Wood floor popping when the furnace comes on

Q: I’m having a problem with my wood floor popping when the furnace comes on and run for 30 minutes or more. I am getting this very loud popping in the flooring, is that a natural occurrence when the weather out side changes or is that something I need too be concern about?

A: I’ve heard of this a couple of times in my career. Probably the floor contracting a bit with the dry air from the furnace and either stretching the polyurethane coating, pulling away from such that had soaked into the joint, or, if it is a very tightly milled floor (tongue and groove joint being very snug fit) it would make such a noise as each adjacent piece pulls slightly away from each other. Shouldn’t be anything to worry about and should stop after a short time.

Follow-up Q: Whew! I thought I was dealing with something major. I just brought the house about a month ago and I have the paper work on the floors. It appears that the floor was installed in 1998. Is there anything I can do to make this noise stop, like a humidifier?

A: I think I would suggest buying an inexpensive hygrometer from an electronics store, which will show the temperature and relative humidity in the room. A humidifier may help. It is a tricky subject though. Floor manufacturers would tell us to keep the humidity in our homes between 45-55% or so. this would be impossible in Toronto in the dead of winter. I would have rivers of water and ice streaming down my windows. No higher than 40 in winter I would think, and don’t let it drop below 30. Hope that helps.

Related Q: I noticed that some people have written to you about floors that pop when the furnace or air conditioner go on. My house is fourteen years old and this is still a major problem. The popping continues for a good amount of time even after the blower turns off. If I ‘jump’ on the areas they will quiet down for a short while, and then it starts all over again. It’s bad enough that it wakes me during the night, and it is throughout the room. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

A: You probably need someone to come and inspect the home. Perhaps someone from the National Wood Flooring Association. I’m sure they will take a trip to the basement to look at duct work routing etc. Clearly this should not be happening after 14 years of a floor being installed. Something is causing rapid changes to temperature and possibly moisture and likely from beneath the floor.

1 thought on “Wood floor popping when the furnace comes on”

  1. I am second owner of a home built in 2000 in a northern suburb of Detroit. Beautiful oak floors that make me crazy with popping randomly all day and all night. Will do it while the furnace is on, off, summer, winter, doesn’t matter. The wood floors are throughout most of the first floor of the house but the popping mainly occurs in the kitchen area. I am puzzled and annoyed!

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