Ask LH: How Can I Stop My Noisy House From Squeaking And Creaking?

How Can I Stop My Noisy House From Squeaking, Creaking, and Whining?

Dear Lifehacker, I live in an apartment with squeaky doors, creaking floors and whining pipes. I want peace and quiet, but I don't know what to do. Can you help? Sincerely, Bleeding Ears

Dear Bleeding,

The good news is you can fix just about any noisy house problem you can think of. The bad news is some fixes require much more work than others, and those fixes may require action -- or at least permission -- on the part of your landlord. (Homeowners obviously don't have this problem). You can probably improve the situation with a minor amount of work and possibly fix it completely with a lot more. Let's take a look at your options and you can decide how far you're willing to go.

De-Squeak Your Doors

How Can I Stop My Noisy House From Squeaking, Creaking, and Whining?

You can stop squeaking doors very easily. Of all the problems you want to fix, this one takes the least work. Most people, by default, turn to WD-40 to solve this issue when they shouldn't. WD-40 isn't a true lubricant. While it will likely solve the noise problem, it will attract dirt and probably turn your door's hinge pins black. You don't want that and should try a better, more effective solution.

If you don't want to go buy anything, vegetable oil works (even in cooking spray form). I've used this on my own door hinges to great effect. Some people worry it may attract ants or other pests, but you shouldn't have this problem so long as you don't drench the door in canola oil. In the last year I've dealt with some pretty aggressive pest issues, and they never bothered going anywhere near a door hinge. Alternatively, you can just use a candle, but the stiffness may cause some trouble.

For those who prefer to spend money on their fix and avoid any of these potential (yet unlikely) issues, you have quite a few options. Surfboard wax and petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) work, but you can also just stop by your local hardware store and buy lubricating oil. As the name suggests, it's oil, and it lubricates things. It will take the squeak out of your door in no time. Just remove the hinge pin from the door, set the door aside and squirt some oil in. Rub a little oil on the pin too. If you're using an alternative method, like cooking oil or a candle, the same technique applies. When done, put it all back together, and you should have a virtually silent door.

Stop Creaking Floors

How Can I Stop My Noisy House From Squeaking, Creaking, and Whining?

Creaky floors take a little more work to fix. When we consulted the DIY experts over at Stack Exchange, one of them (shirlock homes, specifically) explained the route cause of the problem:

The main cause of wood floors squeaking is wood shrinkage around the nails. If you can localise the areas that are the worst, a common way to minimize squeaks is to drive screws up from the bottom through the subfloor into the hardwood. Be absolutely sure to use screws that will are long enough to grab the hardwood, but short enough not to stick through.

As many people have encountered this problem over the years, a very specific fix exists that doesn't require much thought: counter snaps. These things exist solely for fixing creaking in the floor, so if you locate the root problem you can fix it pretty quickly.

Calm Your Whiny Pipes

How Can I Stop My Noisy House From Squeaking, Creaking, and Whining?

Noisy, whiney pipes have a few different causes, and you probably won't want to fix them yourself (unless you know what to do). Let's talk about a few possibilities.

Wailing can occur when you have excessive water pressure -- more than 35,000 kilograms per square metre, to be exact. You'd need to attach a pressure gauge just to check and then install a pressure regular if you determine the source of the noise results from high pressure. You probably don't want to do this yourself ,even if you own your home, and renters obviously need to speak with their landlord about the problem.

While excess water pressure most likely causes your noisy pipes, a few other things can create issues as well. Loose pipes, pipes that touch their framing without any cushioning and a water-logged air cushioning chamber can all result in unwanted noise. Again, you don't want to fix this yourself if you don't know how. Call a professional to handle it for you, or consult your landlord if you rent.

We don't have good news all around, but you should be able to fix the majority of the problems and maybe you can get help to fix them all. Good luck, and we hope you have a silent future ahead.

Cheers Lifehacker

Photos by Niv Koren (Shutterstock), Dabarti CGI (Shutterstock), ponsulak (Shutterstock), 578 Foot (Shutterstock).


Comments

    Good luck fixing squeaky floor boards by screwing up from the bottom.! I don't know about you guys, but I find that in general the floor boards are held down on anything from 4"x2" to 3"x6" hardwood bearers or bigger... that's some friggin seriously long screws..! You could try to screw up at an angle from the side of the bearer, but you risk going too far into the room above or cracking the bearer. Another way to go if there is no other way, is to lay down boards over the floor boards. This sidesteps the screwing up from the bottom issue, but you need to do the entire floor and increase the gap under doors. On the other hand simply putting a screw in from the top (counter sunk) would be a lot easier.! Old houses, and we own an old Qld bungalow, are going to make noises, so get used to it and save your money, or move..! :)

    Last edited 09/10/13 9:21 am

      I've seen on some DIY show adding smaller pieces of wood and screwing in one way to the original joists and the other way up into the floor boards. That elevates that problem but probably increases your chance of failure.

      Depending on the boards, if the gap between the tongue and groove is wide enough, you can drive in a nail at 45 degrees or so into the joist and use a nail punch to push it far enough down that it's almost invisible. Oval brads make it easier to hide the nail head (they're the norm for floorboards anyway).

    Yeah, I've seen that done, but as you say it doesn't necessarily stop the creaking, at least not for long anyway... :)

    My house emits from all manner of weird noises. It never used to bother me much, but that was before I saw The Conjuring. Time to move out, methinks.

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