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What causes that persistent noise in the pipes and how to fix It

bathroom faucet

What is that persistent noise coming from your pipes trying to tell you? What is the cause? This article will help you identify the cause and a remedy to fix it.

Your house is talking to you. And no, this is not a metaphor: your home, when it has a problem, really speaks to you. Have you heard that persistent noise in the pipes that greets you when you open or close a faucet or when you are peacefully watching TV? According to a survey conducted by Pipe Lagging UK, pipe noise is a nuisance experienced by approximately 40 percent of homeowners.

Although in principle, a noise in the pipes is not as alarming as other dangerous sounds your house could make, such as the hissing of gas, it should be enough to get your attention. Do not merely resign yourself to living in the company of this persistent sound. Discover the causes of the pipe noise, and you will be able to shut it down and prevent further damage by interpreting the following red flags listed below.

Pipe noise when the faucet is closed

If when you close any of the faucets in your house, you hear a rattling inside the pipes, or a sound similar to that of falling marbles, chances are it’s because of the phenomenon known to tradesmen as “water hammer.”

The abrupt interruption of the flow of water in installations where there is excess pressure or where the pipes are very narrow causes liquid particles to crash into the pipework walls and generate this unique noise.

Solutions to control water hammer

Slowly close the faucets or replace them with newer types with progressive closure.

Regulate the water pressure at the outlet of the faucets.

Adjust the water pressure at the entrance of the installation. Reinforce the clamping of pipes that pass through false ceilings.

Whistling as water runs through the pipes

The noise of pipes when air builds up inside is reminiscent of a hiss and is quite common when pipes have remained disused for weeks or months.

Solutions to extract air from pipes

It is usually enough to let the water run for half a minute or so but, if this is not enough, try closing the water at the mains supply, then opening all the faucets. With all faucets open, restore the mains supply, and allow the accumulated water to come out through the pipes. Then cut them again and reopen them. Wait until you hear the water moving without a hiss.

Rattling pipes

When the plumbing installation is old, the most typical pipe noise is rattling due to the ducts vibrating when water passes through them.

Solutions to prevent pipe rattling

Check the clamps and anchors that ensure the pipes’ stability and tighten them if they are loose.

Place small pads or rubber between the pipes and clamps and any walls in contact with them so that friction between the elements does not cause noise.

Squeaking when opening the hot water tap

When opening the hot water tap, the squeaking of the pipes has an obvious culprit: the expansion of the pipes on contact with a liquid at high temperature, which causes them to rub against anchors and clamps.

Solutions to stop the squeak

The solution for squeaking pipes is the same as when the pipes rattle: check the clamps’ condition, adjust, or replace them, and place a buffer object if necessary.

Adjusting high water pressure

Another cause of noisy pipes is very high-water pressure. You can correct water pressure with a regulator or pressure-reducing valve. Most modern homes in the U.S have a regulator installed where the mains water enters the house.

If your property is older and does not have a water regulator, consider having one fitted. A professionally connected pressure regulator can cost a few hundred dollars, but it is a sound investment in the long term. (You should not try to install a pressure regulator yourself unless you have advanced plumbing skills.)

High water pressure is needlessly wasteful, and it can damage appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and other water-supplied appliances. Many appliance warranties are voided if a home’s water pressure surpasses 100 pounds per square inch.

Testing water pressure is essential, notwithstanding whether you have a water pressure regulator. You can test the pressure with a water pressure gauge that screws on to a hose bib; in most neighborhoods, the water department will conduct the test for free. Water pressure should be between 30 and 55 psi. If you find the pressure is too high and you have a regulator, you can use a wrench to modify it until the pressure is lower than 50 psi.