Should You Worry About Squeaky Floors?

Squeaky floors might seem to be part of the territory when you buy an older home in Philadelphia. In some cases, it’s just a sign of age. In others, it’s a sign that you need to pay some attention to your floors.

Part of the appeal of moving to Philadelphia is living in one of its many historic homes. But living in an older home has its drawbacks, from strict requirements when it comes to renovations (if the house is a historic property) to general wear and tear on the building, such as tired paint, uneven doors, and squeaky floors.

Of course, it’s not just older homes in Philadelphia that can have noisy floors. You’ll find loud floors in new construction, too — especially if the builders did the bare minimum when making the house. For the most part, squeaky floors are just a nuisance problem, but there are cases when they can point to damage beneath the floorboards.

What Causes the Squeak

Your home’s floors can squeak for a variety of reasons. In an older home, changes in humidity levels, such as dry air in the winter and moist air in the summer, cause the wooden floorboards to contract and expand. Those fluctuations can cause the nails holding the boards down to become loose, so that they squeak when people step on the floor. Spaces can also develop between the subfloor and joists over time.

In newer homes, poor construction is likely to be the cause of noisy floors. Although builders can use lower quality materials for the subfloor — such as particleboard, instead of plywood — doing so causes the floor to wear out more quickly. Using a nail gun to attach the subfloor to a joist can also lead to squeaks in a newer home, as the nails aren’t in as securely as screws would be and become loose after a while. Depending on how poorly the floor is put together, you might need to rip it up to correct a case of squeakiness.

What You Can Do About It

How you cope with your home’s squeaky floors depends on how much access you have to the underside of the floors. If your basement doesn’t have finished ceilings, you can usually access the subfloor of the main level of your home from there. One way to correct a squeak is to have a friend walk along the floor upstairs, while you try to find where the squeak is coming from in the basement. If it’s a matter of there being space between the subfloor and a joist, you can try sliding a wooden shim into the space to silence the squeak.

You can also use short screws to reattach the subfloor to the wooden floorboards. Just be very careful if you do that, and don’t use screws that are too long. A very long screw can break through the wooden floor, creating a dangerous situation.

If your floors are carpeted or if you can’t access the underside, your best bet is to fix the squeak from above. There are special screws available that let you drill through carpeted floors to fix squeaks, without having to lift up the carpeting.

Depending on how handy you are or how damaged your floors are, your best bet might be to call in a floor repair specialist in Philly to take a look at the floors and to come up with the best way to stop the squeak. You don’t want to run the risk of damaging your floors with screws or of overlooking a major problem if you’re not 100 percent sure of what you’re doing. It might cost more to work with a professional, but doing so now can save you a lot of money and headache in the future.

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