What is that Crazy Plumbing Noise?

Why do my pipes sound so noisey?

Houses make all sorts of noises, especially if they are 20 years or older. After about 20 years, your home’s systems begin to need more repair and replacement. While it is tempting to ignore all of the sounds your house makes, sometimes those weird noises are symptoms of an important repair that needs to be addressed. This is often the case with weird plumbing noises.

You might write off groaning or clanging pipes to the house being old. While you should really consider replacing your plumbing before you have a major problem, most people ignore these noises until the problems are so severe, they can no longer be tolerated. 

Even if you are paying close attention to the sounds that your pipes, drains, and appliances make, it can be difficult to describe those noises to a plumber. This guide should help you describe your problem when you contact us for assistance.

Banging or Hammering

If your pipes give a banging or hammering noise when you turn off your faucet suddenly, it is likely due to what is called a water hammer. When you shut off that valve, it causes sort of a shock wave through the water, causing it to hammer against the valve or pipe walls. Fast-acting valves on appliances like a dishwasher can also cause a water hammer.

There can be a few different causes for water hammer. If you have old worn pipework, it could contribute to the problem. The first thing to check is the condition of your ball, float, and stop valves. If any of your valves are worn, they can cause a water hammer. It is best to have these valves replaced. You can also check the valves on your dishwasher or washing machine if the banging happens while those appliances are running.

Gurgling Pipes

Gurgling pipes are common in newly installed systems, or in water systems that have been flushed and refilled. This gurgling is the air in the pipes moving through the system to escape. It will stop after a short time and as you use your faucets and appliances. If you have gurgling pipes at any other time, it means that you have air leaking into your water system, which can quickly and severely corrode your pipes and valves. This plumbing problem needs to be addressed and repaired quickly.

Vibrating Pipes

Vibrating metal has a very distinct sound. If your pipes are vibrating, it could mean that you have excessive pressure in the water lines. You can purchase a threaded pressure gauge at any hardware store to test the pressure in your water lines. It should not exceed 80-psi. You may need a pressure regulator installed or replaced.

Another potential cause for vibrating pipes is vibration from a well pump or other pump in your water system. The combination of the pump vibration, the pipes within the walls, and how everything works together, the vibrations can be heard very clearly as if through a loudspeaker.

Faucet Drips

Faucet drips are usually not a big deal. When your faucets drip after being completely shut off, it probably means that you need to replace the washer in the faucet handle. If that doesn’t work, your faucet may need to be replaced. Faucets have a lifespan of about 20 years. After that, the seals, washers, and threads start to break down rapidly. If your faucet is 20 years or older, you should probably hire a plumber to replace it. If the washer has been replaced more than once and the drip persists, the faucet is too worn to continue repairing, and should instead be replaced.

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Screeching or Whistling Pipes

The high pitched, loud screeching or whistling of pipes can be very troubling. Most people think the louder their pipes are, the worse the problem would be. But in reality these pipe noises are not necessarily that bad, nor are they expensive to repair.

One potential cause is air in your pipes. Air can be flushed from the pipes by turning the water valve off, running the faucet at full force to empty the pipes completely, then reopen the valve. This may not be something you want to attempt yourself. If you have debris or other matter obstructing your pipes, they will need to be flushed with high pressure water by a plumber.

Shower Rumbling

If your shower rumbles or gives a loud whooshing sound, it could be that there is a buildup of mineral sediment in the water heater, pipes, showerhead, or any combination of the three. This happens when your tap water is considered hard water. It is mostly a problem in urban areas. It is a good idea to get your pipes cleaned by a professional, as well as have them empty and flush your water heater.

Rattling Pipes

Most of the time, rattling pipes is the result of them not being secured within the walls. As the water moves through the pipes the pressure makes them shake. The simple fix is to secure the pipes within the wall, although depending on the location of the pipes could mean a bit of extra repair work to the wall.

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Unlocated Drips or Taps

If you are hearing drips or a tapping noise and all of your faucets are confirmed to have no drip, it is probably an indication of leaking pipes. Try to listen for the sound to pinpoint where in the pipes the leak is likely to be. You can also check your basement, cellar, or crawl space to see if there are any visible pipe leaks. These should be fixed as quickly as possible, as leaky pipes can affect water pressure and sanitation.

Gurgling Drains

Most people think that if their drain gurgles it means that it is clogged. While this is sometimes the case, it can also be a matter of the pipe vent needing to be replaced. The pipe vent allows air to move through the pipes in an appropriate manner for the function of the drain. Air is pushed down the drain, and the pipe vent ensures that there is still air in the drain after it has emptied.

Popping Noise from Utility Area

If you are hearing a popping noise from the area of your water heater after using hot water, it is likely because sediment has built up in the water heater tank. The sediment settles in the bottom and water is trapped beneath it. When the appliance tries to heat the water, the trapped water begins to boil. The bubbles are trying to find somewhere to escape, and they pop with a large amount of force. If you have this problem, you’ll need to have your water heater flushed and cleaned.

Running Water

Are you hearing running water while all of the faucets are turned off? You probably have a bad valve somewhere. This is most often discovered when a toilet will not stop running. A toilet that won’t stop running isn’t just an annoying inconvenience. It is a huge waste of water, and it will make your bills skyrocket. Running toilets should be fixed immediately.

Mysterious Plumbing Sounds

Sometimes plumbing makes a sound that you really can’t explain or identify. There could be a lot of different things causing different sounds. If your plumbing noise doesn’t sound like anything described here, you should try to isolate the sound. Turn on and shut off valves and faucets systematically to isolate the area of the sound. From there you may be able to determine the cause, or you will be able to accurately tell the plumber where to start looking.

Curious About That Plumbing Noise?

As you can see, there are a lot of different sounds that your plumbing can make, and for each sound there may be multiple potential causes. While most of these noises do not lead to overly expensive repairs, it is important to have them repaired quickly.

If you are curious about what your plumbing noise is, record and share it with Kay Plumbing on our social media or by email. We will be happy to listen to your plumbing noise and attempt to determine if we need to come out for a visit.


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