3 Most Common Reasons for Noisy Water Pipes
What causes noisy water pipes, and when is the noise a problem? Learn the three likeliest causes, solutions, and how an AHS home warranty can save you on repairs.
We’ve all heard strange noises (bumps, creaks, clinks, and clanks) in our house at night. Most of these sounds can be safely ignored. But if you hear banging noises coming from your water pipes, listen up. They could indicate that you have a serious plumbing issue. How so? And what can you do to address those problems? Here are some of the most common causes of — and remedies for — noisy water pipes.
When water is running and is then suddenly turned off, the rushing liquid has no place to go and slams against the shut-off valve. The loud, thudding sound that follows is known as a water hammer. Besides being alarming, water hammer can potentially damage joints and connections in the water pipe itself. There are two primary methods of addressing this issue.
- Check your air chamber. An air chamber is essentially a vertical pipe located near your faucet, often in the wall cavity that holds the plumbing connected to your sink or tub. The chamber is filled with air that compresses and absorbs the shock of the fast moving water when it suddenly stops. Unfortunately, over time air chambers tend to fill with water and lose their effectiveness. To replenish the air chambers in your house you can do the following.
- Turn off the water supply to your house at the main supply (or street level).
- Open your faucets to drain all of the water from your plumbing system.
- Turn the water back on. The incoming water will flush the air out of the pipes but not out of the vertical air chamber, where the air supply has been restored.
- Install water hammer arrestors. These small devices connect to your water pipes and contain a spring-loaded shock absorber. They work by diverting the force of the water when a faucet is shut off. Unlike air chambers, water hammer arrestors never become waterlogged. Skilled DIYers may be able to handle the installation of these components, but most homeowners will need to ask a plumbing contractor for assistance.
Copper pipes tend to expand as hot water passes through and transfers some of its heat to them. (Copper is both malleable and ductile.) In tight quarters, copper hot-water lines can expand and then noisily rub against your home’s hidden structural features — studs, joists, support brackets, etc. — as it contracts.
One possible solution to this problem is to slightly lower the temperature setting on your hot water heater. In all but the most extreme cases, expanding and contracting copper pipes will not spring a leak. Unless you’re remodeling, there’s no reason to remove sheetrock and insert foam padding around your copper pipes.
Water pressure that’s too high
If your water pressure is too high, it can also cause noisy water pipes. Worse, high water pressure can damage water-supplied appliances, such as your washing machine and dishwasher.
Most modern homes are equipped with a pressure regulator that’s mounted where the water supply enters the house. If your home lacks a regulator, consider having one professionally installed. Finally, remember that most plumbers recommend that water is delivered throughout your home at no lower than 40 and no greater than 80 psi (pounds per square inch).
Whatever the state of your plumbing, one thing is certain — you’re eventually going to encounter repair and replacement issues around your home that require professional help.