You turn on the bathroom sink and hear a whistling noise. Or you flush the toilet and hear clanging noises in the wall that dissipate after a minute or so. Do those random noises mean your pipes are trying to tell you something?
Probably, but that “something” can vary widely. Some things may sound terrible and not be that bad, while a more subtle noise that you can barely hear could mean your pipes need extensive work. It’s a good idea to know a few common problems you’ll find with noisy pipes. It’s always better to call in a pro if you’re uncertain about your plumbing expertise. If you’re in California, you can try hiring Alpine Plumbing and Rooter La Verne.
Water hammers are named because they sound like, well, a hammer. They can be quite startling if you’re just sitting in your armchair reading a book and suddenly hear a loud banging or knocking noise in the walls. To understand how water hammers work, think of a quick momentum change. If you’re jogging along your residential street and suddenly see your ex-boyfriend two houses down, you’ll probably come to an abrupt stop, then make a quick change in direction. When water has to stop or change directions, it can also be very sudden. Your pipes should have something installed to soften the damage and the noise, but that doesn’t mean those mechanisms will always work properly.
If your air chamber is clogged, the fix could be pretty simple. You’ll need to shut off the water supply to the problematic pipes, then open up the faucet and let it drain. The air chamber can’t drain properly if it’s overloaded with water.
If that doesn’t fix it, it may be time to bring in a plumbing expert. It’s always better to call in a pro if you’re uncertain about your plumbing expertise. Water hammers aren’t something you can just ignore, unfortunately, since that pressure could eventually cause the pipes to burst. You may need a water hammer arrestor or similar device installed to prevent that.
Who wants to be whistled at while they’re using the bathroom? Let’s hope no one, but your toilet can emit a high-pitched sound like resembles whistling if there’s an issue with the fill valve. You can find the fill valve by removing the lid that sits atop your toilet tank. While you may be able to get away with replacing the gasket on the valve, you’re probably better off just replacing the valve entirely, as the whistling indicates it is not long for this world. Bad valves can increase your water usage, so don’t delay if you determine that the valve needs to be replaced.
Replacing the water valve is a fairly easy and cheap job to do on your own, but if you’re unsure, feel free to call a friend or family member with more plumbing expertise. They can either walk you through it or come and do it themselves. There’s also nothing wrong with seeking advice from a professional plumber, either. They’re used to getting questions about every plumbing issue under the sun (or roof, in this case).
If your pipes start squeaking when you turn on your shower, it could be time to clean the showerhead. Mineral deposits can build up and keep the water from getting it. Hence, squeaking.
Banging noises can also be attributed to water pressure that’s too high. If you don’t have a gauge to measure it yourself, the municipal water department should be happy to do it for you at no charge.
Noises in the pipes can seem scary and even violent. With some detective work, you should be able to find a solution and get back to having uninterrupted quiet time in the evenings.