Sunday, March 23, 2014

Squeaky Floors - Why and what to do

We receive quite a few calls from customers who are tired of hearing the creaks and squeaks across their floors.  If you have ever tiptoed across the floor to keep from waking someone, and the floor gave you away, then you know what we are talking about.  Most of the time, the sound is from wood rubbing on wood.  There are many treatments to this condition, but first it is important to know what the source of the problem is.

  We have found that squeaky floors above a crawlspace or basement, are generally a result of some type of moisture problem.  When there is a fluctuation in moisture content in the floor joists, they tend to swell and shrink. When the wood shrinks, it moves apart, causing the fasteners to become loose.  This shrinkage effect can result in a gap to occur between the sub floor and the floor joist.  The squeaking noise occurs as the fasteners and boards move against each other as weight is placed on them.

  The basement or crawl space does not have to have a "water" problem for the moisture content to be too high.  If you have a vented crawlspace, outside air that enters your crawlspace is full of humidity in the summer.  In a basement, moisture will evaporate from the walls and from the floor. 

The best solution to squeaky floors is to first address the moisture problem below the floor.  In a crawlspace, it is recommended to encapsulate and condition the space so that the moisture content is consistent and low in the crawlspace.  In the basement, it is recommended to have a good vapor barrier on the walls and a whole house dehumidifier installed.

As to repairing the squeaky areas of the floor, this can be simple and complex.  Typically, screwing down the sub floor to the floor joists will eliminate the problem.  It is best to add sub-floor glue during this process.  If it is an area that cannot be screwed down from up above, there are specialty fasteners that can be used to draw the floor down to the joist.  A simpler technique to the specialty fasteners is to attach a 2x4 to the side of the joists and screw at an angle up to the sub floor bringing  it down tight against the joist.  If the squeak is caused by two layers of subfloor rubbing against one another, then the bottom layer needs to be screwed to the top layer from underneath the floor. IMPORTANT: When you are screwing upwards from underneath, make sure your screw is not too long so you will prevent it from going through your hardwood floors or carpet.

  As a general rule, the approach taken to remove the squeak is to remove the rub or gap out of the wood, and remove the moisture content in the air that is causing the rub.  Otherwise, you will constantly be repairing squeaks in the floor as they continue to pop up from high humidity levels in the floor.

  If you would like some professional advice, give us a call for a Free Evaluation and Estimate to your squeaky floors.  Call 317-893-7016.

Larry Ralph Jr.

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