What is all this popping and banging in my home (during frigid temperatures)? – Encore

Posted by in The Unusual, Winter Concerns | February 23, 2015

During the recent frigid temperatures, many home owners heard what they described as loud popping and/or banging sounds in their homes, especially in the attic.  Some even thought that something was thrown up against the side of their home. What is this all about?

The popping and banging sounds were most likely due to relative movement between adjacent building components as the components contracted in the cold temperatures.  That is, as the temperatures became colder all the building components became smaller in length and width.  This contraction sometimes causes the connected components to move relative to each other.  The relative movement is usually resisted by friction or inadvertent surface bonding, but when the friction or bond are overcome by contraction, there may be a popping or banging sound.  This is similar to the popping sound one hears when removing a glass that has stuck to the kitchen countertop after little Johnny accidently set his glass on some spilled Pepsi the night before.

If a structure has been properly constructed and maintained, these popping and banging sounds are usually of no consequence.  In fact, when the ambient temperature warms one may hear similar sounds as the building components expand from the heating and they move relative to each other again.

This phenomenon is commonly experienced by aluminum and vinyl siding during the summer as it snaps and pops during the morning warming and/or during the evening cooling. 

After saying this, it would be prudent to give the exterior, the interior, the attic, and the basement of the home a visual examination when it is safe to do so.  There may be a separation, cracking, shifting, dislodging, etc. that remains after the cyclical movement or the extension of an existing  fracture.