I’m used to the daily groans and creaks my house makes as it settles in for the evening. And the sound of the wind buffeting the windows rarely wakes me up in the middle of the night. But during the cold snap earlier this month, when temps plunged well below zero, I woke up with a start when I heard a loud bang.
Was it an intruder? Did my water pipes freeze? I cautiously crept around my house until I was convinced that there wasn’t a problem. But the next morning I did a little research. Was the weather to blame for my way-too-early wakeup call?
It turns out that the basic laws of physics were conspiring with Old Man Winter to interrupt my beauty sleep. Building materials expand in warm weather and contract in cold weather. And when polar vortex swept the nation, boy, oh boy was it cold. So my house—although it remained the same temperature on the inside—was reacting to the plummeting thermometer on the outside. The banging and popping I heard was nothing more than the stressed building joints reacting to the shift in size and quickly releasing pressure.
I wasn’t the only one who got woken up in the middle of the night. It turns out that police departments in the regions hit hardest by the sudden deep freeze were getting more calls than usual about possible home intruders.
Here’s Ol’ Jer’s best advice: Stay warm, and expect to hear more creaks and pops as the weather warms up and your house expands!