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Question DetailsAsked on 10/2/2016

Dealing with LOUD Squeaking floors in Condo above. (Repairing from Below Required.) Ex: www.tinyurl.com/condonoise

I live in a condo below a unit which has extremely loud squeaking and creaking floors. (The flooring in the living room is so loud it wakes me in the bedroom at night.) The Association has stated that they cannot assist and the unit owner will not assist from above.

I have attempted the following: Sound proofing company shimmed, installed Roksul Safe and Sound insulation, and installed a floating ceiling. The sound is better, but is still an issue. (See links here: www.tinyurl.com/condonoise ) The Sound proofing company stated that there are likely multiple layers of subflooring which need to be screwed to the joists from above or below.

Because neither the unit owner or the association is willing to help, I need to find a way/contractor who can assist from below.

I'm at my wits end. Any help or direction would be appreciated.

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4 Answers

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Hi,

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Answered 2 years ago by Member Services

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Here are a number of links to similar previous questions with answers which might help -


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Personally, depending on what the soundproofing contractor's promises were, I would be telling them they did not do the job right. For this sort of job, solving the movement making the noise would be first priority - and it should have been PROVEN to work before putting in any insulation or acoustic ceiling because of general walking noise (as opposed to flooring slap) coming through.


My second approach would be to check condo association bylaws about neighbor noise - because even if caused by their flooring, it is noise they are making so you have recourse against them, - if not through the condo association (though an attorney working for you might force their hand and make them take action), then by suing them for disturbing your peace and quiet (which is obviously the more expensive route). Or move.


If their floors are carpeted, and assuming traditional wood subflooring, not tough to screw down through the carpet and into the joists to pull down the loose flooring - being careful about going into wires, subfloor radiant heating, etc. If hard surface or sheet flooring, then short of tearing that up it can be fixed from below, screwing into the various subfloor levels. Would take a bit of investigation to find out what is there - perhaps normal sheathing plus a levelling underlayment of 1/4 plywood or such, or perhaps it is a loose-lay laminate or snap hardwood or bondless tile flooring without padding that is "thumping" on the subflooring. If a thinner layer than 3/4" over the original sheathing, I guess only solution from below (and potential issues with staining coming through into the flooring above, and odor issues while curing) would be to drill through the original layer and inject a glue between the two layers and weighting the flooring down heavily while it cures. Not something I would count on working, not knowing the cleanliness condition between the two layers - a thin layer of drywall dust or such over the original sheathing before the overlahy was put down would kill the bonding. Also risks of putting bumps or waves in the overlying flooring - I certainly would not consider this appraoch myself unless I had a full liability waiver from the owner.


Solving this from below is going to be tough if a thin levelling underlayment over the sheathing - and if an unpadded hard surface flooring would have to be taken up (if doable) or replaced and padding put down before reflooring, because a thin sheathing overlay basically cannot be screwed into effectively from below - you have to come down from above becvause there is not enough wood thickness to "bite" into to hold it down with screws.


One thing that I would NOT get involved in is trying to solve the problem from THEIR unit with your contractor - that is a liability nightmare.


Before you can solve this, it is going to take some knowledge of what types of flooring there are in different areas above - and possibly some very careful investigation maybe in the back of closets and under cabinet bases upstairs, and/or core samples from below through the base sheathing to see what is above - a VERY tricky operation. hence my recommnedation to address this from a neighbor nuisance standpoint and make THEM solve the problem to a reasonable point - polus that way the existing insulation, you put in does not have tyo come out either. Might end up being an insurance liability claim for the neighbors to solve the problem.


(one other alternative, assuming newly moved in - if able to prove previous owners or their agent or sale listing agent knew about the sound problem and failed to disclose it if required by law, you might have recourse against them under the sale contract as well.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Thank you LCD.

That's a comprehensive answer. I was looking into the lawsuit route, as the Association has been completely against assisting, and the owner had been very resistant to all issues, including paying/using their insurance to repair damages from their leaky bathroom. (Per Association By-Laws.) Sadly, though my attorney thinks we have a solid case, the cost will still be anywhere from 10-20K, assuming the Association and Owner fight it, which we both feel is likely given the past response.

The flooring does have a levelling compund, likely 1" atop the subfloor. The soundproofing company said there would be an 80% reduction in noise, which is likely CLOSE, but there are a few spots in the living room where the creaking is just unbearable.


Given your feedback, I need to consider all options.

Thank you very much!

Answered 2 years ago by GMLarson

0
Votes

Assuming - that there is levelling compound on the floor above so fastening down through it is iffy even if the owner upostairs did cooperate, that the subfloor is indeterminate thickness and not readily determined, and that the upstairs owner is uncooperative. Repair or moving is probably a lot cheaper than suing (in which course you would be likely to have probably no better than 25% chance of getting your legal costs reimbursed even if you DID win, plus any judgement against the condo association would be partly assessed against your condo share almost certainly.


So - most economic route (assuming you are not ready to move on to another place - like maybe a house where you don't have to deal with immediately adjacent neighbors and condo association boards ?) is solving the squeek from below. Also consider the overall neighbor situation - is this a place you like, would you just as soon get out (condo association may waive some fees for early departure in your case just to get rid of the issue), or is the upstairs neighbor noisy in other ways that this will not fix - be sure you are putting money into something that will actually cure all the problem, and not so much that it would be cheaper to move or put that money to a more desireable fix like upgrading to a house. This is also an important consideration if you are likely to move anyway (change of jobs/relocation) in a few years, because the money you put into this will probably not be recouped come sale time even if totally successful in stopping the noise.


I would use stethoscope over a period of days when noise is occurring to pin down source locations, then if necessary open up the sound insulation a few places where the noise is worst to actually see the movement as it is being made, trying to pin down whether the noise is due to movement of the floor joists at the perimeter walls or at a central beam (at the ends of the joists, like in joist hangers) or squeeking of the subfloor sheathing as it moves up and down on its nails, or squeeking of the subfloor sheathing against the joists as they flex (surface to surface wood squeek) - or maybe movement of pipes against joists ?


Then determining the thickness of the sheathing would be mandatory if screws rather than glue are considered for tying it down - but risky, because of the lack of cooperation, because you would be drilling into the neighbor's floor. In fact, doing anything to their floor might technically be trespass - depending on where the condo bylaws define the "property line".


Also, if they may have several thicknesses of sheathing or sheet underlayment, just tying the bottom one down would be useless if the noise is from the upper one(s) moving against the lower, or squeeking on nails if they used them instead of the screws they should have. If multiple layers of subflooring upstairs is possible, you really can't go ahead unless you can definitively determine the thickness and number of layers, and would (if multiple layers) have to pull them down tight with screws - whjich again means mucking around with the neighbor's floor, which could cause trouble - now or when it comes time for him to redo his flooring and they try to pull those sheets up.


The problem is that wood-to-wood squeeking due to joist flexing could be mitigated with silicone lubricant sprayed in heavily at the interface plus fastening them together as you would for up and down movement on the sheathing nails - using cleats usually, fastened to the underside of the sheathing with screws (if you knew exact sheathing thickness and number of layers) or alternatively with epoxy glue (contractor's construction adhesive is NOT adequate for this - you need a lifetime bond) and then the cleat fastened sideways into the joist to tie the sheathing to the joist. Commonly, with gluing as opposed to screws into the sheathing, would be done with 2x4's close-space 16d nailed or preferably structural screwed and glued to each other to form an L (vertical leg full height against the joist face, side leg which will glue to the sheathing teeing into the top of the vertical leg to prevent nail pullout), and the vertical leg fastened into the joist with nails or preferably screws - and commonly construction adhesive there as well. Structural Engineer can give you required spacing for the fasteners - probably #8 or #10 screws about 4 inches long to make the tee, and 2-3/4 to 3 inches long to tie the tee cleat to the joist, and likely about 3-4 inches on center all along the tee joint and similar double-row spaced along the joist through the tee. Sometimes these cleats are done as an intermittent support but best to be continuous under the subflooring, full-length of the joists so teh sheathing is tied down everywhere along the joists length. Which means tearing the ceiling drywall totally off to do it.


Joist end movement squeek is much rarer but is also MUCH tougher to cure - generally requires beefing up the joists so they are structurally stiffer (usually by sistering another one next to it), or putting in new joists between the existing ones, and sometimes new brackets tying the joist to the plate or sill. Commonly occurs when a contractor or architect cheats on joist depth or assumes a standard depth will work without checking the span tables, or when lower grade wood is used than was assumed in the design (especially common in long spans where architect or structural engineer may assume #1 or Select timber but contractors buys normal #2 and Better joists, or a cheaper grade like Southern Pine rather than Douglas Fir or Pacific Spruce or Hem/Fir).


Bottom line - I would definitely (if you decide to go ahead) talk to a structural engineer (your Search the List category) for help in tying down the source of the noise (though touch because depends on listening for the sources when neighbor is moving around). It may be you will have to get a court order providing your contractor access to the unit above to allow you to determine floor thickness from above, and to walk around to determine the sources in a reasonable and time-efficient manner.


One other possibility - if this is a condo development that is owned/sold by a developer or single landlord rather than just individuals (so the developer/landlord has vacant units that it holds title to at times) - arrange a move and title swap into another unit (after making sure it does not have same issue, or move to top floor) to avoid most of the closing costs involved in a sale and buying another unit. However, since you have a condo association sounds like that is not likely the case because you would have been talking about a property manager in that case.


Good Luck



Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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