Noise in my attic

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Cody
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Noise in my attic

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:58 am

We have the loud noise (as though someone is slamming a cupboard door) in our attic above our dining room. It is not, and I repeat not, a traditional house creek that we get here in Minnesota as winter approaches. It happens 5-20 times per day, mostly at night.

Last night it happened 5 times in 5 minutes. It is usually more random and comes from a ten foot square area in the ceiling. We dropped a crocket ball on the roof about that room and it sounds like that.

We have eliminated all the obvious things. From animals to pipes. I have done 25 different things to change its behavior including shims, pulling back insulation, nailing the trusses together and more including lengthy discussions with truss builders.

I have not even been able to change its behavior or location with any modification. I know building (plus have had two builders up in attic who see nothing unusual there.) I was in the attic at 3 AM once and heard the noise (which was very loud for my wife in the dining room) but very muted for me (seemed below the insulation).

We are in the process of hiring a structural engineer.

Sorry I can't detail the whole deal but this noise must be stopped. Any thoughts? Anything I might have forgotten (beside an exorcist). This is not fun at all.

TIA
Cody

Tramper Al
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Re: Noise in my attic

Post by Tramper Al » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:06 am

Cody wrote:We have the loud noise (as though someone is slamming a cupboard door) in our attic above our dining room. It is not, and I repeat not, a traditional house creek that we get here in Minnesota as winter approaches. It happens 5-20 times per day, mostly at night.

Last night it happened 5 times in 5 minutes. It is usually more random and comes from a ten foot square area in the ceiling. We dropped a crocket ball on the roof about that room and it sounds like that.

We have eliminated all the obvious things. From animals to pipes. I have done 25 different things to change its behavior including shims, pulling back insulation, nailing the trusses together and more including lengthy discussions with truss builders.

I have not even been able to change its behavior or location with any modification. I know building (plus have had two builders up in attic who see nothing unusual there.) I was in the attic at 3 AM once and heard the noise (which was very loud for my wife in the dining room) but very muted for me (seemed below the insulation).

We are in the process of hiring a structural engineer.

Sorry I can't detail the whole deal but this noise must be stopped. Any thoughts? Anything I might have forgotten (beside an exorcist). This is not fun at all.

TIA
Cody
A structural engineer, really? You said you had two builders up there once - I assume you saw both of them leave?

This sounds like a DIY house mystery if ever I heard one.

If it were me, I'd get a comfortable chair, a good book, and a little cognac or port, and stay up there one night until I found the source. I'd probably try a windy night first.

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Post by Jay » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:08 am

I have no answers I can give you, but I'm very interested to hear the source if you ever find out what it is!

Indices
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Post by Indices » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:14 am

Might be a ghost. I'd contact a psychic and hold a seance. :)

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mas
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Re: Noise in my attic

Post by mas » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:16 am

Cody wrote:We have eliminated all the obvious things. ... animals
Animals would have been my guess. What did you do to eliminate this?

Cody
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Hum!

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:17 am

I think if I drink the cognac I won't even mind the noise. :)

I have been up there at 3 AM- 4 AM and of course "nothing:.

That attic is about 3 1/2 feet high at the peak. Real fun.

But I may do that again.

I have considered cutting a person size hole in the sheet rock in the dining room ceiling to be able to stick my head up there when its happening.

More ideas?

Cody
Last edited by Cody on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Turds

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:19 am

There were mouse turds there (must have baseball bats). Thoroughly investigated for bigger turds and wood damage (raccoon style). Nothing.

Cody

Path
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Post by Path » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:26 am

If it because of some rodent/raccoon, You might want to put a camera up in the attic. Record the whole thing so you can go back and see the recording whenever you heard the noise.

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Re: Hum!

Post by Tramper Al » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:26 am

Cody wrote:I think if I drink the cognac I won't even mine the noise. :)

I have been up there at 3 AM- 4 AM and of course "nothing:.

That attic is about 3 1/2 feet high at the peak. Real fun.

But I may do that again.

I have considered cutting a person size hole in the sheet rock in the dining room ceiling to be able to stick my head up there when its happening.

More ideas?

Cody
You said you heard it once while up there, though, and it was quite a bit louder in the dining room than in the attic? So I think you may be right to consider it may be below any insulation between these two spaces.

Of course water/steam in pipes can make noises, and our house actually has a old set of cast iron radiator pipes that are no longer in use. Probably would not be mistaken for a cupboard slamming, though. Most of the old house creaks I've heard stem from wood against wood - just shifting slightly as wind or temperature move things a few millimeters here and there.

Slamming cupboards (when there are apparently no cupboards), I'd think more in terms of the undead, souls in limbo, that sort of thing. Good luck, though.
Path wrote:If it because of some rodent/raccoon, You might want to put a camera up in the attic. Record the whole thing so you can go back and see the recording whenever you heard the noise.
Yeah, that's a good suggestion. I have a "game" camera from the film era that takes a picture based on a motion trigger. You can get a digital one cheap these days. If own a video camera, though, maybe for the cost of one long cable you can sit and relax in your dining room while peaking in. Most modern video equipment won't show ghosts, though, as I understand it.
Last edited by Tramper Al on Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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BigFoot48
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Post by BigFoot48 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:29 am

We had very loud pops in the roof of our flat-roofed house above the bathrooms, small hallway, and master bedroom we discovered when we moved in seven years ago. They typically occurred in the morning and in the evening, but sometimes in the middle of the night. It was very annoying, especially since it wasn't listed by the former owner as a "feature".

I first assumed it was the aged rolled roofing material on the roof, then I thought it was the plywood roof decking shifting. I opened up the ceiling of one of the bathrooms and reinforced the plywood and that helped that room calm down a bit. Thankfully, over the years the noises have largely gone away.

My final conclusion was it was thermal expansion and contraction that was stressing the sheet rock ceilings and making them pop, and spending less time on the roof over the years had allowed it to settle down and self-adjust.
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tivattom
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Try a tool made for isolating rattles?

Post by tivattom » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:38 am

What about using a tool like this? You can attach several sensors to different places, then the tool tells you which sensor experienced the noise the loudest. Move the sensors again, then see if it gets louder or softer. That way you can triangulate the location of the problem. I know auto mechanics use this type of tool to isolate rattles and squeaks that only happen when driving.

http://www.denlorstools.com/home/dt1/pa ... ronic.html

or this one:

http://www.denlorstools.com/home/dt1/pa ... ess_4.html

Cody
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Sheet rock

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:42 am

Its my understanding that sense sheet rock is inert it will not make noise or expand much? But it seems the noise is either sheetrock, plastic vapor barrier, or trusses to which they are fastened, sense the noise "seems" below the insulation.

The addition is 25 years old and it seems odd the noise has come to us now. I am planning on disconnecting our deck from the house to see if I have noise transfer up the wall to the ceiling rafter. Not hopeful there because the noise comes from more in the middle of the room (approximately half way from the center of the truss to the outside wall.

One odd thing is the side rock was put on the ceiling before the partition wall was put up. So the sheet rock covers the entire ceiling of the addition (including our bedroom). and then the wall was build. Have tried several things there to see if it is causing the problem but no luck.
Cody

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Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:47 am

ivattom: they look like they need to be fastened to metal?

I do like that angle to pin point the noise.

Unfortunately it does tend to move: 90% of the time with a 4 foot area and the rest within 8 feet of that or so.

Keep the ideas going please. I'm very appreciative.
Cody

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Post by rwwoods » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:55 am

We once had flying squirrels living in the space above the celing. They use would bowl their cache of nuts for fun!
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Cody
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Live trap

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:04 pm

Just to rule out animals I just set a live trap - don't think that's it but.

Also next time I hear the noise I'm haulin' ass up there. Its a long ways into the garage, up the ladder and the last possible room in the house.

Cody

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Post by RyanC » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:17 pm

We just evicted some squirrels from our attic. Looking at the insulation, it was very obvious there were squirrels there, and one time when I was crawling around, we saw one come up from the wall. That was pretty exciting. If you don't see them in the attic space, could they be in the vertical walls below that space? Sometimes the squirrels would get to the middle of our house and rustle around in the wall, it was really noisy.

Also, have you checked the exterior for any possible entrances for animals? We had a chewed plastic roof vent, and a small crack under the eaves where the top roof met a lower roof. Once I got both openings sealed, the noises stopped.

Good luck!

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Post by expat » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:26 pm

Maybe you could place a webcam there to see what is happening?

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Post by JasonR » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:28 pm

Perhaps some sort of damper, like from a dryer or exhaust vent or something. Sometimes they run those out between floor joists. Does it happen on windy nights? Could it be a tree limb hitting the roof?

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Animal house

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:32 pm

I don't see much evidence (other than the mouse turds) but we'll see if the trap works..

I had an odd one this summer where some animal chewed off our garden hose - I assume to get water. That is right below a wall in my noise room.

What is this wild kingdom?

I have seen raccoons and possums around over the years.

Man I hope its an animal making the noise but it doesn't quite fit the M.O of the noise.

Cody

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Re: Animal house

Post by JasonR » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:39 pm

Cody wrote:That is right below a wall in my noise room...
Okay, now I think it's air in that pipe, causing it to kick around. I had a similar problem years ago, now that I recall. Installed an air cylinder-type thing to the pipe.

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Post by rec7 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:06 pm

Cody this might sounds silly but spend part of the night up there if you don't hear the noise you can be sure it is an animal.
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Post by jeff mc » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:51 pm

water droplets in a steam pipe. the droplets are pushed through the pipe silently, until they hit a sharp turn. steam makes the turn, the water droplets slam into the side of the pipe (w/ a thud). you must have a 90 degree pipe turn right where you hear that thudding (pinging?). it's a loud ping/thud, but the insulation drowns out the higher pitched pinging part of the sound spectrum, so you only hear the more bass "thud" sound being filtered through.

get to the piping and make it a 45 and 45 turn instead of the suspected 90 right turn.

if not water droplets in a steam pipe, then it's some other type of piping (natural gas?) that loses pressure or gets a pressure spike and rattles around when it shuts off (or opens up), banging into floor joists. find and secure the loose pipe.

good luck!

(no actual idea what it is, of course, but if i state the cause and solution w/ such confidence... it *must* be right... right?)

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Lots

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:02 pm

Lots of ideas.

But again all the usual suspects don't fit. Pipes, vents, electrical, outside tree branches, neighbor kid. None to be found,

The garden hoes pipe is in the basement and is not directly below the dining room. I just mentioned it since an animal was lurking.

We did try to 2 x 4 supports under the partition wall from the basement (to force it up to the ceiling) and also used shims along the top of the partition to see what would happen - nothing.

Tomorrow I am going to remove our deck from the rim joust (outside of course) to see if.... I'll wait until I see if anything I did today works first. The weather is getting nasty here in Minnesota so I'll need to replace the insulation up in the attic soon.

Cody

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Post by Toolbert » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:14 pm

Two classics are:

1. Plastic piping, esp. plastic drain piping, that expands and contracts and can make pretty loud pops as it slips through tight fits in the wood members it passes through.

2. Is it a truss framed ceiling above that partition wall? Can be trouble from normal movement of the bottom chord of roof trusses, when the walls below are improperly attached and don't allow for the movement inherent in the trusses. This is a common builder/remodeler error ... when attaching ceiling drywall where a truss ceiling meets a partition wall, the ceiling drywall is supposed to "float", to be supported by the top edge of the wall drywall, and left unattached to the roof truss.

Cody
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Toolbert

Post by Cody » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:20 pm

Toolbert: you know your stuff. I have been investigating that angle on the partition wall (at the top).

Apparently normally that mistake shows up as a crack in the joint at the top of the partition sheet rock. We have that but it has been that way for 20 years (We covered the crack with a cove molding.

That said because the sheet rock was put on the ceiling before the partition was built I have to make a big mess to find out how it was built. So if today's work doesn't take I'll do that next.

What surprises us is that the sound is in the middle of the room - which can occasionally happen with this problem (transfer) but mostly the noise stays near the wall if it poorly attached.

Cody

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Post by Grasshopper » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:35 pm

No help, but I am on the edge of my seat. This is way better than Clue.

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Post by deerhunter » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:37 pm

We purchased our first house from a widow lady. Her husband had built the house and planted a lot of fruit trees and flowers. It was his pride and joy. Anyway for the first few months odd things happened. Pictures would fall off the wall in the middle of the night. Something would pound on the new water well pipe we drilled. We would hear all kind of strange noises.
Finally one night I sat down in the house and said, "Herman, We are taking good care of your house and gardens. Could you please let us sleep at night with out bothering us". Believe it or not that ended the problem. I swear this is a true story.
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Post by Christine_NM » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:42 pm

Cody -

I'm way out of my depth here and probably shouldn't repy, but here are 2 experiences of mine.

1. In my old house I could tell animal movement from structural movement -- it sounds soft and rustly like an animal, and it responds in some way if you bang on the wall. It stopped when I had a new roof put on.

2. Some roof work was done as part of the inspection when I bought a new house. After I moved in, for several months there was occasional loud popping all over the flat part of the roof, then it stopped and has not restarted even after turning the furnace on (so not the duct work I guess). I'm glad to see Bigfoot's reply which sounds similar to my issue. Probably whatever was "fixed" by the roof inspection has settled and undone itself. Like yours, the noise was very loud indoors but not audible outdoors.
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Post by Stonebr » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:04 pm

You may be overlooking the obvious: Halloween is only a few days away.

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Post by PaddyMac » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:55 pm

When we first walked into our house in New Mexico we thought it had a lovely warm feeling.

Some time later a neighbor (the local "witch doctor") said she had blessed the house for the previous owners because it had not sold in over a year. She said she found some bad areas in the house. A week or so later we put an offer in, so the blessing worked!

Just saying. I don't believe any of that stuff. But maybe find someone with a gift to check out your home if all else fails!

We did have a house once where the air in the water pipes would emit a loud "bonk" but it sounds like you don't have any pipes in that location.

renter
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Post by renter » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:45 am

Try calling into Dr. Bill Wattenburg's radio show on KGO in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sat. or Sun. night from 10 pm to 1 am. Pacific Time. He's a very popular and smart old scientist and answers questions not unlike this one from time to time.

Edited to add: if you're not in the SF Bay Area you can still listen to the show live at www.kgo.com (click the radio, not TV, link).

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Re: Noise in my attic

Post by LH » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:00 am

Cody wrote:We have the loud noise (as though someone is slamming a cupboard door) in our attic above our dining room........
Its me and my cupboard living in your attic, sorry for the noise.

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celia
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Post by celia » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:54 am

Could a homeless person be sleeping there at night? homeless critter?

Could something be crawling under the house but it sounds like the attic (because the insulation muffles the noise or something). We once had "crickets" in a floor heater vent. I sprayed for them. I crawled under the house to look and spray. I kept after them for about a month. Then one day I was standing next to the heater in the hallway and heard them, but in the ceiling! I looked up and the light on the smoke detector indicated the battery was low! It sounded like our crickets. Moral: We were sure it was coming from the floor but it was coming from the ceiling.

BTW, Are there any smoke detectors near where the noise is?

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Post by zed » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:32 am

Water hammer?

Does the sound coincide with turning off a tap, flushing the toilet or cycling of the lawn irrigation?

Do you have a hot water recirculating pump?

We had a problem with the latter going bad. It would make a series of hard slamming sounds that we could hear from everywhere in the house.

Test your doorbell -- maybe somebody's at the door :idea:

Cody
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Update

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:09 am

Well I feel a little like "Julie and Julia" "blogging" my adventures in the attic.

Update: Did three things to the attic yesterday. First set a squirrel trap, second put two long screws in a cracked truss (near the peak) and put seven, yes seven, pipe clams up there.

No animals caught! The two screws would probably not stop the noise in such a large area.

However I clamped joists together in the area where the noise comes from most often. Put them on the chords (to which the sheet rock is screwed) and up above that on the angles support trusses.

Guess what - the noise was greatly reduced (at least last night) and even moved to a different part of the room. No longer the loud cupboard door slamming. I am not attaching the problem just the symptom (which bothers me).

But we slept!!!!!

Today - I will replace two clamps with screwed to the joist 2x4's. See if that continues to work. Will do that daily until I know if the symptom is gone.

Cody

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Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:19 am

I'm an amateur DIY builder so I would expect to have some idea about this problem.
But I have to say I'm baffled by the description of the noise you're hearing, this door slamming. Sounds like something is building up tension and then letting go all at once, like a small earthquake. Animal sounds aren't generally like that...

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Wiz

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:29 am

Wiz - this has been no fun - it is hard to be taken seriously on the loudness. My 7 year old grand daughter heard it and said "that was cool", then the second and third time it banged she said "Ok, this is no fun anymore."

I didn't (don't) expect it was an animal but since I was only 99.9% sure it wasn't so I decided to go for it.

I feel like a scientist who comes up the a theory based on the know facts only to find the theory is worthless. All it does is eliminate the theory for a new one. (I'm on theory 25). I suppose that's how gravity was invention (oh I mean the theory of gravity). :? "Facts to theory".

Cody

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Exhaust Vent

Post by schmoglehead » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:36 am

We had this type of sound from an exhaust vent cover. It happened when the wind was blowiing in just the right direction to make the cover flap open and closed.

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Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:48 am

We'll assume this attic is ventilated properly so that there is no chance of any air pressure buildup causing something to pop.
So it would seem like some kind of thermally induced expansion and contraction might be causing this.

You can also have expansion/contraction of wood due to variations in humidity, but that tends to be a seasonal thing and doesn't happen overnight.

I will say that most of the puzzling house problems I've troubleshot have been electrical in nature, not structural or phantasmagorical...

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Post by arthurb999 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:58 am

Pipe clamps? What type of pipes did you clamp? forced hot water?

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Pipe

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:13 am

Sorry - my pipe clamps are 4 foot long made of metal - for clamping wood together (glued up boards) - Sorry, I think that's what my dad called them.

So I opened them up and clamped two joist closer together with each clamp - makes the joists more rigid than without. All this does, I think, is firm up the trusses to reduce the noise being transferred.

I still don't know the source.
Cody

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Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:57 am

Pipe clamps, yes, with the orange adjustable parts on each end.
So you put the clamp perpendicularly across two joints 16" or 24" apart?
Odd that this would make any difference at all...

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Re: Update

Post by FarmGirl » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:01 am

Cody wrote: put two long screws in a cracked truss (near the peak)
That's not right, what caused it to crack? It sounded to me like you understood it was a problem and were planning to add a piece alongside (sistering). Make it a good long piece and use more screws for a complete load transfer. I might consider sistering a peice in on each side of the truss. How many layers of roofing are on the roof? Perhaps the weight load is too much for the trusses? How old is this house? How old do you think the crack is?

Glad you found enough resolution to sleep last night!

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Post by The Wizard » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:04 am

This "crack" may have just been a drying/shrinkage crack in the middle of the 2x4 which is OK.
If it was a "breaking crack" that's not good.
Which was it, Cody?

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Answers

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:49 pm

FarmGirl - Just got done from on high. The shingles where put on 3 years ago with all old removed. This addition is 25 years old. No idea on the crack
(how long). I do like the idea of sistering on the truss - I would have to screw over the top of the truss plates (metal connectors between supports).

I had thought some time ago of trying to support with plywood on each side of the trusses. This would give the added advantage of stablizing in all directions.

Ps - I replaced 3 of the clamps with 2x4's running across the joists (makes them tighter and more rigid).

Wiz- the cracked truss was at the peak - starts on the bottom of the truss for 4-6 inches and seems to turn toward the 4" side of the 2x4 (so a total crack length of 12 inches right at the peal). Very hard to tell if its old - the wood certainly is dry. I suppose I could put a 3/4" plywood triangle over it and screw it in. I can only do one side of it since it the outer most truss and has brown board and cedar siding on the other side.

Tonight we'll know if the noise is back or if we are doing something right to at least mitigate the noise. Last night was quiter and it had moved to the middle of the room.

Cody
Last edited by Cody on Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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It appears

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:54 pm

It looks like the partition is nails at perhaps each truss which is should not be. I am skeptical about that as a cause of the noise because we have not had the noise until the last 2 years or so.

Any thoughts?

The noise has never being located in the partition wall area. It is always more to the middle of the room (transfer possibly). The partition is basically under the center of the 28 foot trusses that run perpendicular to the wall. (and apparently nailed at each truss and not free floating as it should be). As I understand it should be fastened only at the ends of the wall.

A saws-all would do it - make a nice mess. So I want to be sure it it worth a try.

Cody

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Post by fishndoc » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:19 pm

As I prefer procrastination in most situations that are without a clear course of action, I would just sit tight, and see what happens. So far, you've seen no signs of whatever this is causing damage to your home, and the suggestions to check it out sound pretty damaging to me.

Besides, you will get used to it with time. While in school, I once lived at a location with a railroad switching yard, a river lock and dam (lots of boat horns for signals), and an airport nearby. Believe it or not, after a while I got so used to the noise, I couldn't sleep when I was away where it was quiet at night.
" Successful investing involves doing just a few things right, and avoiding serious mistakes." - J. Bogle

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GregLee
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Post by GregLee » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:23 pm

I have sounds in my attic, too. I've not sure what is making them, but I'm pretty sure that rats is one thing. Possible also is cats on the roof chasing rats or birds, except some of the sounds suggest awfully big cats.
Greg, retired 8/10.

Cody
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Noise in my attic

Post by Cody » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:07 am

Well no noise is good noise. Last night we had none. Now that could be because of all the crawling around and the steps I told you about on my last posts. (I bent back a couple of nails that had missed the rafter as the came down through the plywood on top too).

Or it could be the fact that the temperature has held pretty steady at 40-45 degrees for the last day or two. Sun seems to heat of up this south facing roof and then at night the noise returns.

Friday we get sun again and 53 degree highs and then 29 degrees at night. The should be a good test.

Cross your finger.

Cody

RTR2006
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Post by RTR2006 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:19 pm

Can you rent, borrow or steal a surveillance video camera, turn it on and leave it running up there to record what's happening?

RTR

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