Remember as a kid sneaking around your home at all hours of the day and night? You learned quickly where the squeaks were that would give you away.
Now that it’s your house, those squeaky floors are a problem. You don’t have to live with them. They can be fixed. But first, you must determine the cause.
Cause #1: Season Change
When did you first hear the squeak? Chances are it was during the winter months. As the temperatures drop, the air gets drier. The heat kicks on in your home, and the humidity drops.
Wood changes with every change made in your home. And when both the air gets cooler, and the humidity level drops, the floorboards dry out and give up their moisture content, making them shrink in size.
This contraction can cause the floorboards to squeak. The planks no longer fit flush together, instead rub up against each other or against a nail that no longer fits tight.
Although wintertime changes aren’t a problem, they can be annoying. You can combat these winter problems by increasing the humidity levels inside your home. However, keeping whole house humidity at 40 to 60 percent is difficult, which means you may still hear the occasional squeak until winter fades into summer.
Cause #2: Joists
If your floors have started squeaking and you notice it year round, there might be a problem with the flooring joists. The joists are part of the structure underneath your floors. In order to determine if they are the problem, you will need access to the flooring from underneath, viewing the floors up above. If you see joists in the squeaky areas that appear to be loose, you can purchase a kit that allows you to drill down into the floor and tightly secure the floor and subfloor to the joist. Continue to do so until the squeak disappears.
You can also attach a special brace to secure the subfloor to the joist from beneath. If the problem lies with a gap between the joist and the subfloor, you can insert a wood ship into the gap to eliminate the squeaking in the floors.
Cause #3: Uneven Subfloor
Sometimes the problem starts with the subfloor. When it was installed, it may have been installed incorrectly and is uneven with the structure of your home. It may have also wiggled loose over time. When this happens, it can cause gaps between the floor and the subfloor. When you put weight on the floor, the subfloor rubs against the joists and causes a squeak.
If you can see the subfloor from the basement, have someone walk across it while you stand beneath. If you notice the subfloor shifting with the weight, it might be due to a gap between the subfloor and floor. You can drill up from below into the subfloor to draw the subfloor and floor closer together.