Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sounds Of Shifting

Have you ever heard your house creak and groan for no apparent reason? No, it’s not ghosts. It’s just that most houses are built largely of wood, and wood is sometimes called a “living thing,” even after it’s cut, dried and fastened in place. The reason is that wood changes size as the humidity and temperature changes. When things are fastened together, yet are changing size, something is bound to give a little, and when they do, we hear those creaks and groans. Wind can also move things around a little, too.

I remember coming home from work at four in the morning once and hearing someone walk the entire length of my upstairs. It sounded so convincing that I investigated with a shotgun. What caused it, though, was that my woodstove was running low and a cold front had just blown in and my house was shrinking. (Or maybe it was shivering!)

Another example was this morning, when I took the trash out to the road. I laid the two black bags near the back of the truck, so I could raise the tonneau and drop the tailgate. The bright sunshine caused immediate warming inside the bags and several plastic bottles popped and crackled as the air in them expanded.

There is another example of shifting things making noises that is a little more disconcerting to me. Almost every night, my entrance into bed begins a long, drawn out adjustment in my body. A day of compaction by gravity on my vertical frame is slowly released and my joints loosen up and expand lineally. Hip joints, shoulders, elbows, and seemingly every vertebra from backside to skull pops, clicks or clunks as it slides into new-found freedom.

The shifts are not only heard but felt, though it’s not what I’d call painful. This would be bad enough if it happened all at once, but it doesn’t. No, each joint moves only in its own good time. As a result, every few seconds for several minutes, I feel something move and hear it click or clunk into its new position. Sometimes, it actually interferes with me going to sleep for a while. I could be wrong, but I think it’s gotten worse now that I can’t afford the expensive supplements for my joints and since I’m on water pills.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. As with my aging house, I guess it’s a sign that I’m still standing, figuratively at least. © 2016


Harry Flashman said...

My house is log and it's 30 years old. It groans sometimes at night.

Ralph Goff said...

Living in Sask. in winter in an old wooden house can be interesting as the temp drops way down and the nails start to pull as the wood shrinks(or expands?) It literally sounds like somebody is shooting bullets at the house. You get used to it. Also vinyl siding is bad for noises on a summer day when the clouds are moving across the sun. As the light, and heat, changes it flexes . Not a loud noise but just something you notice.

Gorges Smythe said...

Mine is 35 now, Harry, and is built from lumber sawed on our mill. It creaks quite a bit. The lumber wasn't kiln dried, so that may be a factor; I don't know.

I can only imagine, Ralph. I never thought, but I bet vinyl IS bad about it.

deborah harvey said...

what supplements were you taking for joints?
just curious.
i started taking MSM but turned out i needed surgery.

Gorges Smythe said...

I don't remember now, dh, but Walmart had them for about $30 a month. If they were out, I used the store brand at $20, but I'm sure it was as good; I think it was a different formula.

Sixbears said...

I'm surprised my house doesn't creak more than it does. Huge temperature swings, plus the place was built in different stages. Of course, there was the time I though the house was creaking but it was a bear trying to get into my basement. Rather have ghosts.

Every morning I get up and wonder what's going to creak and hurt. This morning I felt pretty good . . . and didn't trust the feeling.

Chickenmom said...

After all the joints finally crack I can fall asleep!

Lady Locust said...

I love it when old houses creek. It's like they are telling part of their story. Joints and bones on the other hand. . . :)

Pumice said...

If I could just convince my wife about this I would get a lot more sleep.

Grace and peace

Euripides said...

I can handle the snaps and pops. It's the groans and moans that disturb my wife.

Gorges Smythe said...

lol - I'm always a bit suspicious when I feel too good, also, Sixbears!

Generally me too, Cm, unless I roll over and they all decide to re-adjust!

I reckon they're both a bit of history, LL.

Good luck, Pumice.

With me, E, it's the snoring. That's why I sleep upstairs, and she sleeps downstairs at the other end of the house.