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dsg_architect, Architect
Category: Home Improvement
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Experience:  licensed since 1992
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Recently my roof has been creaking, making noise, and we returned

Resolved Question:

Recently my roof has been creaking, making noise, and we returned home to find the mirror black splash in the kitchen cracked. A combo roof flat Redone 2 years ago and pitched with tile, a seam leak r epaired there 1 year ago. The area that the noise is coming from is the ceiling in the hall behind the kitchen (mirror wall) Duplex style housing built 2000.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  dsg_architect replied 6 years ago.
Creaking noise can be caused by ground and house settling. Newer homes will make noise as wood dries out and shrinks, but your home is older. Fill used takes time to settle, so if your lot was built up, or is on a hillside, earth settlement or movement is more likely.

From your roofing repair history, it is more probable you have a roof or plumbing leak. Wood will loose compressive strength when wet. As the wet framing compresses, surrounding framing shifts and makes a creaking noise. Wet wood also attracts termites that will remove framing material causing a slow collapse.

You or someone else will need to inspect the building to find the cause, starting by removing the cracked mirror. A long term leak may show up as water or wood tannin stains on the sheet rock behind the mirror, rusted sheet rock nails or soft spots. Its possible sheet rock damage is only visible behind the wall cabinet, but also closely inspect the finish in the hall walls behind the kitchen. A slow plumbing leak might not register on your water meters, but you could check it for any difference after not using water overnight.

Before pulling cabinets and sheet rock in the kitchen check the roof for open laps, blisters above the kitchen. Check the flashing around vent pipe penetrations. Also look for any damage in other areas of your roof as leaks can travel horizontally. If you have an attic you can get into, look for water staining on the back side of your roof sheathing. If you have a crawlspace check for damage below the kitchen/hall wall. Look for tailings from termites (sawdust piles or strings) , damp wood, or darker tannin stains from moisture seeping through wood framing. If accessible, check the crawlspace ground surface for signs of cracking, erosion or settlement.

If you have visible roof damage above the cracked mirror and cannot see below it from an attic, you could remove some sheet rock from behind the broken mirror/kitchen cabinet to look for rot, mold or other framing damage.

Finding the cause of your damage and creaking noise is a lot like being a detective. You look for clues and follow them until you find more clues or an answer. Something like this needs a physical inspection, and at any time you are stumped, you will need to call in a building inspector.
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