What Causes Noisy Pipes and How to Quiet Them

Listen to Your Noisy Pipes
 

What Causes Noisy Pipes and How to Quiet Them

We have all heard noisy pipes, whether they are clanking, clanging and creaking or banging, knocking and whistling. Some plumbing noises are natural and are okay. Some plumbing noises are signs that something is wrong. Learn about some of the more common plumbing sounds. Understand what they mean and whether or not you need to act on them.

Water Hammer or Banging Pipes

When you turn off water in your house, do you hear banging water pipes? It could be the result of a loose pipe that needs to be anchored down.

The banging could also be what is called a water hammer and that is exactly what is happening. Picture water rushing through your pipes. When you turn off the water, it shuts a valve and the water escape route. Like a hammer, this causes that water to slam into the valve. Not only does it create a horrible racket, it can damage joints and pipe connections. One of two things may cause this. The air pressure chamber has water in it or the water pressure is too high.

Air pressure chambers are basically a vertical pipe located near faucets. It is filled with air that compresses and absorbs the shock of quickly flowing water that suddenly stops. Over time these chambers can fill with water. The water needs to be drained, allowing air back into the chamber.

Before checking the air pressure chambers, check the water pressure in your house. Sometimes when water pressure is too high, it causes banging noises in your plumbing. It is worth checking into as too high water pressure can damage appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. Often warranties will not cover damage if water pressure is too high. Check the gauge where the water enters the home. It should register no lower than 40 and no higher than 80 psi (pounds per square inch).

 

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Creaking or Rattling Pipes

Creaking or Rattling Pipes

Heat expands. Cold contracts. In older homes with metal pipes, you hear this happen as the pipes heat with the hot water and cool with the cold water. These noisy pipes are a natural occurrence.

Time and wear play into the sounds. Over time anchors on the pipes loosen. When this happens, expanding and contracting pipes rub against your home. Locate the sound and you have located the loose anchor. Tightening loose mounting straps or U-clamps helps reduce the noise.

 

Knocking Pipes and Rumbling Water Heaters

For those using water heaters, sometimes there is a knocking sound. Make sure to pay attention to this. Causes include the water heater is set too high, piping is too small or is clogged with sediment. Check the water pressure coming into the house. If the water pressure is fine, then check the pipes. They may need to be cleared out or replaced.

Over time sediment builds up in water heaters. The rumbling happens when water and trapped sediment boil together. This indicates that your water heater is not working efficiently. The sound is telling you it is time for a maintenance check.

Warning: When dealing with water heaters, remember the water is HOT. It can burn you, kill grass and cause other damage if not properly handled.

 

Vibrating from Flushing Toilet

When you flush the toilet, you hear a vibrating sound. This happens when the toilet fill valve diaphragm gasket ages. It loses elasticity and becomes hard, causing vibrations which send shock waves back through the pipes. It is time to check the gasket and possibly replace it.

 

Whistling Toilets, Showers and Faucets

When water flows through a restricted section of plumbing, it whistles. Causes include sediment in pipes, a slowly leaking valve or washer.  If whistling happens near only one faucet, then check the fixture’s valves and washers. If it happens when anything is turned on, it could be main water supply valve needs maintenance.

 

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Drainpipe Noises

Ever notice as water drains, a slurping and sucking sound comes from the drainpipe? Either there is not enough air to allow drainage or the pipe is plugged with sediment or drainage debris. Either way, something needs to be cleared out.  It is important to allow drainage to flow out easily. The downside of poor drainage is damaged water seals or a back-up of gases flowing into the house. 

Solutions:

  • Drains have vent holes to allow air flow. Ever notice the hole at the top edge of a sink? That is its vent hole. When vents get blocked, clear them out.
  • Unfortunately, as water drains, it drags down rinsed off debris which gets stuck in pipes. When this is a problem, clear debris from pipes.
  • Over time sediment from hard water adheres to the sides of pipes which restricts drainage. When this happens, clear sediment out of pipes.

 

Listen to Your Noisy Pipes

Noisy pipes are how homes talks to you. Once you understand what they are saying, you know whether or not you need to act on them. Some problems have easy fixes while others require a plumber. Listen to your home and avoid small problems that grow into larger issues.

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