Ever wonder why your house and deck make cracking one popping sounds when temperatures reach dangerous lows?
It's the basic laws of physics, according to Norbert Delatte, civil and environmental engineering department chairman and professor at Cleveland State University.
"Pretty much all building materials – wood, concrete, steel – expand with heat and contract with cold," Delatte said. "The foundation of a house stays at a more normal temperature where the outside of the house is trying to shrink against it, so whatever connections there are between the foundation and home, they would be making some noise."
Sound travels further through the cold, dense air and the lack of activity overnight make the noises sound louder then they would during the day, he said.
The concrete foundation "footers" on houses are constantly shifting depending on the temperature and moisture in the ground. In extreme cases, the ground freezes, cracks and shakes slightly — what's known as a cryoseism, or "frost quake."
Nails can contract and slip in wooden homes, creating a "pinging" sound, wooden floors can also be louder in the cold. When everything contracts, flooring will become a little tighter, and when you walk on it you will really hear those sounds. The wooden deck attached to the back of his home may sound like a firecracker, or gun shot going off from what could be a result of joints and nails shifting as they contrast against one another. In most cases, these noises indicate minor movements that do not typically cause damage, but popping noises can also be serious, and you should closely investigate around all doors and window frames after hearing this noise. Door and window frames are openings that can be a weakness in s structural design if not correctly supported with a header and doubled studs. Also check beams and posts as they bare the heaviest weight of the structure.