I have a 2-story colonial house (with a basement) in Michigan. I have forced-air heating. The house was built in 2001. On the upper floor, my daughter noticed that a clicking sound (similar to an old light-switch) started which sounds like it's coming from within the wall. The wall is between two bedrooms. It is made of drywall. The heating register for her bedroom is on that wall, but is about 5-6 feet away from where the clicking sound seems to be coming. We timed the clicks. They are occurring every 23 seconds, like clockwork. Lastly, they seem to be coming from the upper area of the wall. I have not yet looked into the rafters of the house. I will do that as soon as I can. I can barely hear the click when I stand in the living room below the bedrooms. It's definitely emanating from the upper floor area.

Any ideas as to what could be causing this? I'm the original owner of the house and this is a new thing.

UPDATE: As I was looking for appropriate tags for this question, the clicking started coming pretty fast for about a minute or so. Now it's back down to a regular interval of about 10-15 seconds. Also, I looked in the rafters and was not able to see much beyond a lot of blown-in insulation.

  • 1
    Do you have snow melting on your roof? Just wondering if the sound might be water dripping.
    – mbeckish
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 17:04
  • Yeah, I do. I thought about that. I did not see any dripping when I looked in the rafters. But that is still one of my top concerns. (The first is the possibility of some kind of short in an electrical wire. I don't think there is a wire in that area based on the room layout, but you never know.
    – DeadZone
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 17:55
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    It's likely either 1) creaking from movement in the home due to solar gain or loss, or 2) creaking from a plumbing vent pipe, also from heat expansion or contraction. Try to correlate the sound with plumbing activity or daily solar cycles.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 17:56
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    Is it just when the heat is on? (Or otherwise correlated with the heat cycling.)
    – George
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 19:33
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    Rodent or insect? Does the noise stop for a while if you hit the wall with your palm (intent being noise, not wall or hand damage) near where it seems to be coming from? If you shut down everything that would mind being shut off first, it should be easy to confirm/deny electrical by turning off the main breaker while the noise is happening, and if it stops while the main is off and starts when the main is on, you can consider it likely electrical and well worth finding the specific breaker it's on (and leaving that off) & opening the wall up to fix before something worse happens.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:52

4 Answers 4


Typically a main stack vent that is rubbing against a structural stud, sill plate, or drywall. I have fixed this ticking/clicking noise in two houses by cutting out the offending piece of 3/4" drywall and replacing with 1/2" on top of furring strips to give the pipe some room to expand.


Consistent timing (23 seconds) seems to rule out expansion / contraction issues in my opinion. The fact that it briefly changed the time interval makes me think it's some sort of thermostat device, maybe snow melting tape? Where you hear it in the wall / floor can be misleading, because sound transmission can do funny things inside of wall spaces, especially those with insulation. A vibration taking place in a device somewhere else can get amplified as a sound in another area simply because it is the only place where that vibration is not being absorbed.

I would start with the electrical system check as described earlier, but I would go the other way. While the sound is happening, turn off breakers one at a time and see if stops. If it does, that's the circuit. Then you just have to determine what that circuit is feeding. If you turn off the main and it goes away, but it is tied to a thermostatic type of device, turning everything off may delay how long it takes to start clicking again.


If your house is behind a smart electric meter, you may be hearing FSK -- frequency shift keying -- data packets superimposed on the 60HZ AC power. The data rate is low, usually 2400 baud, but that would account for timed pulses which sound like someone gently tapping.

The FSK may or may not be audio frequency. Electrical outlet boxes and light switch boxes can ask as resonance chambers, so you might hear the packets -- if you get the noise at more than out outlet, it's likely FSK you're hearing.

I tried looking for a low-pass filter or something that would filter those out at the electric panel and I did not fund anything.


does this sound only happen in the winter? i have the same type of sounds in my basement. It is probably expansion and contraction of your ducts. google "oil canning duct"

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