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There are some sounds you expect to hear from your plumbing, but generally pipes are expected to be quiet and functional. The big question is, does noise in your plumbing foretell disaster? Will that banging sound or harsh shriek eventually lead to wet ceilings or a flooded basement? Will a small plumbing repair now prevent cleanup and a big plumbing repair later?
Knowing the Cause Can Help Guide the Plumbing Repair or Noise Reduction
In some cases, noises are the result of poorly installed plumbing and while harmless, would cost a lot to rework. Once we’ve determined the source of those sounds, we can often recommend a strategy for reducing the noise such as reducing the flow through the pipe or helping insulate the wall from the pipes to avoid amplifying the sound. In other cases, we’ll recommend a plumbing repair strategy to avoid stress or damage to your pipes over time.
Plumbing Sound Identification Guide
These are some of the more common sounds and the degree of concern they usually warrant. They aren’t meant to sound like an assortment of Halloween sound effects, but they can come off that way:
A “Bang” Noise When You Shut Off A Faucet
This is likely a “water hammer” that results from fast pressure changes in your pipes. It usually indicates that your faucet needs repacking, or a washer replaced so that it shuts off the water gradually.
A “Bang” When Your Dishwasher or Washing Machine Pauses Between Cycles
This is likely another instance of the “water hammer,” caused by an automatic valve inside the appliance. The appliance may need a repair to resolve the issue, or a device called a “water hammer eliminator” can be installed as a plumbing repair to avoid damaging other equipment connected to the pipe including pumps, and harm to the pipe itself.
Rapid Banging Noises
This can be caused by varying water pressure caused by air moving through your water lines and changing the pressure levels — another form of “water hammer.” Due to the effect on the pipes and attached equipment, your plumber should check this out and recommend a plumbing repair technique to eliminate the air bubbles.
A Hissing Sound When Water Is Flowing in the Pipe
This can be caused by errors in plumbing repair or installation, especially when the home was constructed. When copper pipes are joined, if the small burrs of metal are not removed, water passing through can make a hissing sound. It’s generally just an annoyance and costly to fix, but if you have concerns, we’re always glad to receive your call and answer your questions!
Squealing from Your Pipes, Especially When You Adjust a Faucet or Shower Control
Like the water hammer, this is an indication of issues with the valve and requires maintenance to resolve. The source can be concealed, such as an automatic valve in your appliance or heating system. A quick plumbing repair visit to maintain or replace the noisy valve can eliminate this annoying sound and avoid possible leaks from the valve later.
Creaking Sounds from Your Floor
Hot water pipes from your plumbing or heating systems underneath the floorboards can cause expansion and contraction that results in eerie squeaking and creaking. It’s not a problem in itself, but if it is varying over time and accompanied by banging, it may be useful to check your system for air bubbles or valve issues causing “water hammer.” This is especially true for your heating system, to protect the pumps from damage.
Loud Noises from Pumps
Lubrication may be required, but the pump may also be failing if you hear intermittent squealing sounds from the pump bearings. Repositioning pipes so they don’t conduct the sound and make it louder, or even using plastic piping to reduce the noise can be helpful.
Splashing Sounds That Happen at Certain Times
Water discharge and refill cycles from toilet tanks to washing machine discharge can make splashing sounds that don’t have an obvious origin. If the sounds correspond to one of these operations and you don’t notice any water nearby, it’s probably normal. If the sound comes from inside the wall, call your plumber to check it out.
Gurgling Sounds in Your Plumbing
This is usually the sound of water rushing past an obstacle in the pipes, which could be build-up, or an object flushed or released down a drain. As the water passes the object, the turbulence causes noise in the pipes and, if the pipe is in contact with a wall or other large surface, it can be amplified, and the source location disguised.
Our plumbing repair technicians can use video inspection to locate the cause of the sound and determine any further action needed. Also, when water is forced into a drain due to volume, such as a fish tank being emptied into a sink or an appliance draining wash water, the air bubbles forced down can create a temporary gurgling sound.
Burbling in a P-Trap Underneath a Sink
This is another sound likely caused by an obstruction in your P-trap, which makes a sharp bend underneath your sink to keep gases from rising. If you’re running water constantly from the faucet, you’ll hear the turbulence of the water flowing around the obstruction, either an object which fell down the sink or an accumulation of hair and soap that has created a partial blockage. Our plumbing repair experts can usually extract the obstruction through the bottom of the P-trap.
Bluefrog — We Fix Plumbing That Goes Bump, Squee, Bang, and Tick-Tick in the Night
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain is the one source for all your plumbing repairs. We can help you identify small problems before they become big ones, and our team can take care of all your plumbing updates and installations, too. Give us a call at 1-844-HOP-TO-IT to schedule an appointment, or to make your best version of that noise you’ve been hearing and get our expert advice.