Decoding House Sounds and When to Worry

Evelyn Long

May 21, 2024

southern home experiencing house sounds

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Strange house sounds and things that go bump in the night are the fodder of many scary stories. However, all houses make noises. Some are perfectly natural and part of a home settling slightly, changing temperatures or heating and cooling equipment. Others should make you sit up and take notice and call a repairman immediately. 

What’s That Sound?

Some of the sounds a house might make include:

  • Popping
  • Hissing & Gurgling
  • Creaking
  • Rattling & Vibrating
  • Humming 
  • Scratching
  • Moaning

If the wind blows outside, you may hear a tree branch scratching against the exterior or air whistling through the siding. Knowing what the sound might be allows you to rule out temporary situations and determine if you should initiate repairs. 

Keep in mind that some noises come from outside your home. If you live near a quarry, you may hear booms when they blast rocks, for example. Airports and interstates are known for creating noise pollution. Noise from expanding highway systems can also negatively impact your residential living. Noise pollution negatively impacts people’s health, causing issues such as hearing loss, high blood pressure and other stress factors. 

Some sounds may not be fixable unless you move to another location. However, you can work with local and federal authorities to find solutions, such as adding soundproof barriers to the side of interstate highways. 

airplane flying in the sky

Are the House Sounds Serious?

Once you’ve lived in a house for a while, you get used to the noises it makes. You walk across a creaky floor board and no longer hear it. If you’ve just moved in or this is your first home, you may jump when the house pops. One danger is getting so used to noises that you tune them out. There are times when problems with the foundation or your HVAC unit start small and increase over time. Repairing things before they become major disasters saves money in the long run. 


If you live in an area where temperatures vary by season, you may notice your house popping. The materials used to build most homes expand and contract as the weather changes. Occasional popping and cracking sounds are normal and rarely something to worry about. 

If the sounds occur frequently or you notice damage after the sound, such as cracked walls, you should be more concerned. Observe the outside of the house. Are any bricks popping out or cracking? You may have a foundation problem and should consult a professional on the best way to repair your house before it becomes unstable.  

Hissing & Gurgling

Do you hear hissing or gurgling coming from inside the walls? It could be water pressure building up in your pipes. You might have air in the pipes, which is usually not a major issue and will resolve as you run the faucets. 

You may also be hearing your hot water heater as it empties during use and refills with cold water that hits the warmth from the heating elements. 

Another cause is high pressure, which can damage your pipes and lead to high water bills. If you notice water coming out particularly hard and fast, it’s probably time to talk to your plumber and your local water company about installing a regulator to keep pressure consistently steady. 

Leaks or weakened plumbing joints can also result in hissing. If you clear the air by running your faucets for five or ten minutes and still hear hissing, it’s probably time to call a professional. 

white house with bright yellow front door


Every house has some shift in the foundation over time. Movement can cause stairs and floors to creak as you walk across them. You can get a DIY kit at a local home improvement store and shoot extra nails into treads or you can get under the house and secure flooring.

It’s always a good idea to go ahead and crawl under the house or view the floor from the basement to ensure there isn’t additional damage. Check for evidence of termites or other pests at the same time.

Creaking is rarely something of concern for most houses. However, any new sound should be investigated. 

Rattling & Vibrating

The most likely culprit for rattling and vibrating is machinery in your home, such as HVAC equipment. Simple changes, such as a filter swap can improve efficiency by 15% and reduce the clanks, rattles and sounds from your system. 

A light rattle or vibration when the unit kicks on is likely nothing to worry about. If you hear loud clunks, call your HVAC specialist to inspect your system and make sure it’s working properly. If you hear a continuous rattle, you may need some fixes in your ductwork. 


A low-frequency hum may be caused by electrical wiring and is a cause for concern. The Electrical Safety Foundation estimates electrical issues are responsible for 51,000 fires annually and $1.3 billion in damage. 

If you hear humming, first isolate the sound. It’s possible it is coming from an electronic device you can unplug or a lightbulb you can replace. If you can’t isolate and stop the sound, call an electrician to be on the safe side.

Some of the causes of humming can be loose wires, an overloaded circuit breaker or frayed wires. 

cute raccoon with blue eyes


Do you hear scratching sounds coming from your attic? You likely have some pests taking up home there. Inspect the area carefully for evidence of rats, mice, racoons or squirrels. If you find evidence of any unwanted house guests, call an extermination company to remove them. There are humane companies who will relocate critters to a new location.


Do you hear low moaning sounds in your house? The noise could be dearly departed jokester Uncle Larry pulling a prank on you, but it’s most likely the wind whistling through the eaves of your house or getting up under a loose piece of siding. Pay attention to when you hear the sound and if it coincides with weather conditions. 

Call the siding company or your roofer for an inspection to ensure everything is secured. If it is moaning or whistling, sound is getting up under loose areas. A strong enough wind could rip your siding or part of your roof loose. Now is the time to inspect and fix any issues. 

House Sounds Are Common

Noises from a home are quite common. You may worry when you hear something unusual, but tracking down the source is the first step to fixing the issue. Most of the time, the noises are nothing to worry about. It’s still a good idea to call professionals to inspect systems and make sure your home remains the safe refuge you need it to be to escape a hectic world. 

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