Fix a Squeaking Floor Under Carpet
LESLIE: Annette in Virginia, what can we help you with at your money pit?
ANNETTE: We moved into our house about four years ago and there was water in the basement and we’ve since dried out and finished the basement and we have carpet on top of the subflooring upstairs and the walls and the floor squeak and crack really bad when you walk across them.
TOM: This is a carpeted floor that squeaks?
TOM: OK. The best way to fix a squeaky floor that’s under carpet is to pull the carpet up. Is that a possibility for you?
ANNETTE: Yeah, other than the fact that it’s only four years old [like that] (ph).
TOM: Alright. Well this is going to depend directly upon how annoyed you are (Leslie chuckles) by those squeaks. OK, Annette? But if you pull the carpet up what kind of flooring is underneath that? Is it plywood or is it hardwood?
ANNETTE: It’s plywood.
TOM: OK, perfect. When you pull the carpet up what you’re going to want to do is renail it or, actually, rescrew it. There probably aren’t screws in it yet so you want to screw it down to the floor joist. You’ll see where the nails are that’ll identify where the floor joists are and you want to screw it down using drywall screws. They’re hardened screws. Because the reason you’re getting squeaks is because the plywood is moving and if you could screw it down it’s not going to move, hence it will not squeak. Usually when floors are installed they’re put in with a kind of a nail called a cooler and it’s a seven-penny; like a thin common nail that’s covered with a glue. And the reason it’s called a cooler is because when you drive the nail in the friction of the nail moving into the wood very quickly melts the glue and then it’s supposed to sort of freeze in place but that doesn’t necessarily happen. The wood loosens up and then it rubs up and down on the nails as you walk across it and that makes a terrible squeak sound. So by tightening up the floors by screwing it down that stops that from occurring.
ANNETTE: And what would cause the walls to squeak; like when the temperature changes outside?
TOM: Probably …
ANNETTE: Because sometimes they’ll just pop on their own.
TOM: Well, when you say the walls are squeaking do you hear sort of like a crick sound?
ANNETTE: It’s like a creak and a pop.
TOM: There could be a number of things happening. First of all it’s expansion and contraction. Are you sure it’s not due to plumbing pipes in the walls? Because very often what happens is if you have hot or cold water pipes in the walls, as you turn them on they will expand and sort of draw across the studs and make sort of a squeaking or a cricking sound.
ANNETTE: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s not. It’s in one of the bedrooms up in the front of the house.
TOM: Yeah, then it’s probably just expansion or contraction based on the temperature that’s outside. Not likely to be a problem.
ANNETTE: OK. And this didn’t happen when we bought the house because of the humidity in the basement – is that correct? – and then it just probably dried out?
TOM: Well, certainly indoor air – the indoor air humidity has an effect on that, but the squeaks and the noises are mostly an annoyance and they seldom indicate a structural problem.
ANNETTE: OK, great.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.