Why Does Your Roof Make Loud Sounds When It's Cold?

Waking up in the middle of the night to a loud bang overhead can startle anyone, but should you be concerned if your roof is making loud noises on cold nights?  Although this can be indicative of a larger problem, it is usually just a natural response of your roof to changing temperatures. Follow these four steps to determine where the sound is coming from and what you can do to ensure more quiet and peaceful winter nights. 

Checking for Cracking Ice

Houses in areas that are prone to snow and ice often develop a frozen layer on their roof over the winter. So long as this sheet of ice and snow is not too heavy, this is rarely an issue to be concerned about. Sometimes, however, the ice on your roof will crack loudly and possibly slide down the slope to the ground below. If your roof was icy the night before you heard a bang, it may have simply been ice cracking and settling. Falling tree branches may also hit your roof if they are detached by heavy snows or winds. 

Understanding Roof Contraction

In most cases, a banging sound coming from your roof is actually pressure being released as the wood contracts in the cold. As wood gets cooler, it shrinks faster than the metal nails holding your roof together. This distortion is especially pronounced when hot air rising from your home causes one side of the board to expand while the other is contracting from the cold outside. Once the pressure grows too high, the board snaps and shifts slightly, creating a noisy bang in the process. This process may eventually accumulate into real damage, but it is for the most part a natural response to fluctuating temperatures. 

Ruling Out Plumbing or Other Issues

Before you assume that the noise from your roof is harmless, it may be wise to rule out the actual problems that may be occurring. You may, for example, have a detached pipe running through your roofing space that is banging into a beam whenever water is running. Thumping sounds may also indicate the presence of pests like rats or raccoons living in your rafters. If you suspect that something is not right with your roof, call a roof repair service like Weather Proofing Experts for a second opinion and to correct any problems that are found. 

Muffling Noises From Your Roof

If this noise is keeping you awake at night, you may be able to stop or muffle it with the help of roofing specialists. Consider adding more insulation to your attic and rafters, which will not only increase temperature stability but also deaden any sounds that do occur. For older roofs, it may be best to renovate using more uniform materials, which will expand and contract at the same rate and reduce the need to let off pressure periodically. By taking steps to identify the issue and lessen the noise, you should be able to sleep through those cold nights with no more heart-stopping interruptions.