Noisy Water Pipes

noisy water pipes

If you’ve ever been woken up in the middle of the night by the rattling sound of the pipework, you’re certainly not alone. This unpleasant occurrence is way more common than you’d think.

However, the strange noises made by vibrating pipes signify that something might be wrong with your plumbing system. As it’s responsible for bringing hot and cold water to all parts of your house at every beck and call, it would be perfect if it worked without all these loud sounds.

Noisy pipes are a problem that should never be ignored, not only because hearing constant humming and banging is annoying, but it also might be pointing towards more significant plumbing issues that need quick fixing.

Follow along below if you’re trying to figure out what some of the common pipe noises sounds might be trying to tell you and what you can do right now to fix it.

Loose Fittings

During the installation of the water pipes, a plumber secures them to wall studs or other parts of the building’s frame with straps or brackets. Then, every time you flush a toilet, take a shower or run your washing machine, a large amount of water rush through the installation, producing vibrations.

These add up over time and can loosen the previously secured points, giving your pipes some room to wiggle. It’s a perfectly normal process that occurs due to regular exploitation, especially if you live in an older building rather than a modern house. There’s no need to worry, though, as loose piping that produces clunking, rattling, or vibrating sounds can be easily fixed.

If the pipes at your house are exposed, and you can reach them, you could attempt to re-establish appropriate fitting. Try to tighten the bolts or locate worn-out fixtures and replace them. If you’re unable to reach the pipes or the issue is too significant to be solved by new fixtures, you might need to have them re-routed. This should only be done by experienced professionals, so don’t hesitate to call plumbing services.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes were the plumbing pipes of choice from the 1950s until 2000 and were widely used in new construction and old house renovations.

Copper, which is durable and malleable, is among the most popular pipe materials. However, it is also known to expand and contract with temperature, resulting in loud ticking noise. The sound occurs when hot water runs through cold pipes, causing the copper to expand and rub against surrounding wood or metal.

So if you hear loud noises but only when you use hot water, don’t get too worried because it isn’t a sign of plumbing problems in the vast majority of cases. Copper pipes are designed to handle this amount of stress and high pressure. The only thing you could need is a little bit of noise management.

To reduce the noise, try insulating any accessible pipe with foam rubber, which will help avoid friction. You can also lower the temperature of your hot water. If some of your pipes happen to be hard to reach, call for help – it’s better to leave insulating inaccessible areas for professionals.

Worn Out Washers

Tap washers are small disks fitted to the inside of a tap. Their task is to relieve friction and spread the load as all washers do, but in plumbing, they also create a valve seal when the tap is turned off, ensuring tightness and preventing leakage. When a tap gets worn out in a faucet or valve, it causes whistling and squeaking in the water pipes.

If you notice these noises, you should shut off the valve immediately and look inside the hose that connects it to the pipe to check the washers. If they look worn out or are cracked, they need to be replaced.

Now suppose you did this, and the problem isn’t fixed because you can still hear noises. In this case, try shutting off the water supply in the entire house and take a close look at the faucet. One of the tap’s washers or the valve seat is likely worn, which forces water through a smaller opening and results in noisy pipes.

Fortunately, a worn-out washer is an easy and relatively inexpensive fix.

Water Hammers

Water hammer is a type of conspicuous thumping sound from the water lines. Every time you turn on the tap, water rushes through pipes and comes out with a lot of force and speed.  Shutting down the same tap makes the water suddenly stop, but the energy still has to go somewhere.

Behind both the hot and cold water taps, there is usually an air chamber. Air chambers are installed near fixtures to prevent the rushing water from slamming into valves when taps are turned off. However, over time, water hammering can develop. It causes not only strange, thudding noise but can also result in damage.  Water hammer can literally blow your pipe apart, but an air chamber installed in your piping system can save you from the troubles.

You can fix the water hammering problem by replenishing your air chambers. To do this, try shutting off the main water supply. Then, drain the entire house. As a result, when you later fill up water, the air will again be pushed into the vertical pipe behind every tap – a riser designed to prevent the hammering.

Your air chambers will be replenished with the necessary air to absorb the sudden shocks and bursts of energy, and the thudding sound should also get eliminated in the whole process.

Additionally, you could consider investing in some water hammer arrestors for your pipes.  A water hammer arrestor is a small device that you can connect to your water pipe – in some way, it’s an air chamber. It includes a spring-loaded shock absorber, which works by diverting the force of the water when the water is turned off.

As mentioned above, when a valve closes quickly and stops the flow, the produced energy shakes and pounds the pipe. A water hammer arrestor fixes this condition with a cushion of air that absorbs the momentum.

If you take the steps described above and the problem still isn’t solved, you should call for professional help.

Faulty Main Shut Off Valve

The main shut-off valve or the main water pressure regulator might be another source of the dreaded squeaking noise or squealing sound coming from your pipes. If that’s the case, you might also hear the strange, resonating sounds in the whole house.

Fixing this problem is a little bit complicated because while it doesn’t require you to drain the pipes, you’ll have to turn off the water mains in your street, which might cause some protests from the neighbours. However, if you politely explain your situation in advance and ask for permission, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

After turning off the main water line, you can then replace or repair the main house valve. This action will usually require a professional’s help, as a faulty shut-off valve is one of the more complicated issues.

Ballcock Assembly

Another common issue, causing noisy water pipes and loud banging sounds, is a worn-out ballcock assembly. It is a mechanism for filling water tanks, such as those found in flush toilets, which helps avoid overflow or backflow.  If you flush your toilet and hear loud banging noises or rattling at the end of the filling cycle, this is likely your problem.

Whether you’ll be able to repair it depends on the style and how old the ballcock assembly is. Sometimes trying to fix it might not be worth the effort. In most cases, it’s just easier and cheaper to replace the whole thing, as the cost of the parts needed might add up, and the entire process requires multiple steps that should be done by a professional plumber.

Water Pressure

Another issue that the not-so-fortunate owners of noisy water pipes face is high water pressure.  When the water flow caused by increased pressure is too intense, it rushes through the pipework with plenty of force,  crashing around and resulting in noisy pipes.

Water pressure should be between 1 to 1.5 bar. A higher number can lead to overworking your pipes and damaging them. 

Take a look at your water heater – it should have a pressure regulator (also known as pressure reducer) and metre already installed, so if you happen to hear loud humming noise whenever you turn on your water, you can adjust the regulator, but make sure to keep your boiler manual on hand.

Don’t eyeball anything when it comes to your water pressure regulator.

However, if you don’t have a metre or a pressure regulator, you will have to call a plumber to check it for you.  Our team at B. Wilson Plumbing offers a wide range of plumbing services, including boiler installation, repair, cover, and many more, leaving plenty of satisfied customers.

In Conclusion

A water hammer, loose mounting straps, or high water pressure can cause water pipes to rattle, squeak, and clatter. There are many causes for noisy water pipes, but the above list covers most of the common ones.

If you happen to experience them at your home, and you’re not quite sure how to fix them or just don’t feel like dealing with these issues, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber. Here at B. Wilson Plumbing, we value your comfort and are always ready to assist you!

You too can enjoy living without the noisy water pipes!

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