6 Reasons Why you’re Hearing Clicking in your Walls

Old man hearing clicking in his wall

If you have been hearing clicking sounds from inside your walls, it is probably driving you crazy by now, especially at night. These unexplained sounds can cause great apprehension and make you and the people you care about lose your minds due to paranoia. If ‘haunted house’ was one of the things you feared might be the source of your troubles, you can rest easy. You are not living in a haunted house. However, these clicking sounds have a reason behind them, and this article will look at just that.

A repetitive clicking or ticking sound coming from your walls is often a result of pests, swaying trees, outside animals near your home, plumbing problems, electrical issues, and heating issues. The expansion and contraction of metal HVAC ductwork that conducts ventilation would be another potential cause for these sounds.

That said, of all these factors, the leading cause of clicking sounds inside walls is the presence of pests. Generally speaking, the bigger your pest problems, the louder the noise. There are several signs you need to look out for if you want to know whether or not you have a pest problem. However, when in doubt, the safest route to take is to hire the services of an exterminator. They will do a thorough investigation of your house and try to pinpoint the source of the noise. If they find no pest problem, they can also advise you on your next steps. Here is a closer look at what causes clicking sounds in walls and an in-depth look at each underlying cause and how you can solve them.

1. Pests

mouse in the wall
Mouse in the wall

This is perhaps the most common cause of clicking noises in your walls. Rustling, tapping, or clocking sounds within your walls may indicate the presence of termites or carpenter ants. These may make hollows in the wood in your nests when making nests, especially in areas where the wood may have been damaged by water.

Note that the sounds produced by carpenter ants are how they communicate with each other. Therefore, you need to call the exterminator, who will then use a stethoscope to listen to this sound, locate those pesky pests, and eradicate them.

Other pests like racoons, birds, mice, and squirrels have been known to reside in attics and cause noises. You can be sure this is the problem if you get telltale signs such as excrement or funky smells in your attic. Squirrels are known to be timely creatures, as they keep a tight schedule, meaning their presence is only heard at certain times of the day, mainly as they are coming and going. They are quick, so pay attention to the sound you hear.

It is easy to know if a raccoon is causing you sleepless nights. Raccoons are boisterous creatures that make their presence known. What makes them easy to identify is their slow movements and heavy steps. They are nocturnal, so their sounds can be heard primarily at night. When they enter attics looking for shelter, they tend to create clicking and tapping sounds as they tear at ductwork and dig into the insulation. Professionals should only remove raccoons.

Mice and rats tend to make homes in the attic, and the first signs you should pick are digging and chewing. They can be heard running down the walls, especially at night when it’s quieter or when they leave their shelter to look for food. You can listen to repeated digging and scratching when they are building their nests. These sounds can be either loud or faint, but it depends on the acoustics and architecture of your house. Call the experts and enquire about removal services.

After you are done evicting pests, you have to look for all openings and seal them off to prevent the occurrence of something similar. Do not let the cycle continue. To fill small gaps, use a simple and effective method like expanding spray sealants. If possible, you also need to check hidden areas like under showers and tubs. This is because many builders tend to seal off openings under drain assemblies in an improper manner. However, if you don’t find anything and the noise persists, you could set traps or call the exterminator.

2. Swaying of trees

swaying trees
swaying trees

When the wind blows at night, tree branches may have been rubbing against the roofing or siding all along, causing you unnecessary panic. Proximity is the keyword here: carefully check the building is to trees. It would be best if you pruned the branches near the walls or roofing to allow a space of 8 to 12 feet from external surfaces. This can also help prevent animals from using the branches as a bridge to get to your house. See, you will have killed two birds with one stone.

Another explanation for the clicking sounds is the shedding by oak or nut-bearing trees. At night, a stiff breeze may cause these trees to lose nuts and acorns from twigs, sometimes hitting the house.

The sound can also be caused by the tugging and swaying of wires, cables, and satellite dishes above the ground that attaches to rooflines and siding of homes. You can get rid of these sounds by calling an electrician or cable technician, checking the attachment and penetration points, and making necessary adjustments or repairs.

3. Outside animals

crow on the roof
crow on the roof

At times, the clicking sounds you hear outside can be caused by the wildlife outside, and this is because of the way houses are constructed. This means that even the tiniest sounds can be conducted from external surfaces to inner areas, creating the illusion that the sources of the sounds are close by.

For example, a crow rubbing its beak on the rain gutter makes a sound similar to clicking inside the attic. A squirrel scampering around on the roof could make you believe it was rushing through the attic. Scrutiny of your home’s inner and outer areas will confirm whether there has been wildlife activity.

4. Heating

Heating system
Heating system

Another cause for the repetitive clicking sound in your wall and ceiling could be the expansion and contraction of metal ductwork, whose job is to conduct ventilation through the voids. When metal is heated, it expands, and when the furnace stops pumping hot air through the system, the metal cools down and contracts. A brace could also be at fault if it does not properly secure the heat duct.

You should call a licensed air conditioning and heating contractor to inspect the system and identify the cause of the clicking sound.

5. Plumbing

water heater
water heater

Likewise, a water heater, if any, can make a ticking or clicking sound when warming its contents. Thermal expansion of copper or polyvinyl pipes causes them to pop when hot water passes through them, and the sound may be made again when the pipes contract and return to room temperature.

The clicking sound you have been hearing could have been caused by the pipe rubbing against a joist or stud as it expands or contracts. Then, the sound is conducted along the copper pipes running through the walls. The solution to this problem is replacing the clamps securing the pipe to the framing.

6. Electrical

Electrician working
Electrician working

Audible popping or clicking sounds in the wall near or behind an electrical outlet may point to a problem with the wiring. There could be a loose wire or even a broken connection. Bonus points if the noises are accompanied by the flickering of appliances plugged into wall outlets. For example, something must be amiss if your television or lamp keeps dimming randomly. Other indications could be the inability to turn off devices plugged into the outlet or even getting shocked when inserting a plug into the wall outlet.

You should, therefore, locate and turn off the breaker to the outlet. Call a qualified electrician to inspect it to avoid potential electrical fires in the future.

What do rats in walls sound like?

It may very well be rodents if you’re hearing suspicious noises late at night. You might hear them scratching and gnawing around as they crawl or chew on your walls and wires. A scurrying noise means they’re moving quickly across your attic. Chirps and squeaks are also common in mice, but rats usually communicate at a pitch that humans cannot hear.

What does an animal in the wall sound like?

Wildlife in your home can create a lot of strange noises. You might hear thumping, squeaking, scratching, slithering, or chirping.

Final Thoughts

A common reason for clicking inside the walls is a rodent infestation. There are several signs that you can look out for if you want to know whether or not you have an infestation, such as rodent droppings near food packages, under the sink and in drawers and cupboards, and also nesting materials like shredded paper, dried plant matter, or fabric lying in and around the house.

Sometimes, the clicking might be coming from your vents. If this is the case, the popping and ticking sounds are likely to be caused by the expansion and contraction of duct hangers. You can reduce or stop this noise by using rubber or foam pieces. Place these pieces between the duct and hangers to silence and eliminate the sounds. Alternatively, insulating the ducts can also be a great idea.

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Zoltan Szatmari

Zoltan is a test and industrial engineer from Europe who loves learning anything new and working on small projects. When he is not working, he is usually hiking or going to the cinema.

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