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New home noises - need some advice?

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I received a call from a homes owner who is experiencing popping noises fourteen months after moving into a new home. The home is part of a tract development by Del Webb. The homes are one story, wood exterior, metal stud interior walls, slab on grade with tile roofs. The property has been confirmed to be appropriately compacted and on certified fill. The soil is sand with no clays present.
The owners are former contractors and understand normal settlement sounds of a new home, but this, they claim, exceeds what was typical for a new home. There is a hollow soft sound that they thought was coming from ducting or near light switches. I asked about electrical problems, thinking a short may be arcing to the metal studs and this may account for the popping noise (but would normally produces some smell as well). There does not seem to be a problem in this regard.
I keep going back to the metal stud interior partitions as the possible cause. Assuming settlement of the roof trusses which would place some load on the interior non-bearing metal stud partitions, I have a feeling that some of the softer sounds are the studs stressing and the pops may be some of the screws backing off or popping against the gauge thickness of the studs.
I am in need of some confirmation from others who have design conventional homes with metal stud interior walls. Does this sound like a possible cause and effect? I believe that the walls act similar to a speaker diaphragm. When the screw pops, the sound is radiated through the gypsum wall panel like a speaker cone. I don't know what physical examination I can perform to locate the cause of the problem other than to confirm that differential settlement is not the issue. There is no damage - just some loss of sleep by the homeowner.
Any advice from those of you with metal stud experience would be greatly appreciated.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
The Structuralist Administrator for:
AEC-Residential Listservice
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