Floors making a cracking/popping sound

Q: We have Bruce hardwood floors in the downstairs. The house is about 4 years old. When you walk on the floors they make a cracking/popping sound. I heard the hardwood floors popping somewhat from day one, but it is really bad now. Is there any way to fix this problem? Just wondering if the floor is too tight or uneven?

A: Since I don’t know if the floor was nailed down well and what the subfloor is, my best guess is that it is likely environmental. This time of year the furnace goes on and with generally lower humidity levels in the house, some contraction will likely occur. Especially if the milling of the tongue and groove happened to be very tight, you could get a popping sound from the pressure the board is under as it pulls slightly away from the matching rows.

I would check the relative humidity in the home with a hygrometer (you can buy an inexpensive one at most electronics stores) and try to maintain RH in winter between 35-40%. You don’t want it to drop below 30.

Tongue and groove flooring make a popping sound in certain spots

Related Q: My tongue and groove flooring make a popping sound in certain spots. The boards seem to have warped in some areas to the point the floor looks raised. These type of noises didn’t happen before, when I had carpet on the floor, even though there was no padding underneath.

A: It would appear your floor is under pressure from expansion of the boards. The only thing that can cause this is excess moisture in the wood. You either have a leak somewhere or extremely high humidity. You can check humidity with an inexpensive hygrometer. A dehumidifier may help.

Floors making large cracking and popping sounds

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: We have hardwood floor what was installed a couple of years ago in a room that is an addition over our garage. The floors are making large cracking and popping sounds when no one is on them. What is causing this and what can we do to make it stop?

A: Try to keep temperatures and relative humidity in the room at what might be considered normal values. In winter, 72 F with 35-40% RH might help. It might also help to make sure the area beneath the floor is insulated with a vapor barrier.

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