There are many reasons you may hear a cracking noise in ceiling at night, and while these strange noises can seem mysterious at first, I assure you they can be explained. This article will cover the many different types of ceiling noises you may hear throughout the night, what causes these noises, and the things you can do to make them stop.
By the end of the article, you’ll be able to identify any ceiling noises heard in your home. Then, please make the necessary adjustments to put an end to them for good!
What causes cracking noise in ceiling at night?
The most common causes of ceiling cracking noises include your house structure settling, weather, and temperature changes. Other possibilities include birds or other pests moving about on the roof or in the ceiling.
These noises can be popping, banging, cracking, or even squeaking. You can typically find the cause of the noise by first identifying the type of noise. Then, correlating it to the matching type of noise.
Related: The Different Types of Ceiling Texture and Ceiling Finishes You Should Know
Types of ceiling noises
There are many types of ceiling noises. Each has one or more causes that could produce that particular sound. Below is a list of some of the most common types of ceiling noises you may hear on any given night:
This is the most common type of noise you will hear in the ceiling among all the types. It usually has a sound that resembles branches breaking or eggshells cracking. The ceiling making cracking noises is not necessarily in danger of collapsing or breaking down. There is often an explanation for this related to your home’s structure.
The cracking noise is usually quite gentle. It is often caused by temperature changes that expand and contract your home’s structure.
Another familiar sound you will hear in your ceiling at night is a popping noise. That is, a sound similar to that of bursting bubble wrap or popping bubble gum. This sound is usually quite sudden and short-lived. Although, it can also be fairly loud and may even startle you in the middle of the night.
Like the cracking sound, the scary popping noise from the ceiling can result from house settling and materials expanding and contracting.
When the house is contracting or expanding, there are a variety of noises it can make. This includes cracking and popping, but you may also hear a creaking noise from the ceiling. This unique sound is often associated with the slow closing motion of an old wooden door or when you tip-toe across a creaky wooden floorboard.
In a similar sense, creaking sounds can also be heard in the ceiling due to birds or rodents moving across.
Another sound that often spooks people during the night are banging noises. These can only be described as someone knocking on your above ceiling.
Unfortunately, your fears hold true to an extent. However, the sound is usually not caused by another human knocking on your ceiling, but rather a rodent or a bird banging against it. The loud banging noise can also be caused by loose tree branches of nearby trees slamming against your roof or even the strong wind hits resulting from extreme weather conditions.
The squeaking noise in ceilings is like any other squeaking sound. It resembles the sound of a clown’s shoes as they walk around or those squishy toys for pets that produce a high-pitched noise that cats and dogs find amusing.
In regards to squeaking noises coming from the ceiling, it’s typically caused by two objects rubbing against each other. For example, roof timbers and lumber move against metal nails. The movement of roof rafters can also cause the noise, and the most common reason is thermal expansion of the house structure’s materials (1).
Related: What is Fascia on a House: Understanding this Crucial Part of a Roof
Causes of ceiling noises
As discussed, house settling is among the most common causes of ceiling noises in your house. It can be responsible for all kinds of sounds, including cracking, popping, creaking, and squeaking. The good news is that there is nothing to worry about in this scenario, and simply waiting it out until the materials in your home’s ceiling are finished expanding or retracting.
House settling noises are a common issue among older houses that have been around for a while. It happens when the floor is no longer perfectly level with the land, essentially meaning the house is, at a microscopic level, moving and adjusting itself.
Rodents and birds
These creatures are the most common culprits regarding animal-related ceiling noises. They can be responsible for squeaking, banging, cracking, and creaking sounds. Other creatures you may find causing these kinds of noises in the ceiling include mice and bats.
So, it may be worth getting your ceilings checked to ensure nothing has made its way into the inner structure of your home.
In addition to hearing the sounds of their movements, you may also hear the sounds of these creatures. For example, you may hear the mice squeaking or the screeching of the bats, so be on the lookout.
House settling is not the only explanation behind the expansion and retraction of your home’s structural materials. Whenever the temperature drops or rises, particularly at extreme degrees, the house will either expand or shrink in response to the change. This can cause different types of noises from the ceiling.
Cracking, creaking, and banging are all potential sounds you may hear throughout the night if the seasons change. Also, when the outdoor weather fluctuates as the roof framing lumber moves and shifts.
In more serious cases, the noises in your ceiling could come from an issue with your roofing system or the roof truss. These are the inner structures and beams that hold the roof timbers together. These issues can be caused by wear and tear, resulting in the materials moving when heavy wind blows or when there is heavy rainfall.
This movement creates strange noises in the wood framing. Even louder noises may occur depending on the weather, temperature, and environmental factors that bang against the roof.
Related: The Different Parts of a Roof: Roofing Terms You Should Know
How to stop cracking noise in ceiling
You can employ a few DIY solutions to stop the cracking noise in your ceiling or at least mitigate it to a point where it won’t disturb your sleep. An easy fix would be to spray foam insulation on your ceiling cavities. This will help to block and absorb the sound waves produced by outside elements.
You could also try replacing or tightening any loose shingles in your roof and strengthening the ceiling joists and roof truss.
Another common solution to stop cracking noises in your ceiling is to add diagonal braces to the roof rafters and trusses. Diagonal bracing transfers the concentrated wind loads to other parts of the roofing system. This is so that there is no popping noise or cracking sound resulting from the focused wind on one area.
While these braces can be installed independently, affordable professional roofing experts can do it for you.
Similarly to bracing, you can also install roof fasteners to reduce or eliminate the sound of ceiling cracks in your home. These work by holding your roof in place and creating a thermal bridge to improve your home’s insulation (2).
The main benefit of roof fasteners is that they provide a solution to temperature changes and fluctuating weather patterns. In addition, they absorb the soundwaves and reduce the movement of the roof’s lumber and large timber screws.
Related: The Different Types of Roof Shingles: Their Pros and Cons
Final thoughts on cracking noise in ceiling at night
All in all, there is nothing to fear when it comes to cracking noises in your ceiling. There is always an explanation for the sound, and usually, the solutions are easy. Wind pressure, temperature fluctuations, house settling, roofing issues, and rodents and pests are the most common categories of ceiling noises.
These issues can cause all kinds of sounds in your roof, from popping noises to cracking, creaking, squeaking, and banging. When experiencing these scary noises, I advise you to calm yourself down. First, listen carefully to the type of sound being made, then go over our list of possible explanations for the corresponding sound.
You can investigate the situation and apply one of the DIY or professional fixes to resolve the root of the problem. We hope this article can provide guidance and reassurance for you as you work towards getting the best out of your home and everyday living.
Cracking noise in ceiling at night FAQ
Why does my ceiling make cracking noises at night?
There are many reasons your ceiling may produce strange noises throughout the night. Many of these can be explained by house settling, temperature changes, and weather fluctuations outside. For example, as lumber expands and retracts in response to temperature change, you may start to hear noises. These include popping noises, cracking sounds, or squeaking as all the rafters cross paths and materials rub against each other.
Is it normal to hear cracks in ceiling?
Hearing cracks in the ceiling is quite normal in some instances, particularly if your house is old and has been around for awhile. However, one of the significant causes for ceiling cracks is the settling of the house. This occurs as the home’s foundation readjusts itself to level with the ground. It can also happen when sharp temperature changes cause the roof’s materials to expand or retract.
Why does my house make loud cracking noises?
A cracking noise in ceiling at night in your house is likely related to house settling, temperature changes, strong wind hits, or rodents in the ceiling. However, a more serious explanation for the loud cracking sounds could be an issue with your roofing structure. For example, damaged trusses and beams could cause movement, creating strange noises in the ceiling.
When should I be worried about house cracks?
You don’t need to be worried about house cracks if the issue is related to house settling, weather conditions, or pests in the ceiling. However, when it does become a concern is if all these reasons have been proven wrong and you’ve identified the issue with your roofing structure, professional help may be needed.