What is this sound in the house?

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URSnshn
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What is this sound in the house?

Post by URSnshn » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:45 pm

About a week ago we started hearing a sound - a "fluttering" (???) kind of sound in one wall - that is very brief, very random and infrequent, in one corner of the first floor of the house - no where else. It happens so quickly that it can't be determined exactly where it is - that is which wall, even if it is outside/inside. What might the sound be? Here's what I've looked at:

* The basement below that section: The wall joists are open - so if anything was in there it could easily get into the basement and yet I see no evidence of any problem down there at all.

* Outside: There are no bushes or trees that would brush against the house in that area or actually anywhere on the property. Everything looks tight. Chimney, roof, soffits, house looks fine from below with binoculars. Happened to be snow outside when I took a look and there were no tracks, not that there would be if the sound was from inside.

* There are no sounds coming from the second floor, the attic and/or other areas of the house that anyone has heard. Even upstairs (2nd floor) in the same corner of the house - nothing.

* I thought about a bat, but think that is unlikely given when this started (1 week ago) and the time of year (Northeast - snow) - also see no entry point, though I know the entry point can be small.

* Time of day - The sound has been heard only in the daytime, 1st time hearing it was about 7 am give or take and it's been heard at 4:30 pm and in the middle of a morning, but nothing in the evening and not every day.

* There are no water pipes in that area of the house. And the sound doesn't occur when the water is used / toilets are used.

Your thoughts?

Edited to include note about water pipes and a typo.
Last edited by URSnshn on Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

StandingRock
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by StandingRock » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:54 pm

Put out some rat poison, or some traps.

dalbright
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by dalbright » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:58 pm

Mouse trap time!

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F150HD
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by F150HD » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:15 pm

could be some structural expansion/contraction due to heat/freeze (you mentioned snow) - may want to mention your location in your first post this could give insight.

does it happen when your furnace turns on/off (assuming forced air)- could be a pressure/venting event
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:17 pm

Ghosts.

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ChowYunPhat
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by ChowYunPhat » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:21 pm

Could be a water hammer or vibration on your water lines...some of which could be very normal. If it is indeed this, a minor vibration could be remedied by opening the wall and ensuring the lines are securely attached to wall frame.

Does the noise coincide with water usage in the house or nearby room?
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by GrowthSeeker » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:28 pm

I don't know what your sound is.
But in a friend's house, when in the basement (partially finished), there was an intermittent slight tapping sound. It would be about 2 or 3 taps per second. Fairly regular for a few to several taps. Often absent for long periods of time. I was absolutely certain it was a mouse.
One day I happened to be there when the Orkin guy was there. I told him about it. The sound happened, he looked around and said it was coming from a pipe. I didn't believe him. But I put my hand on this one pipe in the ceiling of the basement (where it was unfinished): sure enough it was a vibration in the pipe. I think it was a water pipe rather than a steam pipe.
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URSnshn
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by URSnshn » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:45 pm

OP Here: I'm appreciating all the suggestions.

ChowYunPhat: Thanks for the idea. The noise does not coincide with water usage in that room or a nearby room. There are no water pipe in that room or nearby.

I did wonder if maybe it had something to do with heat, but I don't think so.

JimmyfromSunPrairie
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by JimmyfromSunPrairie » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:00 pm

I just went through one these odd noise situations. It ended up being one of the plastic pvc pipes from the furnace rubbing against the outside wall as it exited the house. It was caused by vibration/expansion/contraction of the furnace. The sound was much louder upstairs than the basement as the pipes were right below the floor and between the joists.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Mr. Rumples » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:17 pm

If you have ruled out anything mechanical, then you are left with a critter; not unusual for this time of year. Chipmunks burrow, a rat hole is easy to spot, squirrels not likely unless its a flying squirrel - my neighbor had them set up house in his basement, but most likely a mouse. You may see droppings. It could be a snake if it was heard in the ceiling. When I hear sounds like this, I ignore them and they go away, but I have cats. I have read that mice can get into openings 1/4 inch wide, though I don't see how.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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celia
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by celia » Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:24 pm

Chimney, you say???

We had a bird fly into our chimney earlier this year but haven't done anything about it yet. At a minimum, we need a chimney cap to keep the birds from entering. Here's what I posted:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=280901&p=4539875#p4539875

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fishandgolf
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by fishandgolf » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:38 pm

Ok LadyGeek…..bring on that hilarious post from a few years ago about the strange noise in the attic...…...it was a gut splitter..... :sharebeer

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Watty » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:12 pm


Rus In Urbe
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Rus In Urbe » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:37 pm

Bats.
That would be my guess.
They can get into a tiny hole; and once established, they multiply and are very difficult to get rid of.

Exterminator asap.
Don't rest until whatever it is is eradicated.....

Good luck. Keep us posted!

Edited to include this: neighbors of ours have bats in a wall....a whole colony of them. Very very difficult to deal with and they breed like, um, like bats. And they hear them flutter inside the wall. They have stopped up every possible hole they can find. Because the bats leave some kind of trail, they just keep coming.... Ugh. Hope you don't have them but don't let the problem persist.
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by HomeStretch » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:54 am

Sounds like a critter, possibly mice. Set out some Victor traps baited with peanut butter above and below the wall section with noise. If nothing is caught and traps are not “sprung” after a week, call an exterminator to check it out.

In spring and fall (as recently as this week) I’ll occasionally hear a fluttering sound while inside house. It’s always a small woodpecker type bird walking outside on house shingles or checking gutters for insects.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by DesertDiva » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:58 am

Do your walls smell like honey?

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JoMoney
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by JoMoney » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:08 am

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:17 pm
Ghosts.
I'm leaning towards rodents, but if one is persuaded that the noise has a quality that haunts them with the spirit or story of something else, then that explanation may be a better description... just be sure that any rituals to remove the ghost involve sprinkling of rat poison to be effective.
:D
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:29 am

JoMoney wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:08 am
Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:17 pm
Ghosts.
I'm leaning towards rodents, but if one is persuaded that the noise has a quality that haunts them with the spirit or story of something else, then that explanation may be a better description... just be sure that any rituals to remove the ghost involve sprinkling of rat poison to be effective.
:D
Agreed.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by LadyGeek » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:43 am

This thread reminds me of the all-time classic: Noise in my attic (Oct 26, 2010)
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by GoldenFinch » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:00 pm

We live in a very old house and coexist with sparrows, flying squirrels, at least one chipmunk and probably some mice in our walls, but we have cats so they are doomed if they make their way inside the house. All of the animals live in small areas of the house and I am pretty good at identifying them when I hear them. Given what you are describing I am putting my money on birds.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:44 pm

OP, the Boglehead expert on house noises is Cody, from Stillwater, MN. Suggest you reach out to him for his advice. (See the post above from LadyGeek from 2010). Good luck.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by cudaman » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 am

You might check your bathroom exhaust fan vents, wherever they exit the house, as a possible entry point for critters. We had a blackbird cleverly lifting the exterior flapper allowing it to enter the exhaust duct. We could hear the bird moving around over the bathroom ceiling. So, even though the flapper was supposed to prevent this, I had to install a wire mesh over the vent housing to stop this clever guy.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by coalcracker » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:26 am

Agree with others that critters seems most likely given the timing and what you've excluded so far.

Only other thing you might consider is some kind of expansion/contraction of the house in that corner if/when the sun hits during the day. We have plexiglass skylights that pop audibly whenever the sun hits them directly, but are otherwise silent.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by NoblesvilleIN » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:28 am

Do you have a gutter close to where you are hearing the sound? We have had birds sit in our gutters and their movement (wings flapping, walking) sometimes makes a noise that we can hear inside. Also, we had one gutter that was a bit loose and in certain wind conditions would make a noise in the house. Good luck.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Fletch » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:31 am

cudaman wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:11 am
You might check your bathroom exhaust fan vents, wherever they exit the house, as a possible entry point for critters. We had a blackbird cleverly lifting the exterior flapper allowing it to enter the exhaust duct. We could hear the bird moving around over the bathroom ceiling. So, even though the flapper was supposed to prevent this, I had to install a wire mesh over the vent housing to stop this clever guy.
Ditto dryer vent. My son had a bird build a nest inside a long dryer vent pipe that went above a finished ceiling in the basement after the bird defeated the flappers on the vent. Quite a mess to fix. He also prevented repeats with mesh over the outside flapper. If this turns out to be the cause, be sure to use rigid vent pipe. My son's orginal was plastic and very flexible. It was also filled with lint from the dryer in the low spots. The bird nest problem may have prevented a fire in the ceiling if the problem had continued.
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Teague » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:57 am

Any unstable geology in your area? Sinkholes? Old landfills? Drug cartel tunnels? Any sightings of poorly kempt men perhaps with missing appendages or eye patch, possibly a bird on shoulder, carrying shovels?
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:46 am

Two thoughts:
I'm not sure I understood what you said about the wall joist being open in the basement but is there any way to get some kind of camera or scope into the suspect wall cavities?

I saw something like this once on our church parsonage. A fluttering sound would come from the chimney occasionally. Some kind of bird was nesting in it. A chimney is much larger and easier for a bird to get in than a wall cavity, though.

Good luck and keep us posted. This has the potential to turn into another all-time great Bogleheads thread!

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by fru-gal » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:55 am

Don't use poison, as secondary poisoning will kill hawks, owls, etc.

About twice a year I hear a mouse or mice in some wall. I run the vacuum cleaner near there for about 10 minutes. May have to be done once a day (when I hear the sounds) for 2-3 days. That works. The noise apparently gets to them.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by tenkuky » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:44 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:43 am
This thread reminds me of the all-time classic: Noise in my attic (Oct 26, 2010)
OMG
LadyGeek: thanks for posting that thread. It is one of the most fascinating reads. Who would have thunk?

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URSnshn
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by URSnshn » Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:24 pm

OP here, I appreciated all the responses. I called an exterminator.

The exterminator, thinks it might be a flying squirrel or red squirrel and so is currently in the process of trapping it - so we'll see. After it is trapped the hole will be sealed up.

So far it doesn't look like ghosts!

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by DesertDiva » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:46 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:24 pm
OP here, I appreciated all the responses. I called an exterminator.

The exterminator, thinks it might be a flying squirrel or red squirrel and so is currently in the process of trapping it - so we'll see. After it is trapped the hole will be sealed up.

So far it doesn't look like ghosts!
Any updates??

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by abuss368 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:54 pm

I would consider napalm.
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by tenkuky » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:06 am

abuss368 wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:54 pm
I would consider napalm.
Do you think OP would love the smell in the morning? :D

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by abuss368 » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:32 am

tenkuky wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:06 am
abuss368 wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:54 pm
I would consider napalm.
Do you think OP would love the smell in the morning? :D
Great film!
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by Cheez-It Guy » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:37 am

URSnshn wrote:
Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:24 pm
OP here, I appreciated all the responses. I called an exterminator.

The exterminator, thinks it might be a flying squirrel or red squirrel and so is currently in the process of trapping it - so we'll see. After it is trapped the hole will be sealed up.

So far it doesn't look like ghosts!
Flying squirrels are cool. Hopefully they don't kill it if that's what it turns out to be.

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URSnshn
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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by URSnshn » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:36 pm

OP here - And the answer is ... red squirrel.

Nothing trapped though, luckily they escaped and the hole and any others are plugged.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by tenkuky » Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:01 pm

URSnshn wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:36 pm
OP here - And the answer is ... red squirrel.

Nothing trapped though, luckily they escaped and the hole and any others are plugged.
That squirrel must be thankful to you this day.

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Re: What is this sound in the house?

Post by likegarden » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:28 pm

At least you heard the noise and know that there might be a problem. I once lived in an apartment in an old house and did not hear the squirrel in the space above my kitchen area. When I had guests, suddenly a squirrel dropped down on us, and I had to chase it out the kitchen window.

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