Fewer things are more unnerving than hearing bumps, thuds, clanks or scratching noises coming from your loft while you sleep. Most people’s minds turn to a tree falling on the house, an intruder, or a slamming window or door. The reason for these noises is usually something less ominous but it probably needs your attention as soon as possible. Here are some common reasons for these noises and what you can do about them.
Lack of Ventilation and Insulation
Different parts of your roof expand during the day when temperatures are higher and contract when the temperatures are low. Because these materials expand and contract at different rates, you might hear some sounds, especially at night as they contract. Rafters and trusses will make a lot of noise, especially where they come together at a joint.
Vents help regulate temperatures inside your loft, but they can come loose for a variety of reasons. If they do, they are likely to make some noise as they are moved around by the wind.
Apart from getting the vents repaired, you should also add insulation to your loft. Insulation helps keep the roof materials warm at night, slowing down their rate of contraction and thus eliminating the noise they make.
While insulation will not stop trusses and rafters from moving, it will dampen the sound they make as they do so.
Animal or Pest Infestation
Animal and pest infestations are the most common causes of noise in the loft. Lofts create the perfect environment for different pests because they are typically dark, warm and/or wet in cases where something is wrong with the roof. The most common species to reside in your loft either climb or fly into it. Any holes in your roof structure remind them of a nest or burrow where they can live and even breed.
Different animals cause different noises when they infest your loft. To help you identify the animal in your loft, we cover the different types of noise you are likely to hear below.
Soft, Fast Skittering
This type of noise is caused by rodents. These animals do not weigh enough to make thumping noises and are very fast. Both of these combined are what lead to the soft and fast skittering noise you hear if they reside in your loft
Soft Scratching in the Walls
Soft scratching is typically an indication of a bat infestation. Bars are typically very quiet, but they do make these scratching sounds as they crawl around the loft. Since they do not chew wood, you are not likely to hear any grinding noises as you would with other animal species. However, you may hear high-pitched noises as the bats fly around your loft.
Bats are more active during sunup and sundown, and their scratching is typically slower. This is how you can differentiate the scratching noise they make from that made by rodents and other animals. If you suspect you have bats living in your loft, you need to hire a bat surveyor to confirm it.
A bat surveyor will provide details such as the species, location and number of bats if they are present in your loft. The bat surveyors will also identify where the bats are roosting in your loft so you can start putting a plan in place to get rid of them without harming them.
Fast, Rough Scratching
Fast, rough scratching is often an indication of a mouse or rat infestation. You might confuse this with a bat infestation, but bats typically scratch slower and softer than mice and rats. Mice and rats will try to create comfortable spaces to live in and will stop scratching from time to time.
However, sustained scratching is an indicator of squirrels in your loft. Squirrels will carry nuts into your loft to try to bury them inside your insulation. Because they hoard nuts, they keep scratching as they add more nuts to their “safe”. In some cases, they can get through the insulation in the loft, and this leads to noises that can be heard in the rest of the house.
Heavy Repeated Thumping
These types of noises are an indication of a large animal living in the loft, and the typical culprit is a racoon. While female racoons are quiet during the denning process, they become much louder as they try to find food for their young. Male racoons do not stop moving and they are the likeliest culprits of the thumping noise you hear.
What to Do About Animal Noises
If you suspect animals are living in your loft, the first thing to do is get in touch with a professional to do a proper inspection or survey for you. They will check for holes, droppings and other signs of infestation. They will attempt to identify the animal species lying in your loft.
Once they do all this, they will put together a plan to help you get rid of the animals humanely. Sometimes you have to wait for the season to change for the animals to leave, such as in the case of bats, but some animals can be chased away immediately without harming them.
Audio illusions are common in larger houses. The sounds get amplified in a larger loft and the noise’s source does not have to be the loft itself. The noise can come from the rest of the house including the walls.
Audio illusions are very difficult to pin down, and the process of doing so typically involves some trial and error. A lot of people report adding insulation to the loft to dampen the sound and ruling out other causes of noise in the loft does help.
Others propose adding a loft ladder so you can get into the loft as soon as you hear the sounds. This will help you see whether these are actual sounds or sound illusions so you can know the next steps to take.
Noise in the loft can be unnerving, especially in the middle of the night, However, finding the source of this noise is relatively easy. Once you identify the source, get in touch with a professional so they can help you with the next steps.