Squeaky floors not a straightforward fix

Squeaky floors not a straightforward fix

"The floors in my 29-year-old house have areas that squeak and there seem to be more every day. Most of the flooring is carpeted. What can be done to correct this problem?"Angie's List member Mary Jane Pfuetze

"If the house is 29 years old, there's definitely a subfloor in it," says South Lynn, president of highly rated Universal Floors Inc. in Washington, explaining that nails connecting the subfloor to the joists become loose over time. "It's a common problem in older homes. In newer homes, they tend to glue the joists."

If there's a basement, Lynn says he would drive coarsely threaded drywall screws through the basement's ceiling into the subfloor and floor while one of his employees zeroed in on the squeak's location from above.

If there's no basement, a finishing screw with a fine thread and a small head might work if driven directly through the carpeting, he says.

Other options might include hammering a shim into gaps between the subfloor and joists, sprinkling graphite powder in between the boards or raising the humidity in your home to 40 to 50 percent, he says.

But there's no guarantee. "Squeaks can be a very difficult thing to fix," Lynn says, adding that sometimes it comes down to one tiny nail not hammered all the way into the joists.

Lynn says this type of repair would cost about $100, but Universal rarely does it. "I hate to charge people money for anything that I'm not sure is going to work," he says. "I'll give them advice or I'll do it in conjunction with other projects. We're not the squeak specialists."