What Causes Noisy Pipes?

Pipe Noise Problem in Kansas City, KS


Are you hearing strange sounds come from your plumbing, such as hissing, gurgling or burping? If so, you’re probably wondering why this is happening. Unusual, inexplicable gurgling and hissing noises can usually be traced back to a pressure imbalance that is caused by the water that flows through the pipes.

As water flows through the plumbing, it pushes air in front of it, creating a vacuum effect. The plumbing vents, which are located on the roof, are supposed to prevent this from happening. So, if you’re hearing unusual sounds, it means there is a vent issue that needs to be corrected.


Your house has what is called a drain-waste-vent system, a name which indicates that “vents” are an important aspect of your home’s plumbing system. Each house has a vent on the roof, which does more than just dissipate sewer gasses, it equalizes pressure and allows air to escape the plumbing pipes.

Each toilet in a home has a tee that’s connected to the home’s main vent. This way, the pressure can be equalized and the drains “noise-free.”

Whenever you flush a toilet or drain a bathtub, you’re releasing a large amount of water. As the water is released, an airtight seal is created inside the pipes. This causes a pressure difference between the pressure in front of the wastewater and the vacuum created from behind.

If the plumbing vents are not functioning as they should, the air will not travel in the pipes properly to fill the vacuum. When this happens, air can enter into the toilet P-traps, the shower or bathtub. Usually, when you hear a hissing sound, it’s coming from the affected traps, and if you have a strong enough vacuum, it can literally suck the water right out of them.


Your plumbing is not supposed to sound like a coffee maker or make burping or hissing sounds. If your plumbing has become rather noisy recently, it’s time to have a plumber take a look at the vents. Your plumber would have to climb on top of the roof and inspect the vents for debris.

If the gurgling sound is coming from just one fixture in the home, a plumber can clear out the blockage with a handy plumbing snake. Occasionally, the culprit is a poorly-installed vent, and if that’s the case a licensed plumber can give you advice on how to correct the faulty installation.


Let’s say you just moved into a new home and every time you turn on the kitchen sink faucet, you hear this ominous “hammering” noise in the pipes. Now, you’re worried that one day you’ll turn on your kitchen faucet to rinse off a few dishes and all of a sudden your pipes will burst. What gives?

If your pipes are making a mysterious “hammering” sound, there’s a good chance that there is air trapped inside the household plumbing, especially if you live in an older home. One of the most common causes of noisy plumbing is trapped air. For example, trapped air can cause strange vibrating noises or a worrisome jack-hammer sound – one that often leads to a phone call to the plumber!

You see, air can get trapped inside the circuit, especially higher pipes, and when this happens, it can lead to loud, vibrating sounds or repeat jack-hammer sounds, which can be difficult to eliminate unless you’re willing to drain the system and reconnect the water supply with open faucets.


If the problem is an air hammer, then the banging will occur whenever a faucet or valve is opened suddenly. In that case, the noise is caused by trapped air in the pipes; this is caused by an “air hammer.” In this case, there can be an air pocket that is highly compressed due to water pressure.

When someone suddenly opens the faucet, it releases pressure, causing a banging sound against the closed faucet or appliance valve.


If the issue isn’t trapped air, the noisy plumbing could be caused by a water hammer. If you quickly close a faucet and there is a loud banging noise that’s followed by a series of diminishing banging noises, you probably have a water hammer.

Basically, when you shut off the faucet, it causes a small vacuum downstream, which pulls the water back and releases back against the valve. Water hammers only occur when valves are closed suddenly. If you don’t hear the noise when you close the valve slowly, what you have is a water hammer, not an air hammer.


Sometimes both air and water are in the pipes, causing them to vibrate and rattle. You will especially see this in older homes. Also, when pipes expand and contract because of the pipes heating up or cooling down, it can lead to strange noises. We found that this usually occurs when household plumbing pipes are not properly secured to ceilings and walls.

Do you have a problem with loud, noisy, or banging pipes? If so, you should get down to the bottom of the problem – contact our Kansas City plumbers to schedule a service call!

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