Mysterious Condo Noises
March 15, 2004 10:11 AM   Subscribe

There's a noise in my wall [mo].

About six months ago, I bought a medium-sized, third-floor condo in a three-floor building. We started hearing a noise in one of the walls. It sounds like some hard object expanding or contracting. It is kind of a simultaneous click and thump. It's not bothering us enough to hire somebody to do something about it, or to consider taking action against the seller, but the curiosity is driving me up a wall (so to speak). There is a built-in gutter inside along the outside wall, but the noise seems to be about two feet in the interior of the building from the outside wall, if you follow me. I assumed that it was ice in the gutter expanding, but now everything's thawed, and the noise is louder if anything.

We were in bed the other night and thought the cat was tearing something up. I get up and go to the front room...it's the wall-noise. It happens at random times of the day, sometimes once a day, other times, over and over again. There was a storm last week and the noise occured many times, which leads me to think that it's related to changes in temperature, which leads me to think that it's something expanding or contracting. We have never even met our seller, so we can't ask him.
posted by goethean to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
 
Any hot water or radiator pipes there? That'd be my guess.
posted by fvw at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2004


Yeah. Of things that would be in your wall, and would expand or contract throughout the year, my guess would either be pipes, or somebody is using your building to smuggle immigrants to Canada.
posted by Hildago at 10:52 AM on March 15, 2004


What are the terms of your Condo Association? Usually you just own everything to where the studs and drywall meet. So this [might] fall squarely in your association's zone. If so, contact the super and ask him/her about it. I would vote for radiator pipes, but they usually are not in an exterior wall. But who knows. BUt there isn't enough info here for me to fully understand. How old is the building? Is it a brick building, or Steel? Is the interior drywall or plaster & lath? How old are the mechanical units? All of this should be in the due diligence file by your attorney and/or real estate agent - and you paid for these. You should have copies at your residence, and the originals in a safety deposit box.
posted by plemeljr at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2004


For a few months, I would hear a strangely rhythmic clicking/scratching/thumping sound inside one of my walls -- actually the slanted ceiling of a finished attic -- especially at night. It wasn't quite random enough to be an animal, and didn't seem to get scared off by loud noise, and it was located in a corner of the building that seems to have sunk ever so slightly some years back, so I assumed it was a physical process of some kind in the roof or walls of the 90+ year old house.

At least, I assumed that until angry green and black bees came swarming out into my bedroom. That sound was a hive being constructed, and up until that moment there was no insect-like buzzing that would ever have made me suspect an insect nest.

While it's not necessarily likely that what you're hearing pests, it's very much worth reassuring yourself that they aren't the source of the problem.
posted by majick at 11:00 AM on March 15, 2004


Our neighbors' furnace pipes go up through the wall at the head of our bed, and at times make any number of interesting noises. While they don't bother us all that much we had the heating company (that my neighbor and I share) take a look at the furnace, and of course they find nothing wrong. My guess is that unless it becomes noticeably worse or constant as opposed to intermittent, you may need to just live with it.

And on preview, I second plemeljr's advice to study your condo docs and see what recourse you may have (we're a 2 unit condo and I pretty much run the association, and being something of a softie I've found it hard to be hard on myself or our neighbors...)
posted by jalexei at 11:02 AM on March 15, 2004


I've been hearing similar noises -- clicks, thumps, whirrs, pops, and creaks -- every night through the winter, from radiator pipes. They've become sort of comforting to me.
posted by brownpau at 11:18 AM on March 15, 2004


No radiators. I should have mentioned that we have an electric furnace and central heating and AC. My last apartment had radiators, so I'm very familiar with them. There shouldn't be any water pipes there.

It's drywall. 1970's brick building. This is in an interior wall, but about three feet away from an exterior wall (where aforementioned gutter is).

angry green and black bees came swarming out into my bedroom

Yikes! Although it just seems too loud and mechanical to be something like that, maybe I will look into this further.

Usually you just own everything to where the studs and drywall meet.

Yes, we are responsible for "from the wallpaper out". So I'll have the mgt company look into it.
posted by goethean at 12:33 PM on March 15, 2004


A friend's condo on the slopes has some sort of electrical regulator ( that keeps people from overloading the circuits on Friday night turning all the heat up at the same time) that makes a loud thumping noise at random times. Consider electrical sources.
posted by m@ at 4:39 PM on March 15, 2004


It doesn't sound like an animal does it? I have had squirrels in my attic and once one made it downstairs inside an interior wall. Mice are usually very quiet, and well there are other critters that might get in...
posted by caddis at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2004


please return and identify the strangesome sound, goethean, if you ever find out. Also, "[mo]"? "More outside"? Funnee!
posted by taz at 5:48 AM on March 16, 2004


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