Creaky floors and joists

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I hope someone can help me with this problem. We bought this townhouse two years ago. When we first saw the house it was empty. We had the home inspection and nothing really was wrong with the house. Then the day we moved in, after the movers were gone, we found that the second floor was very, very creaky. It was really, really bad. The worst part was the master bedroom. We called a few people to look at it and a carpet company came over and they lifted all the carpeting and screwed down the floors. It was great. There was one problem area, about a three foot area next to the wall adjacent to the master bathroom (the master bath has creaks too, but that wasn't screwed down because of the tile). The guy put shims between the floor and the wall and it was fine. We had no squeaks or creaks at all. That was done in May 2005. By December 2005 the creaks were back, but just in that one area by the wall. But this time it sounded different, like the joists were making the noise. These were louder cracking sounds. We called contractors about this and one guy came out and noticed that the floor in that area dipped down a bit. He removed part of the subfloor to check the joists and thought they were okay, except that one of them was a bit lower than the other. He put a different piece of wood back and suggested that we get all new subflooring and hardwood floors installed. We weren't too sure about that and decided to get in touch with the builder and the warranty company (the house has a ten year structural warranty, and we were in the 7th year). They came to check it out and said that there was no structural problems. That was in May 2006. A neighbor was there that day and he pulled the carpet back again and screwed down the floors a second time. Again, no more noise. Now, Dec. 2006, the noise slowly comes back and today it seems that the subfloor is not creaking, but it is the joists that are making this loud cracking sound. The sound also appears in the bathroom and runs along about three or four joists and it sounds like the wall makes a noise too. This is driving me crazy. It is also worse than before. I don't know what to do anymore. I thought it might be because there is one piece of subflooring that is different than the rest of the floor or that the bathroom subflooring is the culprit. I hope someone can point me in the right direction about how we should proceed with this. Thanks in advance.
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Of course the builder would say there is no structural problem , get out a few pros to find and verify the issue in writing, so you know what to demand from your builder now and in court if needed. Document and photograph everything. The building inspector, an engineer, or architect and contractor is needed. The inspector is free.
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On Feb 7, 7:26 am, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

It's possbile it's structural, but not that likely. It's very common for floors that were done fast and cheap to have this problem, which makes noise abnd is very annoying, but doesn't mean the structure isn't sound or is in danger of failing. To be done properly, the plywood should have been glued with construction adhesive, as well as screwed or nailed (screws are better). If done improperly, you have this problem, but I doubt it meets the definition of structural in new home warranties.
When the floor was screwed down, did they put screws no less than 6" apart along all the joists? In this difficult case, I'd put them every 4" If that doesn't solve it, then depending on what sound remains, I might consider opening the ceiling below, depending on area, etc, so that you can inspect the suspect joists hangers, nailing, etc. Taking out the ceiling might be easier than removing the flooring.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The joists may be non-existent in that area.
I had a small section of flooring on a step 40" x 15" that seemed to not be level, but I didn't worry about it. It had three 1" thick oak boards, each about 5" wide by 40" long.
Last Saturday I stepped on it, and the wood gave way and I went down into the crawl space. Amazingly, there was no sub-floor, and no joists underneath. There were screws through the oak planks, but on two of them they went into thin air. The planks were held together by small dowel pins between them, and the front one was on a 4x4 beam, but the two behind it were not attached to anything. The front board remained intact, the two behind it collapsed.
These houses were built in 1963 with wood floors, and I think that it's been this way all that time. No one does real wood floors with 1" thick oak anymore.
It was very difficult to repair, due to the tiny amount of crawl space. I figured out a way to attach some joists, and put in a sub-floor, and now I'm putting in some 1/2" oak planks on top of the sub floor.
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On Feb 7, 9:00 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

When the builder came out to see the house he was with the inspector, a structural engineer, from the warranty company, who said the joists were sound. You are correct, this did not meet the definition of structural defect in the home warranty.
When our neighbor screwed down the floor the second time, he put tons of nails in the subflooring, at least 6 inches apart or even closer together.
I am just baffled by this problem. Could humidity play a part in it?
I am going to start calling more contractors to come out and look at it again. But the last time we were calling around, very few were very interested to even come out and take a look at it. The one guy who did really wasn't too sure what to do about it.
Thanks for all the input!!
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Sell the house and get a house with a slab and you won't hear any creaks.
Or face the facts. All housing is temporary and 2 story houses are more temporary than one story houses. Nothing lasts forever and your house is aging and settling normally. All houses age and settle. Face the facts.
If it bothers you, then hire a contractor and ask for a 10 year warranty that he will keep your house creak free. Pay him well and he will come out every year or two and remove your flooring and tighten all the screws and you will be happy.
On 7 Feb 2007 03:52:45 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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It is not normal, nor does anyone have to accept this. Sure, you can have an occasional floor creak problem, but if the house is properly constructed, a few screws should solve the problem. I've been living 10 yrs in a 22 year old 2 story frame house, with basement and I have not had a single floor squeak creak problem. And I've seen condos, like the OP has, where the whole living room floor squeaks like hell and it's a very real problem.

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On 7 Feb 2007 06:55:24 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Yes, it is perfectly normal for a condo and is NOT a structural defect.
But, not to worry, it will dissipate with time as the building settles.

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The most common source of this type of noise is well known to be between the subfloor and the joists. It is caused by not using adhesive and sufficient fasteners in trying to cut corners and save a couple bucks, resulting in the subfoor being able to move ever so slightly against the joists when weight is applied. It has nothing to do with settling. So, tell us how this is going to solve itself. Anyone that has actually had this problem knows it doesn't fix itself. And that is precisely what the OP is seeing, because it hasn;t gone away.

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On 7 Feb 2007 10:13:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

It has everything to do with settling. Gravity is pulling some of the structure down more than other parts, thus the change over time.
No, it doesn't fix itself, but as it settles, the repairs last longer and longer because it settles less and less. Also hopefully, the repairman gets better and better at fixing the creak. And I agree with you as to the cause and cutting corners. If you want it done right, do it yourself.

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Explain how gravity is allowing the plywood subfloor to move against the floor joists and only when someone is walking on it. First, you dismiss the guy with flipant BS remarks and tell him to just face the facts and live with it because it's part of a normal house. That leads me to conclude you don't have a clue, because its a real and very annoying problem that should not exist if a home is built right. This is caused primarily by NOT USING CONSTUCTION ADHESIVE AND ENOUGH FASTNERS. And nothing has to settle for it to start squeaking, it can exist in new construction. The house I'm living in is of frame construction, I've been here 10+ years, the house is 22 years old and there is not a single floor squeak because it was built right.
Here's a reference for you that says exactly what I told the OP from the start, while you dismissed it as a non-issue:
http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/inffloor/infsqe.shtm Squeaks are caused by movement in wood seams between sheets of subflooring, friction noise in tongue and groove or shiplap flooring, and fingernails-on-blackboard rubbing against loosened nails. Stop the movement and you stop squeak.
Throughout, you will hear me mention the use of construction adhesive to reinforce and lengthen the life of the repair. Just a it has reduced nail popping in modern drywall installations, construction adhesive also reduces squeaks in subfloors when used during construction. Unfortunately, for what I consider false economy to save a few dollars, many builders don't use this product routinely when installing subflooring.

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On 7 Feb 2007 13:31:07 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

That's right, dumbass. Go back and read it again. The house you are living in now creaked badly the first 5 years, then it creaked less and less. By the time you moved in, it had finished settling and you didn't hear a thing.

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DK, how does this explain my situation? My house is 8 years old and the creaks are getting worse.
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On 8 Feb 2007 03:36:19 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I don't really know as I'm blowing smoke about the settling. But I would guess that you have a subfloor built with really green lumber or else you have a terrible moisture problem. Something is moving and it could be the lumber swelling from moisture and then drying and shrinking. Or it could be temperature changes alone that is doing it. It could be green lumber used for the joists and they are moving back to their original shape and in so doing pulling out the nails and screws.
Nevertheless I can't see how any contractor worth his salt doesn't fix the problem after the 2nd call. Rip the flooring out and use the necessary screws and adhesives and sealants to make the flooring one solid piece that never moves again for the next 100 years.
Creaks should get worse - until they are repaired. The controversy is why the repairs don't hold, not that the creaks are getting worse.
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You hit the nail right on the head (no pun intended!) with your last statement---why aren't the repairs holding. We had the entire second floor screwed down and half of the first floor in May 2005. And then the master bedroom floor screwed down again in May 2006 (by a neighbor). The creaks are only returning in this one spot in the master bedroom. I just cannot figure out why that is happening, unless it has to do with the fact that the bathroom subfloor was not screwed down and the creaks are traveling along the joists. My action plan is to compile a list of contractors, have my husband call them (they will probably listen to him before they do me), and hope some respond and come to see the house.
Thanks to everyone for their replies!.
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I have no problem with going into the crawl space and putting in a lot of screws. Seems like I need 2" screws? How do I know where or how far to screw without it going through the hardwood floors on top? Trial and error (maybe with someone's help)? Maybe start 1" from the floor and go 45' angle? House was built in '57 in southern CA, if anyone is from the area and familiar. Thanks again!
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On 8 Feb 2007 13:11:32 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Can't you screw from the top?
If not and If you don't know the structure, then you can drill one small (1/8th in) hole and measure so you know what length screws to use. Patch that one hole when finished.
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Can't you read? He said he has hardwood floors. And who's the dumbass?

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I see, now you say creaks should get worse until they are fixed. Back a few posts ago you gave him some flipant BS about it being just a normal part of a house, making it sound like he's a whiner and you stated:

So, which is it? Does it get better, or worse? Is it just normal and he should just accept it or does it need to be fixed? And you have the nerve to call me a dumbass? LOL
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I don't mean to hijack this post... sorry... but my wood floors creak too, and I've always thought it was normal. House was built in '57 and has a raised floor. I've been living in it for over 2 years. Can I put screws into the floors myself, or is a pro needed? Or maybe it's too late for my floors? Is there anything I can do? Thanks
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