Q. How do you repair squeaking floors? The house is 47 years old and just walking across the floors creates a squeak. But it's only in certain areas, not the whole floor or room. Can we eliminate the squeak without replacing the floors?
A. A squeak in hardwood, carpet or vinyl flooring is usually the result of the subfloor rubbing against a nail used to secure the floor to joists. The joist shrinks as it dries, leaving a small gap between the flat underside of the subfloor and the top of the joist. When someone steps on that area of the floor and compresses the subfloor, it squeaks. Filling the gap with a wood shim is one remedy, or you could use one of several devices available to stop the squeak.
"Squeak-Ender" stops the squeak by inserting a breakaway screw through the hardwood flooring. "Squeeeeek No More" has a clamp system that is secured to the floor joist; it uses a bolt and nut to pull the subfloor tightly to the joist. "Squeak-Relief" is a C-shaped clamp secured to the side of the floor joist and to the underside of the subfloor. All three devices are available at home and hardware stores or can be ordered online.
In any case, you have to identify the source of the squeak. As I have written in the past, someone needs to be in the basement or crawl space while another person walks on the squeaky area. Once identified, the device you choose can be installed using a battery-powered screw gun.
I still like the simple repair of inserting a pair of cedar shims, available at lumber yards and home stores, between the subfloor and the joists. Shims are cheap and easy to use and no hand tools are required. Online sites where repair kits can be found are:
• Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.
Scripps Howard News Service