Since the first aqueducts were built more than 2,000 years ago, people have relied on different water supply systems to get potable water to and throughout their homes. But with the introduction of modern plumbing systems, increasing numbers of people have been complaining about different noises coming from pipes.
Besides being annoying, noisy pipes may indicate a series of issues that could escalate into major plumbing problems if left unaddressed. To help you prevent these problems, here are the most common plumbing sounds and their underlying causes.
Banging noises often occur when air gets trapped inside the plumbing system or when faucets or valves are shut off suddenly. When the banging noise comes from the air in the water pipes, it occurs immediately after you turn on a faucet. Besides the noise, the water may sputter as it comes out.
The banging noise caused by the air trapped inside the plumbing system is different from the noise resulting from closing a faucet or valve suddenly. To begin with, the noise starts after you turn off a faucet or appliance. Also referred to as water hammer, this plumbing noise problem is caused by hydraulic shock, which occurs when the water that’s rushing through the pipes hits a faucet or valve that shuts off very quickly. The high pressure resulting from the water flow, which goes from fully on to off in a split second, generates a shockwave, which causes the pipes to bang against each other or against different structural elements located behind your walls.
Rattling noises are often caused by water pipes that vibrate inside walls as a result of high water pressure or system components that have become loose. In both situations, your water pipes will start to vibrate whenever you turn on faucets or water-supplied appliances. Because water pressure that’s too high could damage different appliances, like dishwashers or washing machines, as well as various components within plumbing systems, newly built homes are equipped with water pressure regulators, which are often located where the main water line enters the house. If your home doesn’t have a regulator, a plumbing professional can install one to your existing plumbing system.
If you hear creaking noises when you turn on the hot water, it’s probably because you have copper pipes. Copper pipes expand as hot water travels through them and return to their original size when they begin to cool down. The movement generated by this thermal expansion and contraction could cause your copper pipes to scrape against wall studs, floor joists, support brackets, or other structural elements in your walls, resulting in creaking noises. In general, a creaking noise is an indication that the copper pipes aren’t insulated properly. Sometimes, turning the water heater down a little bit is all that it takes to fix the problem.
Plumbing systems are complex networks of water pipes, vent pipes, and other components that make plumbing fixtures and water-supplied appliances work properly. When one or more components wear out, you may begin to hear whistling noises, particularly when using specific sections of your plumbing system. Mineral deposits that build up inside water supply pipes or an ineffective pressure regulator or water meter may also cause whistling pipe noises. Additionally, it’s important to know that if you hear a ticking sound inside your walls, it could be caused by water leaking from a pipe.
Gurgling noises are specific to drain systems and occur when you have a clogged drain line. In drain systems that aren’t clogged, the water flows through the pipes, pushing the air in front of it and creating a vacuum effect. If your drain line is partially blocked, the water will not travel through your pipes properly in order to create a vacuum. Because the air and water cannot flow freely, the air is forced back through the water, causing gurgling noises.
How to Fix Noises in Pipes
There is a variety of factors that could cause water pipes to make different noises. In some cases, specific noises indicate some serious plumbing problems, which could require expensive repairs, like a complete repipe. Regardless of the underlying causes, the easiest way to fix noisy water pipes is to call in an experienced and certified professional who can inspect your property, make an accurate diagnosis, and come up with strategic plumbing solutions for your home. If you’ve experienced a recurring plumbing noise that you’re concerned about, feel free to contact our team of professionals today!