T&G Ceiling making too much noise. Dont know what to do next...

frank_rizzoSeptember 29, 2010

I'm hoping you guys can help with my buddie's dilemma because I'm out of ideas...

Situation is he did a complete remodel of his 1960's ranch, located in So. Calif. This included about 1000 sq. ft of fir tongue and groove ceiling attached directly to the joists 24" OC. I assume there is a vapor barrier between the boards and the joists and the ceiling was insulated with 8" batts.

The boards are expanding and contracting and making too much noise (part of the area they are in is the master bedroom). I mean a lot of noise. Sometime it's so loud he compares it to firecrackers. No good when you are trying to sleep. It even wakes up the newborn...

It's been going on over 6 mos now. The first two months I thought it would go away when the boards shrink to their final size, but it has not decreased noticeably. We expressed concern to the GC and he came back and installed eve and ridge vents - which seemed like a good idea at the time. Now in addition to the noise there is the added bonus of the smell of tar in the rooms. (It was in the 90's last week) It's a low pitch roof (2-12 or so) with a standing seam metal exterior. The MBR is now unusable because of the noise and the smell that makes the Mrs. nauseous.

The Contractor is out of ideas and so am I. What gives? How come floors dont have this issue? There is a quarter round around the perimeter of the room and it sound like the issue in in the field of the boards, not the edge. One of my finish carpenter friends suggested a gasket material that goes in the groove, but it does not inspire confidence. Should the boards be nailed and glued to the joists?

I could really use some help on this one. Thanks in advance.

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It might be the roof framing that is moving since the paneling would adjust to the room conditions pretty quickly and shouldn't change enough to cause noise (unless it was green lumber which is highly unlikely).

Why would there be any tar in the construction of the roof? Was an old built-up roof covered with metal? Tar is no longer used in construction because it is considered a carcinogen. I don't know how dangerous a tar odor is but I would address the issue ASAP.

I know ceilings in the West are often nailed directly to roof framing but in the East strapping is normally used to avoid the kind of problem it appears you are having.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:25AM
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I've lived in S.Calif. with t&g ceilings and never had the problem you're describing.
It doesn't matter how hot it's been they shouldn't be getting the smell of tar within the house.
And why weren't vents put in the eves to start with?

After living in Calif. for 26 years, remodeling several homes and dealing with some unscrupulous contractors along the way, my advice is for your friend to hire an independent building inspector. They've helped us in the past and made the difference when we once ended up in court.

Mention to your friend that he and his family's health could be at risk so the fee an inspector charges is peanuts.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:17PM
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Thanks so far for the responses. They dont sleep in the bedroom because of the smell and that only aggravates the problem.

I assume that because of the low pitch of the roof in this area that previous roof applications were hot tar. Or that there is 15 or 30# felt under the standing seam roof.

I dont know about hiring a building inspection. Most of the ones I spoke with are not up to speed on this level of detail. I guess they could hire a roofing consultant, but they mostly work on commercial type roofing systems and might not have the know-how on exposed board ceilings.

I was really hoping one of the experts here could give some ideas that we could feed to the contractor....

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 12:12AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Frank,

I am new to this forum and am not very knowledgeable about construction. I would usually be the person asking questions rather than answering them. I just wanted to give you a little nudge toward finding someone who is expert in your friend's area that can determine whether the GC did what he should have done. Something just doesn't seem to be adding up. For a problem to be so bad that your friend can't use the room, something is not right at all. No smells should be coming in the house. From your response to the previous poster, that you were hoping for some tip to feed to the contractor, it sounds like you still trust him.

I hope you get more responses, but from the few you have already gotten, it seems there are three things that the contractor has done that are in question. The noise coming from the ceiling, possible application of tar or some other wrong construction of the roof, and not putting the vents in the first place.

What about a building inspector from the town? Were there permits that had to be pulled for this work? If so, I would think the town inspectors would have to have the level of knowledge you need. Or if you don't want to go that route, what about calling the office of an architect locally to see if they can refer someone to you that would have the level of expertise you need. Maybe a structural engineer might be overkill, I'm not sure. It seems that might be the area to focus on, is trying to pinpoint who really knows his stuff, to come out and look at what's been done and be able to tell you exactly whether something was done wrong and what to do to fix it. More expense I'm sure, but if the GC has no idea what to do and he has no one in his network of friends and fellow contractors, inspectors, etc to go to about this, then I don't see what choice you have. And just the fact that he is stumped might suggest that he doesn't have the breadth and depth of knowledge he should have to do this work.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:46AM
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