Understanding Plumbing Noises Around the Home

Posted June 17, 2014

A home's plumbing system will make a wide range of noises under normal operation. By understanding which noises are normal and which could be the sign of a bigger problem, you can often prevent expensive plumbing repairs.

Whistling Sounds

Whistling sounds are often caused by a leaking toilet fill valve. You can often temporarily stop the sound by removing the lid of the toilet tank and adjusting the fill valve mechanism until it stops. However, the fill valve should be replaced to eliminate the leak.

Vibrating sounds

This is another sound often caused by a toilet's fill valve. When the gasket inside the top cap of the fill valve is old and worn, it becomes less flexible. When closed, the poor seal can cause vibrations in the wall near the toilet. To check the fill valve, remove the tank lid and activate the fill valve from the arm. If the vibration stops, the fill valve is worn and should be replaced.

Banging Noises

If you hear banging noises when using faucets in the home, it may be caused by improperly secured pipes behind the walls. If the piping is metal, the problem may be caused by expansion and contraction when the pipes run through the joists or studs. Another common cause of banging noises is "water hammer." This occurs when there is high water pressure in your plumbing system. Water flowing in one direction does not want to stop moving. When you turn off a faucet, the water still has considerable force to be absorbed by the pipe. If the pipe is against a stud or joist, it will bang against the wood. Having a water hammer arrestor installed can eliminate the banging noises.

Rumbling Sounds

Rumbling sounds are often heard when a water heater has excessive sediment buildup. When water is trapped in this sediment and starts boiling, the heat is not transferred out of the flue as efficiently, causing turbulence and noise. Carefully draining a few gallons of water from the tank using a hose attached to the drain valve can remove much of the sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank.

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