Most Common Causes of Noisy Water Pipes

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When you’re at home, you expect the pipes in your plumbing system to bring hot and cold water to all parts of your house at your beck and call. Whether you’re baking in the kitchen, relaxing in a hot bath, doing laundry in the washing machine, or simply need to flush the toilet, water supply and delivery is pivotal to daily life.

Unfortunately, these pipes aren’t perfect, and you may notice that some of them start to make noises over time. These seemingly random plumbing sounds might even scare you a little (you’re not alone!).

To make matters worse, loud noises coming from your piping can actually be an indicator of a bad plumbing problem or series of plumbing problems in your pipes. If left untreated, these clogging and drainage issues can become disastrous over time.

To get to the root of these noisy water pipes, let’s take a look at the common causes. While many causes exist, there are a few that crop up again and again in noisy pipes and plumbing systems that are worth being aware of.

So, without further ado, follow along below to find out once and for all what’s making that awful noise in your water pipes and what you can do right now to fix it.

What Causes Loud Banging Noises in Water Pipes?

The first and perhaps most common complaint from homeowners about their pipes comes in the form of “loud banging” or “banging noises”. If you hear banging coming from the pipes in your home, you might have an issue with water flow or high water pressure, which can often be fixed with a pressure reducer or pressure regulator (most modern homes already have these); professionals refer to this as a “water hammer”.

A water hammer happens whenever your faucet or valve is promptly closed off. All that water that had been moving down to the exit point contains a lot of energy and momentum, so when it hits the closed-off valve point, it makes an incredibly loud banging sound.

All that being said, water hammers can and do occur at times in the form of much smaller bangs in your plumbing pipes with shutoff valves, so it’s important to have a professional plumber take a look to determine exactly where it’s coming from.

Many times, a plumber will simply install a water hammer arrestor (with a spring-loaded shock absorber) in the appropriate pipe position. These redirect the “hammer” of the water after a faucet gets shut off.

Another solution for hammering noises is to shut off a house’s entire water supply by closing off the primary shut-off valve before draining everything out of the system. If this happens, make sure to remember your lowest faucet(s) afterward, often located in the basement or on an exterior hose line (since they aren’t used as frequently, these can be easily forgotten).

A different source of banging noises is trapped oxygen in the air chamber. Air can actually get stopped up in pipes as a result of water line problems. If the banging in your pipes happens because of trapped air, then these sounds usually start immediately as a faucet is turned on, though you might hear a bubbling noise, too, as the air moves up and out.

Why Are My Water Pipes Shaking and Rattling?

While most piping lives behind the walls, floors, or ceilings of your home, some have to be hung with fasteners. If one of these slips, gets loose, or comes off completely, then the pipe can start moving or swaying as water runs through it.

Copper pipes in particular often expand as warm water travels across their metal surface, especially if the temperature on the hot water heater is too high.

Copper pipes carrying hot water can enlarge, but when they ultimately reduce in size again, this makes them scrape against a house’s joists, studs, or support brackets in the walls, resulting in loud noises.

If this happens, you’ll probably hear something that sounds like shaking or rattling going on in your walls. This is just the result of a slightly loose pipe, so it can be fixed rather easily, but it should be attended to quickly so the problem doesn’t get worse.

When you hear shaking and rattling in the ceiling or under the floorboards, don’t hesitate to call a trusted plumbing professional to take care of that noise before it gets unbearable.

Why Does My Plumbing Make a Humming Noise?

If the water pressure in your home gets too high for your house’s plumbing system capacity, your pipes can literally start to vibrate, much like a car traveling very fast down an open highway. If the water is running, you might start to hear a hum coming from your pipes.

While this might happen in a home of any type or size, if your home draws on well water, you’re at a higher risk for vibrating pipes. If this happens, do a quick check on your water tank, as you’ll usually want it set at no more than 55 PSI (pound-force per square inch).

In the event that you don’t have direct access to reading a water pressure meter on your tank, call a professional plumber to come and take a look. They can alter the system appropriately to get rid of that pesky hum.

Where Does That High-Pitched Whining Noise Come From?

Every house has a complete piping system of valves and other elements that depends on lots of tiny pieces and parts to enable the whole thing to work as it’s supposed to. Like any other piece of hardware, washers, nuts, and bolts (and much else) can become loose or wear out over time, resulting in a high-pitched whining noise.

This whistling sort of sound is most typically the simple product of a worn down piece of hardware near a dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer.

These specific areas are more susceptible to loose washers or other hardware because those appliances cause a significant amount of movement and can ultimately wear down nuts and bolts in that particular part of the piping.

If this happens to occur in your home, just have a plumber come in to tighten or replace the necessary hardware, and that should fix it up in no time.

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Why Do Drains Make Gurgling or “Glugging” Sounds?

Sometimes, plumbing systems begin to run into problems when attempting to drain out excess water or waste. When this happens, you might hear something that sounds like a giant that lives in your walls chugging an enormous bottle of Coca-Cola: glug-glug-glug-glug-glug.

This gurgling or glugging noise can be an indication of clogged passage in the piping itself. This could be an actual piece of plastic or other object that’s fallen down the drain or something as simple as soap or dirt buildup in the pipes.

Plumbers have the ability to quickly and easily clean out debris or nasty scum buildup, which in turn gets that giant to stop making glugging noises all the time.

How to Fix Loud Noises in Water Pipes

There are lots of causes for noisy water pipes, but the above list covers most of the common culprits. If you experience any of these sounds in your home, the best way to fix the issue quickly and painlessly is to get in touch with a trusted plumber or plumbing company.

At Kay Plumbing, we have years of experience helping families and homeowners get back to life after a difficult or pesky plumbing problem. If you live in Richland or Lexington County, look no further for a local plumbing team to get your pipes back on track.

If you need your drains cleaned or unclogged, we can have a trained, licensed, and insured plumber at your door, often in just a few hours.

Get in touch with us today so that you can stop living with unnecessary nuisance noises coming at all hours of the day and night. Let the good people at Kay Plumbing get you back to life as usual.


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