Knocking and tapping sounds
Most likely cause – water pressure is too high
Nick says: “Knocking and tapping of pipes can happen anywhere in the home. The reason it’s probably more pronounced in bedrooms is because people are more aware of sounds when they’re trying to sleep and other sources of noise such as traffic and TV aren’t drowning them out. Pay attention to when you hear the knocking and tapping. If it happens as water is running, or just after the taps have been shut off, it could be linked to water pressure. When the pressure is too high, the water can move the pipes, causing them to knock against their fixings or each other. Always consult a plumber who specialises in heating and hot water when faced with pipe problems.”
Most likely cause – timber joints retracting in cold weather
Nick says: “As the temperature drops around the UK, the timber within the structures of our homes begin to contract. This is entirely normal. You’re most likely to hear these sounds at night when the general hum of the home quietens down.”
Most likely cause – poor wiring or loose connections
Nick says: “Kitchens can suffer from electrical problems because that’s where there are lots of appliances that use a lot of electricity, such as kettles, microwaves, electric ovens/hobs/grills and toasters. If they’re all on at once a circuit could get overloaded and trip. The only advice I’ll give here is to call in a qualified electrician. If your light switches or plugs ever behave in any way they shouldn’t, for example sparking sockets or flickering lights, it’s a job for a professional. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a big problem, but I’d recommend that only qualified tradespeople should be working on electrics.”
Most likely cause – poor insulation, draughts or radiators that need bleeding
Nick says: “If the problem affects an entire room, check that the radiators are working properly. Feel the top and bottom for comparison. If the top is colder than the bottom, the radiator could need bleeding. This is quite an easy job to do yourself. You can get a radiator key from most DIY shops for about £1. And there are plenty of videos online to show you how. As long as you follow the steps carefully and make sure you’ve got something to capture any drips from the valve, it should be fairly straightforward. It’s not normally necessary to call a plumber.
“Draughts are a common problem for cold spots. Fitting draught excluders around windows and doors will help. Draughts will also come up through gaps in floorboards which should be sealed. Inefficient double glazing or single glazing will make rooms feel cold too. Bathrooms suffer from cold because people step out of a hot bath or shower and are instantly more aware of draughts, possibly from ventilation that’s in place to help reduce condensation and prevent damp conditions for mould to grow. Draught excluders can be fitted to ventilation ducts. Don’t be tempted to block ventilation and prevent air exchange.”
Most likely causes – damp, drainage problems, furniture and fabrics, leaks or pests
Nick says: “Most smells can be explained. If you’re noticing a new or unusual smell, it can be unsettling. If you detect the smell of fish, it could actually be your electrics. Electrical shielding, when exposed to high heats, can give off an odd ‘fishy smell’. In fact, ‘why do my electrics smell of fish is one of the most Googled’ questions people make about their homes, along with ‘is my roof leaking?’
“Drainage issues can cause some pretty nasty odours too. Blocked sinks and blocked soil pipes in particular can lead to some pretty strong, bad smells.
“If you’re detecting the whiff of ammonia, it could be a sign of vermin. And if you’re noticing a smell similar to rotting cabbage, that could be a pest that’s died under floorboards, inside a wall or behind the skirting board. If you suspect that mice are getting into your home, in search of warmer conditions, I’d recommend calling a professional pest controller. They’ll assess the extent of the problem, recommend a suitable treatment, and provide proofing measure to stop pests from returning again.”