Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Your furniture randomly making noises can be worrying, which is why knowing how to get to the root of the problem and possibly fix it is essential. Regardless of whether you’re worried about the condition of your new couch or are spooked by the random sounds, this article will help you put your mind at ease.
Here are 7 reasons why your furniture randomly makes noises:
- There’s friction between two components.
- The temperature has changed.
- The humidity levels have changed.
- Insects have infiltrated your furniture.
- A component isn’t fastened properly.
- Your house is still settling.
- Your furniture is getting less durable.
In the following sections, I’ll take you through each of the causes that might be causing your furniture to make noises, how to spot them, and how to fix them when possible.
1. There’s Friction Between Two Components
One of the most common reasons why your furniture might start randomly cracking or screeching is that there’s friction between two or more of its components. This is especially true when there are different materials at play that react differently to changing environmental factors.
In this case, the noise produced will be more prominent and easier to spot. With the differences in density and texture, the process is able to produce higher-volume frequencies.
For this reason, usually, the sound that’s coming out of your furniture is caused by two different materials rubbing against each other. Contrary to what you may think, there’s often no need for any external physical pressure for this to happen. The slightest change in temperature or humidity could cause your furniture’s components to change their size and positioning and come in contact with each other.
Additionally, when there’s a wide range of mechanisms and pieces joined together within the same object, there’s bound to be an occasional slip or two that can create the cracking or rubbing sound you’re hearing.
If this is the problem you’re dealing with, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Most of these issues are widely common and don’t require any additional attention as they have a way of sorting themselves out. However, if the noise persists for a long time and the sound you’re hearing seems to be a piece that may have been loosened or repositioned completely, the situation may warrant a closer inspection.
2. The Temperature Has Changed
An extreme and sudden temperature change is usually the most common environmental factor that affects your furniture’s condition and physical attributes.
The changes that come as a result are often small enough for you not to notice them. However, when it comes to such a delicate piece of equipment as your furniture, the slightest material expansion or shrinkage could compromise its structural integrity.
Excessive heat can be especially damaging to wood and other commonly used materials in furniture, which is why you’ll always want to keep your living space cool and dry no matter the season.
When temperatures increase, the materials undergo a process called “thermal expansion.” This can happen due to both natural and artificial heat sources, so you’ll want to be careful when adjusting your temperature control device.
What happens is the volume of your pieces’ material increases along with the temperature, expanding in size and shape. As you can imagine, this process can overexert and put excessive pressure on their structure, compromising their ability to function properly.
For this reason, thermal expansion can often strain your furniture’s components and fasteners, which, in turn, leads to a wide variety of pops, screeches, and other worrying sounds. Although this phenomenon affects almost all types of materials, wood is especially sensitive to it.
Therefore, if you’ve chosen a more rustic aesthetic for your living space, this is the first issue you should look out for upon hearing an unusual sound coming from your furniture.
Keep in mind that thermal expansion doesn’t only affect your furniture but your home’s overall structure as well. Therefore, it’s essential to locate the source of the worrying noise before continuing to conduct the troubleshooting process.
Dealing With Thermal Expansion
Your frames, studs, and even walls can significantly expand under certain environmental conditions, which is why a pop here and a crack there is usually to be expected during hot summer months.
However, this isn’t to say that there’s nothing you should or can do to combat this problem.
If left unattended for too long, this issue could severely damage your property’s structural integrity, which is why a high-quality temperature control device is often necessary when living in warmer climates.
Furthermore, if you notice your furniture is giving out under excessive pressure, a temporary solution would be to sand off some of the excess material. Having said that, this is a process through which you’ll want to be especially careful, as overdoing it could lead to a whole other range of problems from which there might be no turning back.
Multiple Temperature Changes
The effect that thermal expansion has on your furniture doesn’t depend solely on temperature levels but the rate at which they change as well.
While a big temperature jump that happens throughout a more extended period can have little to no effect on your house and its furnishings, smaller changes that occur suddenly can put a lot more pressure on them.
For this reason, if you’ve noticed that your furniture has started creaking after an especially hot day followed by an exceptionally cold night, you can be sure that the cause of this issue is the sudden temperature change.
Luckily, this phenomenon doesn’t happen often, which makes it unlikely for your furniture to suffer any long-lasting damage from it. However, if you live in a location that often experiences this type of climate, investing in a good quality temperature control system could save you a lot of money and effort in the long run.
3. The Humidity Levels Have Changed
Temperature isn’t the only environmental factor that can cause unsettling noises to come out of your furniture. Humidity levels can also affect certain materials significantly, leading to a notable change in size and shape that could compromise the structural integrity of your furniture.
As you can imagine, wood and its varieties are especially susceptible to humidity, as, in high-moisture environments, they tend to swell and deform, which would inevitably apply excessive pressure to the furniture they’re comprising.
This additional strain would, in turn, cause the furniture to creak and pop.
The phenomenon is even more prevalent if you’ve chosen raw-wood-based pieces. For this reason, if you’re not willing to let go of the rustic aesthetic, at least look for a varnished wood variety, which is usually better protected from the elements due to its additional coating.
As I briefly mentioned, excessive humidity levels don’t only cause wood to expand but also to bend and change its shape. For this reason, if you live in a usually high-moisture climate, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier.
Your furniture will otherwise quickly deform and wrap out of shape.
As expected, this kind of change and structural pressure would inevitably cause your furniture to produce a wide range of noises, which is what you may be dealing with right now.
High humidity levels can also cause issues such as rot or mildew to organic materials like wood. These issues significantly impact its longevity and durability, the deterioration of which can independently lead to the creation of certain creaks.
4. Insects Have Infiltrated Your Furniture
Speaking of organic material issues you might want to look out for, insect and pest infiltration is one of them. Sometimes you may hear a certain humming or buzzing sound that you’re positive can’t be produced by an inanimate object, leading you to often get spooked about potentially dealing with some sort of paranormal activity.
The good news is, there should be nothing to be scared about.
However, the bad news is that depending on the insect you’re dealing with, you might have to take some drastic, often expensive measures to get rid of the unwanted noise.
Termites, woodworms, and other larvae are some of the most common offenders you’ll find inside your wooden furniture. Although to some, a 1 mm (0.04”) woodworm hiding inside their chair doesn’t seem like a cause for worry, in reality, insect infiltrations should be taken very seriously and treated accordingly as soon as they’re detected.
Otherwise, the situation can get exponentially worse sooner than you’d think.
Not only do these types of insects and pests reproduce at alarmingly high rates (meaning you’ll be sheltering a whole colony before you know it), but they also can deteriorate your furniture’s durability and longevity much more than you’d think.
Given that they carve their way in and inside of your wood pieces, it’s just a matter of time before they cave enough to create a site of structural weakness that could lead to the whole thing falling apart.
For this reason, as soon as you detect an insect-like noise coming out of your furniture, it’s essential that you start a fumigation process. If you’re confident in your abilities and the tools you have access to, you can give the termination a try yourself by following this handy guide.
Otherwise, don’t hesitate to call in a professional for help.
5. A Component Isn’t Fastened Properly
Furniture that relies on fastened components is often one of the worst offenders when it comes to noise creation.
The reason for this is that any fastening equipment is bound to become loose or undone with frequent use, leading to a constant screeching and creaking sound coming from even the slightest movement.
Luckily, this is one of the easiest issues on this list to solve, as it usually doesn’t require a lot of technical skills or time. All you have to do is inspect the furniture’s fastening points to find the ones that might be causing the unwanted sounds.
Afterward, all that’s left to do is to refasten them and add some form of additional support if possible. This can include any external component that could prevent any loosening or slippage from happening any time soon.
6. Your House Is Still Settling
If none of the previously mentioned issues seem to fit the sound profile you’re looking for, chances are the real issue might be simpler than you’d think. When we notice any possible problem that might be affecting our furniture, we often tend to overthink the troubleshooting process and immediately jump to the worst-case conclusion.
However, there’s a chance that what you’re hearing might simply be what homeowners refer to as “settling noise.” This type of sound comprises soft pops and cracks that are inevitable throughout your living experience in your home.
A house’s structure is heavy, and its sheer mass could put a lot of pressure on its individual components. Additionally, the build’s weight could also cause the ground underneath to compress, leading to some slight shifts and adjustments that you won’t be able to see, but may be able to hear.
Therefore, the source of that weird clicking sound may not even be your furniture, but your house itself settling into its weight. The extent of this phenomenon can widely vary based on a range of environmental factors.
Still, it’s always something you’ll want to consider when inspecting unusual noises in your living space.
7. Your Furniture Is Becoming Less Durable
The reason why your furniture is starting to produce unusual sounds doesn’t have to always be complex or hard to troubleshoot, as sometimes your pieces simply get old. With frequent use, your furniture is bound to lose some of its previous strength and durability, leading to the creation of weak spots that creak and pop when pressure is applied.
There’s a wide variety of factors that can affect your pieces’ longevity other than frequency of use, with quality and material being the most important. These factors will determine whether your furniture can ever return to its previous state, and if so, how much effort you’ll have to put in.
If in doubt, always err on the side of safety and call a local handyman for a professional opinion better tailored to your situation.
- Quora: Why Does Furniture Make a Cracking Noise?
- Furniture Galore: How Does Hot Weather Affect Your Furniture
- Science Direct: Thermal Expansion – An Overview
- Engineering Toolbox: Thermal Expansion – Linear Expansion Coefficients
- SF Gate: How To Fumigate a Couch
- University of Maryland Extension: Identifying Common Household Insect Pests
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