Earlier this week, we tried to help you figure out where that weird plumbing noise in your home is coming from. We covered a lot of the most common sounds and their sources, but the fact of the matter is there are so many plumbing noises to investigate that we couldn’t fit them all in one blog!
If you didn’t see your noise in the first blog, here’s our second shot at it. If you’ve been hearing any of these noises in your home, here’s what they mean and what you can do about them:
If your showerhead makes a weird whistling, hissing, or squeaking noise while you use it, it’s probably become clogged. Sediment and deposits of scale, grease, or other minerals in your water collect in your showerhead over time, just like they do in many other plumbing appliances.
Dealing with the noise should be as easy as removing your showerhead and cleaning it out in a sink or the bathtub itself. Rinse the nozzles, piping, and inside of the showerhead thoroughly and scrub with an ammonia or vinegar solution. For a really deep clean, you could leave the showerhead in your vinegar-ammonia solution overnight. Use an old toothbrush to break up any particularly stubborn buildup. If cleaning the showerhead doesn’t seem to solve the problem, cleaning it too much can wear away the metal, which will create its own problems. If you can’t stop the noise, consider replacing the showerhead entirely.
Popping Water Heater
This is a particularly important sound to catch early. If your water heater pops or kicks as it’s turned on, it could be an indication of sediment buildup. Like with the showerhead, limescale, rust, and other mineral deposits in your water can build up inside your water heater as the water that passes through it leaves deposits behind. When enough sediment builds in the water heater, it will settle along the bottom and sides of the tank. Sediment in the bottom of the tank traps heated water, forcing the tank to work harder. As water squeezes past the buildup, it generates the popping noise you hear. The worse the sediment problem, the louder the pop.
Water heaters must be periodically flushed, drained, and cleaned to avoid sediment buildup. If your water heater starts getting noisy, it’s time to flush it out. Water heaters have a drain valve you can open to drain the bottom of the tank. Be sure to turn off the water to the water heater first, though.
The faucet “thud” occurs when you turn off a sink or shower faucet. As the water stops flowing, you’ll hear a loud noise come from the pipe leading out to the faucet. The pipes around the appliance may also shudder and shake. It’s a common plumbing condition, caused by something called a “water hammer.” When you close the valve letting water out of your faucet, the fast-moving water in your pipes comes to an immediate halt. It slams up against the closed valve, sending a shockwave through the pipes. The thudding sound and shuddering is this shockwave moving up the pipe.
You can fix a water hammer problem by installing air chambers in the problem pipes. Air chambers, also called cushions, compress when hit by the shockwave the water creates, softening the blow to the pipes and preventing the thudding noise. But even if your faucet already has air chambers, they may have become clogged. To clear them out, turn off the water to the problem faucet, then open it up and allow it to drain completely. Once all the water in the faucet’s pipe is released, air can again flow into the chambers.
Snapping, Creaking, or Tapping Pipes
As hot water fills your pipes, the material they’re made of naturally expands. When they cool back down, they contract. The noises you hear your pipes making happen when the expanding and contracting pipes smack into fasteners or other nearby objects like the ceiling, wall, or house framing.
You don’t have to worry about these noises as much as most of the others on this list. If the noise itself is a large-enough nuisance to worry about, however, there are a few things you can do. Isolate where exactly the noisy pipe is and wrap foam pipe insulation around it. Insulated pipes don’t expand or contract as much. The insulation also absorbs most of the vibration that generates the noise when the pipe comes in contact with another surface. You could also reinforce or replace your pipe hangers, ensuring the pipe is securely fastened to an anchor such as a wall or ceiling.
Well? Did we crack the case of the mystery noise? If you’re having any of these problems, or (and we hope not) all of these problems, you can give us a call and we’ll help you fix it up right. If we still haven’t addressed your issue, give our experts one more chance to catch the culprit. We’ve yet to discover a noise we couldn’t crack, so put us on the case today!