Plumbing Tips: Troubleshooting Your Pipe Noises

Pipe noise can be annoying, especially when you hear them in the quiet of the night. Find out how you can troubleshoot and fix those noises.

You probably don't think about it, but your house has foot after foot of piping in it. And, these pipes serve a variety of uses. Most commonly, pipes bring water to, or take drain water from your house. Pipes in your house also deliver hot air from your furnace, bring in gas, or release hot, moist air from your clothes dryer.

Though they are a much - needed necessity, pipes can also make noises that range from ticking to loud, annoying, knocking sounds. If this describes your house, then you need to troubleshoot the problem so you can take steps to remedy it.

If your plumbing often creates a banging noise when you turn on the water, then this is probably because they are loose and are not securely attached. The first thing to do in this case is to track down the exact area where the pipes are banging. You will need an assistant to help you do this. Have your assistant turn the water on and off at the faucet that causes this noise to happen the most. As he or she is doing this, you should listen and go to the place in your house where the noise is the loudest. Check the basement or crawl space first as this area normally carries a majority of your home's pipes. Once you are able to pinpoint the exact pipe that is causing the banging noise, check it to see if it is loose. If it is, you will need to install one or more straps along the pipe. Follow the manufacturer's directions in order to achieve the best results, but straps are normally installed every six to eight feet if they running horizontally. If the plumbing is running vertically, then straps are normally installed every eight to ten feet. Your pipes are probably already strapped down. And, they might already have the recommended number of straps on them. But, if they are making noises, then additional straps need to be installed to hold them securely in place.

After you install additional pipe straps, have your assistant turn the water on and off again in order to make sure the banging problem is resolved.

Plumbing that makes a squeaking noise is easy to troubleshoot because only a hot water pipe will make this noise. This is because a hot water pipe expands slightly as the water runs through it. It then returns to its normal diameter when the water stops. When the hot water pipe expands, it moves, and that can cause a squeaking noise as it rubs against its straps.

To remedy this problem, have your assistant turn the hot water while you track down the exact area where the hot water pipes are squeaking. After you have located the area, have your assistant turn the water off. Next, measure, cut, and fit pieces of thin rubber, or other suitable material, in between the pipes and the straps. Be sure that you allow the hot water pipes to move, just not rub against the straps.

Another common noise you can have in your plumbing is called "water hammering". You can hear this loud, "air horn - type" of noise when you quickly turn off a water faucet in your house. The water that is running through the pipes comes to an abrupt stop, and as it does, the built up pressure causes the noise. Because of the great amount of pressure involved, water hammering in your pipes can ultimately cause damage to the pipes in your house. It can also cause pipe joints to loosen and that will result in water leaks.

To remedy this problem, if you have city water, you will need to contact your local water department. If, on the other hand, you have your own well water, then you have your own water tank too. Locate and check the pressure gauge on the tank. If it's set at sixty pounds per square inch or higher, then it's probably too high, and the pressure valve needs to reset so the water pressure in your house is lowered.

A ticking noise can also occur if the water meter on your house, which is usually provided by the city, is making that type of sound. The ticking can be transmitted through the plumbing or through the water as it enters your house. There's not much you can do to remedy this problem yourself. You will need to contact your local water department for assistance.

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