You probably have experienced this at some point: as you are getting ready for bed, you notice a weird sound coming from above. When you do not know where it is coming from, the noise can be quite scary. Moreover, it may keep you awake all throughout the night.
Do not worry; it is not a ghost. It is normal for a house to produce all sorts of sounds. You can often hear buzzing from your electrical appliances, whooshing and clanging from the water pipes, and water dripping from the tap. Even the materials used to build the house itself can create sounds as they interact with the environment outdoors and other factors.
While noises are normal and, often, not harmful, it is still important to understand why they happen. Sounds can also offer a sign that there is something wrong that can cause a big problem later on.
The roof is one of the most important areas of the house because it is first to bear the brunt of rain, snow, wind, and intense sunlight. It is also very expensive to repair and replace. In addition, if it ends up breaking, it could be a safety risk to you and your loved ones. Here are the common sounds that you may hear from your roof and whether you should be concerned or not:
Pitter-Patter of Rain
Rain makes a sound as it drops from the sky and onto your roof. It is normal and, typically, not a cause for concern. If you have a metal roofing system, the noise will be louder. But, unless there is a leak, the pitter-patter of rain on your rooftop only means that you are protected from the elements outdoors.
Metal is one of the most durable and long-lasting building materials. It has an expected lifespan of about 40 to 70 years. That is why, despite the noise, many homeowners choose it over traditional asphalt which only lasts for up to 20 years. Anyway, the sound of rain on the roof will be muffled if you have extra layers of sheathing and insulation.
Loud Banging During Winter
It is not pleasant to wake up in the middle of the night because of the loud banging noise coming from your roof. Although it is scary, if it happens during a cold winter night, it likely is not an emergency situation. It also probably is not a safety hazard.
It is a reaction of the building material to the low temperature outdoors.
The roofing material makes a sound, especially in winter, as it shrinks due to the extreme cold. Depending on the building material, the shrinking happens at different rates. Wood, which is porous, loses moisture when the air is dry. It, therefore, shrinks the fastest.
But, the quick shift between warm and cold during winter also affects the rate of shrinking of the exposed building material. During daytime, when the sun is shining brightly, the roof may get warmer. By nighttime, the temperature drops so suddenly that the material immediately shrinks in response.
In contrast, the interior walls are warm because of insulation and heat coming from inside the house. So, while the roof is cold and shrinking, the walls on which it is attached to remain warm and unaffected. The roof may pull the nails and metal plates, causing the loud banging sounds. Even small movements can generate a loud noise.
Do not worry because you would not have to fix your roof or any point of connection with the walls. Come spring, the whole structure will go back to normal and, with it, the sound will disappear.
Creaking and Groaning Against the Wind
Here is another sound that you will encounter due to weather. When the wind is so strong that your roof starts to creak and groan, do not panic. This, too, is normal.
Your house is trying to resist the push of the wind. Naturally, there will be some complaints from your roof, attic, and home.
If the creaking and groaning happens with a slight breeze, however, then maybe you should speak to a residential structural engineer. A professional can inspect and determine if there is a need to make improvements in the roof and attic.
Houses make noises and, often, aside from being a slight nuisance, they are not a cause for concern. As long as it happens regularly and you know where it is coming from, then there is no reason to be frightened. Just sit back, relax, and drown the noise with music or use ear plugs.