What Causes Noisy Pipes?

Noisy pipes

If you’ve never experienced noisy pipes you may not understand, but once you have you’ll know what we’re talking about.  It can be anything from a quiet sound that you’re not even sure you heard or it can be loud enough that it wakes you up in the morning.  We recently experienced this in a home where whenever one of the outside spigots was turned on it caused an incredibly loud noise and vibration inside the home.  What could be causing this kind of noise coming from the pipes?  Here are a few of the most common causes:

  1. Loose Pipes – over time the pipes under your house can get loose and the force of water moving rapidly through them can cause the pipe to move and create a rattling sound. This is most commonly associated with drain pipes which are suspended from the ceiling in the basement.  The best way to find the source is to go in the crawl space or basement while someone else flushes a toilet and listen for the source of the sound.  If you find it simply stabilize the pipe and that should take care of it.
  2. Water Hammer – this term commonly referrs to a noise that comes from your pipes when the water traveling through the pipes comes to an abrupt stop, because it’s been turned off, and it has no where to go. In a typical situation the water would travel up a pipe designed for this specific purpose. The air within that pipe would act as a cushion to absorb the force of the water.  Over time though the air within can be lost which then causes the pipes to “hammer” or “rattle”. The best option to deal with this situation is to turn off the water at the main, open all the faucets and then drain the whole house starting from the lowest faucet.  When the water is turned back on air will get pushed back into the spacer pipes and will then be ready to absorb water force.
  3. Worn Washer – if the sound you’re hearing is more of a whistle or squeal it’s possible that the source is a worn out washer in a faucet or valve. If you notice this sound only when one specific faucet or valve is in use, then you know you’ve found your source.  Take a part the faucet and inspect the washer.  If it looks worn, or cracked, you’ll need to replace it.  In most cases a small amount of water is being forced through a crack or small opening which is causing the noisy pipes.
  4. Toilets – If you hear a rattling or banging noise after the toilet is flushed then more than likely the ballcock assembly is shot and will need replaced. The ballcock controls the filling process in your toilet and can get warn over time and will require replacement. Occasionally repair is possible but generally it’ll need to be replaced.
  5. Main Shut Off Valve – if the noise you’re hearing seems to travel through the whole house it may be caused by the water pressure regulator or the main shut off valve. To fix this sound you’ll need to turn the water off all the way at the street level in order to replace the main house valve.  For the majority of homeowners this is not a DIY job, it’s recommended you contact All Star Plumbing and Restoration in this situation.

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