisely this type of expansion and contraction. Some builders and home inspection experts say that adding attic vents to your roof can reduce the occurrence, but it’s not strictly necessary.
So next time you’re woken in the middle of the night by these curious loud sounds, you can relax and go back to sleep.