Although the plumbing in your home should be out of sight, out of mind, problems both major and minor often lead to banging, humming, rattling, or gurgling pipes.  Beyond noisy water pipes, fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and water heaters can also add unnecessarily to noise and vibration in your home.  So here’s some additions to our list of noisy plumbing and what they’re likely to mean.

The Sound of Water

If you can hear water flowing inside walls or under the floor when no one and no appliance is using water — that’s big leak.  And a big emergency!  Close the main shutoff valve immediately and call us to find the leak and make the repair.  Even then you might need professional water damage restoration services.

If you notice that the sound of your water running to a bath, kitchen, or laundry room is louder than in other homes, that could be due to undersized plumbing or the build up of scale or corrosion inside the pipes.  A re-pipe using PEX can solve both issues, and further deaden various plumbing sounds.

But the solution isn’t necessarily so extreme.  Isolating a short section of pipe from framing or adding insulation as acoustic dampening can often be an inexpensive repair.

Dripping, Ticking

Similarly, a dripping or ticking sound within a wall or ceiling suggests a leak that needs fixing.

Fog Horn?

Vibrations or noises sounding vaguely like a fog horn are typically due to a loose pipe or a water hammer effect.  Both are usually quick and easy fixes.

Noisy Plumbing – Toilet Tricks

The various mechanisms that make up a toilet can also be a source of unwanted sounds.  A tank that keeps refilling in between uses usually means a leaky flap valve.  You might want to replace that yourself to save both money and water.

A whistling sound typically means you need a new ballcock valve or simply an adjustment to the overflow tube.  The ballcock valve can also slowly leak, sometimes with a hissing sound, or cause a bang or rattle when it shuts off.

Squealing, Whistling, and Chirping

Mysterious barnyard sounds may be coming from appliances, or caused by the way appliances interact with the plumbing system.  Most commonly the issue is a washer or some other small component in a dishwasher, washing machine, or faucet.  A noisy faucet is usually caused by worn washer, a loose screw, or a dirty internal aerator.  You may also hear problems from a worn supply valve or defective pressure regulator.

Trapped Air Bubbles

If you hear a sputtering sound, especially when you first open a faucet, that suggests that there is a current or prior leak somewhere in the fixture or the pipes supplying it.

Water Heaters

Ticking or clicking as a hot water heater warms up or cools down is nothing to be concerned about.  But loud pops and thumps indicate major scale and sediment build up.  A drain-and-flush often corrects the problem, and annual maintenance can keep this plumbing problem from happening in the first place.

But if you hear bubbling or gurgling within the tank that’s an emergency.  The water inside has started to boil and the temperature/pressure relief valve has failed.  The tank may soon rupture and release scalding water, or worse yet there could be a steam explosion.  So quickly turn off the gas or electricity and immediately vacate the area.

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