Some investigators might make a big deal about a squeaky floor in an otherwise delightful home you are thinking about buying, or you might notice that your floors have started squeaking recently.
Is this really a serious issue?
Are squeaky floors dangerous?
No, squeaky floors are not dangerous, nor are they usually a sign of a serious issue. A squeaky floor itself is more annoying than anything else, and the underlying causes of a squeaky floor tend to require a simple fix. It is important to check your foundation for things like cracks, however, just to be safe.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes squeaky floors, as well as how to fix one.
What Causes Squeaky Floors?
Again, most of the causes of a squeaky floor are minor things that are fairly easy to fix, but you should look for each of these things so that you can employ the proper solution.
Consider the following information when trying to identify the source of your squeaky floor:
The floor joists in the subfloor may not be level, or a joist may be damaged.
If the floor joists are not level, the subfloor is not being evenly supported, which creates gaps that work nails loose.
Nails can also become loose if a floor joist is damaged or not blocked correctly.
Any gaps, loose nails, or uneven subflooring tend to be the source of the squeaking if this is your main issue.
Humidity or Temperature Problems
A hardwood floor may expand during the summer and shrink in the winter.
Any sudden changes in the level of moisture or temperature will affect when the hardwood contracts or expands.
These subtle changes in the sizes of the hardwood boards are enough to pry the flooring loose from the subflooring.
If the floor feels excessively moist and spongy, you probably have a water infiltration problem, which is a little more serious and costly than a loose bit of flooring from weather changes.
Poor Flooring Installation
Sometimes, the flooring or subflooring have simply not been glued or nailed down correctly.
If the sheets of wood are not laid down fast enough after the glue has been placed, the glue will not set between the flooring and the joists.
Also, if an automatic nail gun is being used to place the nails in the sheeting, this may be done too quickly, which means a lot of nails do not get put through the floor joists, only the sheeting.
Both of these techniques result in very insecure and squeaky floors.
Foundation Shifts and Settling
The foundation of your home might shift over time due to expansions in the soil around it.
When these shifts occur in the foundation, they can put a lot of stress on the floor support.
This stress can cause the flooring to become damaged or rub together, which makes the floorboards squeak.
If post tension slabs in the foundation have not been installed properly, it can also put a lot of stress on the floors of your home.
This, as well as cracks in the foundation, are the most serious sources of a squeaky floor, though they can be fixed.
How to Fix Squeaky Floors
There is a solution for every underlying cause of a squeaky floor, and most of them are pretty simple fixes.
Once you have identified the source of your problem, you can employ one of the following solutions:
For an uneven, loose, or incorrectly spaced subflooring, adding screws typically fixes the problem.
Put them in wherever the squeaking is coming from.
This should work, as screws tend to hold better and do not get worked loose very easily, unlike nails.
Humidity or Temperature Solutions
As the shrinking and expanding of hardwood due to the elements is unavoidable, the only thing that can be done is sprinkling graphite or talcum powder into the squeaking areas.
Step on the powder to work it into any small gaps, which will reduce the squeaking.
If there is a water leak that makes your floors both squeaky and spongy, the entire area of flooring and subflooring will need to be pulled up to identify and repair the leak, and those bits of flooring will probably need to be replaced.
Flooring Installation Solutions
For improper flooring installation, try adding screws first.
If that is not enough to fix the issue, you can always replace the flooring if it is too misshapen, or have it reinstalled if it is still in decent condition.
Flooring should always be given time to acclimate before installing it, which will reduce the amount of shifting or bowing that may cause squeaking.
Foundation Shifting Solutions
So long as there are no cracks in the foundation, your home and your floors should be fine.
Try the talcum or graphite powder method for the squeaking areas.
If you do find a crack or suspect that there may be something wrong with the post tension slabs, contact a skilled contractor to see what they can do to fix the problem and prevent further damage.
Thankfully, squeaky floors are not dangerous, though some home inspectors make them out to be.
Most of the sources of a squeaky floor are minor issues that are simple and inexpensive to fix, but if there is something wrong with your foundation, you should contact a skilled contractor as soon as possible.