All homes make some kind of noise. Wood creaks, appliances whir, light fixtures hum. Your home shouldn't be perfectly silent, and most small noises are harmless. However, in some cases, home noises can indicate a larger problem or can simply become so disruptive that they have to be stopped. This is often the case with plumbing noises. Very loud, distracting noises from your pipes or water fixtures are not just irritating; they usually require some sort of adjustment to avoid leaks or damage to your pipes and fixtures. Take a look at some of the most common plumbing sounds you may encounter, and learn how to stop them.
Hearing a loud, banging sound that occurs whenever the water is turned on can be alarming. However, chances are good that the problem can be solved easily by securing the pipes more effectively. What happens is that the flowing water causes the pipes to vibrate. While that's not a problem if a pipe is held firmly in place, a loose pipe may vibrate hard enough to hit whatever structure happens to be nearby – usually a wall, a joist, or another pipe – causing a banging sound. A simple fix is to strap them down with plastic clamps.
In some cases, the problem may be caused by high water pressure. High water pressure causes a condition known as water hammer. This will happen when a water valve is shut off suddenly, and the water needs someplace to go. The resulting energy buildup can cause the pipes to flex and hit something, causing the hammering sound. You can solve the problem by installing a device known as a water hammer arrester on the water lines.
Don't let the simple solution fool you into thinking that the problem isn't serious. A pipe that's regularly banging against something is a pipe that's at risk for serious damage. A damaged pipe can potentially cost you hundreds or thousands in repairs. A simple, inexpensive DIY fix like securing the pipes or installing a water hammer arrester can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Whistling or Vibrating Toilet
Do you hear a whistling sound coming from the general direction of your bathroom? How about vibrating when you flush the toilet? If you're hearing these sounds, don't worry – it doesn't mean that the kids flushed something that they shouldn't have. Instead, both sounds probably mean the same thing: your toilet needs a new fill valve. The whistling sound means that the valve has a slow leak, and the vibrating means that the gasket inside the old valve has lost its elasticity and is rattling around causing vibrations while it's trying to shut off.
Replacing a fill valve is easy. Once you shut the water off, drain it, and remove the water supply from the toilet, all that you have to do is pull the old fill valve out, slide a new one into its place, and set the height to the manufacturer's specifications. After that, you can reattach the water supply and turn the water back on. Once again, this is a simple DIY fix that could save you a lot of money – there's nothing like a leaky toilet to run up your water bill.
Rumbling From The Water Heater
When a tank full of hot water starts making rumbling noises, it can sound pretty ominous. If your hot water heater starts to sound like it's hungry, it's probably because sediment has built up on the bottom of the tank and is now boiling. This is not a good sign – it means that your hot water heater isn't working as efficiently as it should.
The simplest way to address this issue is to drain a few gallons of water from the bottom of the tank, hopefully discharging the sediment as well. It's simple enough to drain the tank – just attach a drain hose to the valve at the bottom of the tank. Just be careful where you empty it – the hot water can kill your grass or crack a toilet bowl. A bathtub or a floor drain are the safest places to drain your hot water. If there is a lot of buildup or if this happens frequently, it may be time to consider upgrading your hot water heater – many newer models prevent sediment buildup from occurring at all.
Fixing these annoying plumbing noises yourself can save you money. However, if you don't have the tools, don't feel comfortable performing the fix yourself, or if you try to fix it and it doesn't work, don't hesitate to call in an experienced plumber to do the job. It's better to pay the plumber to repair a small problem than to allow it to grow and have to deal with a plumbing crisis. For more information, see a website such as http://www.thecleanplumbers.com.