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Where’s That Weird Plumbing Noise Coming From?

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Plumbing noises are always worth paying attention to because they’re never just noises. Often, an unusual noise coming from your home’s plumbing is your first indication that something’s wrong. You could think of plumbing noises as a kind of early warning system. When you hear a weird plumbing noise, pay attention! You could save your plumbing system–and a fair bit of money, too!

Some “early warning” plumbing noises are especially notable. If you have any of the following four plumbing noises, it always pays to check them out. Here’s how to track down your sound, what’s probably making it, and what you should do about it:

Loud “bang” after turning off the water

This sounds like a loud hammering or banging sound. It happens after you turn off water that was flowing into a sink drain. Your banging sound is actually a specific plumbing phenomenon called “water hammer.” Water hammer happens when water that’s rushing through pipes suddenly stops. The force of the water suddenly stopping creates a shockwave that reverberates through your pipes as the hammering sound. If the pipes rattle and smack against other things during the shockwave, the water hammer sounds even louder.

Water hammer generally starts happening when the devices in the pipes designed to stop it stop working. Most pipes have air chambers built into them. When the water hammer shockwave hits these air chambers, they compress and absorb the force like shock absorbers. Over time, however, the air chambers may fill up with water. When air chambers fill with water, they can’t compress the shockwave, and you end up with water hammer. Draining the water in your pipes’ air chambers should take care of the problem.

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Whistling shower head

This sounds like a high-pitched whistling coming from your shower head whenever you’re taking a shower. It can happen intermittently or constantly while the shower is running. This noise could be happening for a couple reasons. Most likely, something inside the shower head is partially blocking water flow. Minerals and sediment can build up inside shower heads just like any other plumbing component. Shower head clogs are especially likely if you don’t use a water softener. Cleaning the shower head should do the trick.

If your shower head still whistles after you clean it, then there might be a problem with another shower component. Most likely the washer in the shower faucet diverter is worn out or damaged. If you only hear the whistling when you use hot water, then the diverter is probably the problem. Replacing shower diverter washers is a fast and easy job. If the washer isn’t the problem, either, then you should try replacing the shower head entirely.

“Gurgling” in drain

This “gurgling” noise usually happens after you turn off water running in a sink. It could sound like water’s struggling to move through the pipes, or like water is “bubbling” in the drain. The sound could come from the drain itself, or you could hear it further down, near the trap. When a drain gurgles, it’s usually because the pipe vent isn’t working correctly. The sound you’re hearing is air rushing past the water in your sink trap.

When water moves through a pipe it pushes air down the pipe, creating a vacuum behind it. Vents exist to add air back into the pipes after water pushes it down. If vents are blocked, air has to find another way into the pipes–usually through the drain. When air pushes through to fill the vacuum, it distresses the water in the trap. Clearing the drain vent should give air an avenue to enter the pipe and solve your gurgling problem.

plumbing inspection

“Popping” noise in basement or utility closet

This “popping” noise can sound like anything from popcorn cooking to a dull thunking noise. It can be very quiet or surprisingly loud. We’re using basements and utility closets as an example, but it comes from wherever your water heater is installed. It’s tough to notice unless you’re listening for it, but the noise probably usually happens after you use your hot water. The popping noise is the sound of water boiling up from under sediment inside the water heater’s tank.

Sediment tends to build up inside water tank tanks naturally over time–especially if your home has hard water. This sediment settles into the bottom of the water heater tank and traps some water beneath it. When the tank heats water, the water trapped beneath the sediment starts to boil. Bubbles from the boiling water struggle to escape from under the sediment. These bubbles “pop” with great force, creating the sound you’re hearing. Flushing your water heater tank should do the trick. If it doesn’t, you may need to replace the tank entirely.

By identifying and doing something about these plumbing noises early, you can avoid larger plumbing problems. Don’t wait! If you’re hearing something strange in your plumbing, look into it right away. If it’s one of these problems, you’ll probably be able to fix it fast!

If you need help addressing your weird plumbing noise, give The Pink Plumber a call any time. We’re alway happy to help figure things out and fix them. Silent plumbing is just a call away, so call today!

Top 10 Common Plumbing Problems

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Good plumbing is easy to take for granted, but when something goes wrong, you soon know about it. It could be your drains are clogged, the HVAC has stopped working, or your shower is leaking. And when it needs fixing, it usually needs fixing now. Some plumbing problems are more serious than others, but all are worth your immediate attention for your peace of mind and your budget.

Common Plumbing Problems
Consumer Checkbook gives a breakdown on the most common problems you are likely to encounter with home plumbing.

  1. Water hammer: an annoying banging from your pipes, which is caused by the water flow suddenly stopping and the water crashing into a valve. Other causes of noisy pipes are normal water flow, fixings coming loose, and temperature changes. If you’re worried, a plumber can usually locate the cause.
  2. Clogs and blockages: drainpipes must slope slightly to help rainwater flow quickly and wash away debris. If the slope is too flat, clogs can occur. Blocked sinks, basins, showers, tubs, and toilets usually result when inappropriate material is deposited in them.
  3. Leaks: toilet, sink, and other fixture water traps and pipes may leak due to age or because they were not properly tightened.

Hidden Dangers
You may not notice certain dangerous problems with your plumbing. A professional can check your home to find out if it is at risk.

  1. Poor ventilation: water heaters and furnaces must have adequate ventilation to avoid dangerous gases building up in your home. Your family is at risk if a chimney or vent is clogged or doesn’t have a strong draft, and if the room that contains the heater or furnace has little or no ventilation.
  2. No grounding: replacing steel water pipes with plastic ones removes the electrical grounding a home. If there is an electrical fault or your house is hit by lightning, the electricity has nowhere to go, leaving your family in danger of electrocution.
  3. No fire shield: when a water heater flue has no fire-resistant shield, any nearby combustible material can catch fire.
  4. Poor seals: several pipes leave your house through the outer walls, and if the holes aren’t properly sealed, rain and moisture can leak inside and cause damp and mold.

Avoiding Plumbing Issues
Popular Mechanics explains how to avoid or fix simple plumbing errors.

  1. Retained disposal plug: after fitting a garbage disposal, remove the disposal plug if the unit is connected to a dishwasher, or water will leak everywhere.
  2. Construction materials: don’t pour materials left over from your construction project down the sink. The materials can harden and clog the pipes.
  3. Incorrect appliance use: don’t hang heavy racks from your shower fitting or heavily crank faucet handles. Also, don’t turn on a new water heater until it is full.

Plumbing problems are annoying at best, but at worst they can be dangerous. Treat your appliances kindly to get the best use from them and if you are concerned about your plumbing, book a professional inspection.

For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

The Water Hammer Fix: Can You Stop Banging Pipes?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Are you looking for a water hammer fix? Is the noise starting to drive crazy? Water hammer occurs when you turn the water on and your pipes respond with an audible bang – a thundering boom that is sometimes loud enough to rattle your windows and may be followed by other disturbing noises.

Water Hammer and Your Pipes

When you first hear a water hammer, it sounds incredible – like something that shouldn’t be happening inside your home at all. But the cause is surprisingly simple: the “hammer” is made from a combination of blocked pipes and pressure waves.

When you turn on water, especially for high-demand applications like pouring a bath or turning on a shower, your water system sends in a powerful gush of water through your pipes and toward its destination. But along the way, sometimes water encounters a slow valve, a sudden turn or a loose pipe that forces a sudden change or a quick stop. But the water is moving so quickly that this sudden crash creates a powerful pressure wave as the water is suddenly compressed and released. That wave is the explosive sound that travels outward, often making pipes throughout your house rattle.

Water hammer is more common with older pipes, poorly installed pipes and pipes that carry heated water. Think about a water hammer fix that will address these problems for overall healthy plumbing.

Water Hammer Problems

The blast of water hammer does not mean that something is immediately broken – after the pressure wave, water typically continues to travel as normal. But water hammer isn’t something that you want hanging around. The shockwave can knock pipes from their brackets, cause serious valve damage, encourage leaks to develop and more.

Finding a Water Hammer Fix

There are several different solutions to water hammer issues, depending on the source of the problem. One of the easiest is air chamber maintenance – most homes use air chambers that have pockets of air in the pipes to provide some cushioning as water makes tight turns. That air can sometimes leak out over time, creating problems, but you can replace it with new air. This usually requires professional help.

If your problem is a stuck valve, this is a more immediate problem that can be fixed with a simple replacement. Sometimes there is a more far-reaching issue, such as a problem with the pitch of your pipes (the angle at which they decline over a distance), but this is relatively rare.

Water hammer can also be treated with special valves call arresters that help water slow down in better ways. If you cannot solve your water hammer problems any other way, then contact a professional and ask them about installing an arrester or similar device to help prevent future noises.

For answers to your questions or a fix for your water hammer problems, contact the Pink Plumber today!

Image Source: Flickr