Cracking Noise in Ceiling at Night – Reasons + What to Do

If you are also hearing the cracking noise and feel like your ceiling could rip off the house, you’re probably worried that something is broken in your roof. Well, for the most part, this is normal and the roof is less likely going to collapse. But what causes those loud cracking noises in the ceiling and what should you do about them?

Why is my ceiling making cracking noises (at night)?

You are likely to hear pops, creaks, and even strange groans coming from your ceiling. You may hear them often in the middle of the night but also occasionally during the day.

The good news is that these ceiling noises are quite normal – they don’t mean anything. While you might be afraid that your roof is going to collapse or be damaged, the noise you are hearing may be quite normal.

It is just a normal part of the roof settling, shifting, and reacting due to temperature changes.

The science behind these noises

The cracking ceiling noise you are hearing isn’t your roof collapsing but a normal part of the roof settling, shifting, and reacting to various external issues. But what exactly is causing those noises?

Usually, the noises are caused by the regular movement of roofing materials responding to thermal changes. The roof is made of many materials including metal ducts, glass, plywood, wood framing among other timber components. When the temperature in your house changes, these materials may move slightly due to contraction and expansion to adjust to the new temperature. Occasionally, the contraction or expansion of those roofing components produces the popping or cracking sound you hear.

The reason you hear those noises at night time is that the timber starts to cool down when the sun sets down. The low temperature causes the roof to contract, producing noises as a result. So, the cracking noise is the timber trying to adjust to the new temperature.

Regardless, you shouldn’t assume these noises. You still pay attention since they could indicate a potential roofing problem. In some cases, the cracking noises are accompanied by cracks in the ceiling.

Normal Types of Noises Ceilings Make

Cracking Noises in Ceiling
  • Cracking noise: This noise comes from the attic, a space above the ceiling directly below the pitched roof. The cracking noise often sounds as if the roof is going to collapse. The normal noise occurs as a result of roof timber movements due to temperature change.
  • Creaking noise: Creaking noise is another common noise your ceiling from peaked and flat roofs. This noise is caused by the same reasons as those of cold or heat-related cracking sounds. Cracks from ice or snow are another reason for creaking noise.
  • Popping noise: Besides experiencing this noise at night, you may also experience it on calm days later in the day after the sun goes down or early in the morning.
  • Tapping noise: A repetitive tapping sound coming from the ceilings can result from the contraction and expansion of metal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) duct-work that facilitates roof ventilation via these voids. The duct-work expands when it heats up and cools and contracts when the furnace stops taking warm air through the system. The contraction and expansion of metal duct-work is what produces the noises you are hearing.
  • Banging noises: Banging noises from the ceiling occur when a part of the roof is loose or not fixed properly. Usually, you may hear the sound during heavy winds or mild weather.
  • Loud Rain: This is self-explanatory. You may also hear the sound of heavy rain penetrating through your roof, also known as the pitter-patter sound.
  • Noises from rodents: Strange noises in your roof can be an indication that wildlife such as that rodents may be living in the attic. Ceiling cavities or lofts are ideal environments for mice and rats. There are many ways to find out what type of ‘guest’ that’s producing noises coming from the ceiling. Inspect your roof and look for visible signs of habitation such as their droppings.

How Do I Stop Popping Ceiling Noises At Night?

Here are great ideas to help you stop your ceiling from making cracking noises at night:

1. Spray foam insulation

One of the most effective ways to reduce noises coming from the ceiling is through spray foam insulation. Spray foam is a cell polyurethane substance that expands to cover roof openings or cavities before hardening. The substance will block, absorb, and damp the sound waves. It will also seal the openings within the roof cavities stopping the noise transfer through the ceiling.

When you apply spray form, you need to keep in mind that the form may not be good for soundproofing. Why? The spray doesn’t have the mass to absorb louder noises even though it has good thermal properties.

2. Fasten your roof

Fastening your roof is another effective way to stop popping ceiling noises. Roof fasteners not only hold your roof in place but also play an important role in the overall thermal performance of roofing systems. For instance, metal fasteners create a thermal bridge within your roof system that improves the effectiveness of thermal insulation.

If your roof does not have fasteners or the fasteners are incorrectly installed, this can cause your roofing system to react loudly to temperature changes. For instance, rapid contraction and expansion of the roof during the night can intensify the situation. Repairing or replacing roof fasteners can help manage the ceiling noises you often hear at night.

3. Add diagonal bracing

Last but not least, you can stop popping noise coming from your roof by adding diagonal bracing to the building’s roof trusses or rafters. The recommended size of braces is two by six material with large timber screws but not nails.

For the best results, your bracing should run in different directions of the roofing system, forming the letter W or V on the underside of the trusses. You will also achieve good results by installing one set of bracing on each side of the roof.

The diagonal bracing moves the concentrated sound waves caused by the wind to other parts of the roofing structure, reducing the popping sound in the process. If you don’t know how to install diagonal bracing, a professional roofing contractor can help you fix one quickly and effectively.

Conclusion

Often, noises coming from your ceiling at night should not be a big concern. They are just the result of temperature changes, natural shifting in the house, or weather changes.

It is, however, advisable to pay attention to the ceiling noises and talk to a professional roofing contractor about what you hear. A reliable contractor may inspect your roof to confirm that there is nothing serious with your roof.


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