When it comes to strange noises in homes, few things can make the types of sounds that your water pipes can make when things are not as they should be, and for young or first-time homeowners, it can be downright freaky when pipes make noise.
What kind of noises could you hear?
- Loud banging
- Humming noise
Let’s look at some of the possible causes of these noisy pipes and see what may need professional help and may be a DIY project you can take on as a homeowner.
Common Causes of Noisy Pipes
Water pressure, typically high water pressure, is often to blame for buzzing sounds, due to the vibration of the pipes as the water flows through. Water pressure regulators are an option to fix this issue, or sometimes called pressure reducers. Many modern homes already have these installed, but they can fail, allowing high water pressure to come back and cause issues.
Loud banging sounds can be caused from water pipes moving due to much water pressure in the plumbing system as the water runs through, causing high pressure/ PSI (pounds per square inch), which can lead to other plumbing problems and issues with your water lines.
Knowing where your shut-off valve for your main water supply is located is important as a homeowner, in case of burst copper pipes, a free flowing leak in your hot water heater, or for troubleshooting your plumbing system and vibrating pipes.
When you have loose pipes, especially loose hot water pipes, you can run into plumbing problems and loud noises. What can happen is the fasteners that hold the pipes to the studs of your home can become loose, and when the hot water from your water heater flow through copper tubing, it will expand and move slightly, then as flow of water from the water heater stops, it cools off, and the copper pipe settles back into place, rubbing against the stud and causes noisy pipes.
This is something that can be a DIY fix, as you tighten down the fasteners to keep things in place, and fix your noisy water pipes and save yourself from future plumbing issues.
Loose Washers / Nuts
Squealing and squeaking can sometimes be caused by loose washers, especially around appliances like hot water heaters, washing machines or dishwashers.
Buildup / Clogs
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.
Air Pressure / Air Chambers
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.
When the Problem is an Air Hammer
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.
When the Issue is a Water Hammer
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 it 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. Water hammer arrestors can be installed to help prevent this from happening in some situations.
When You Have Air and Water in the Pipes
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.