Whether you own an older home or a newer building, noises associated with plumbing problems can sometimes be an annoyance. Unfamiliar sounds coming from your pipes, faucets or other plumbing fixtures when the water is turned on can sometimes be an indication that there are problems or damages to your pipes or plumbing system. You can narrow down the reason why your pipes make noise when you turn on the water based on the sound itself and the circumstances in which it occurs.
Your water pipes could be making noise due to loose connections or anchors, as well as due to a phenomenon called "water hammer." Most water pipe noises have easy fixes.
Identifying Water Pipe Noises
Some sounds that are heard from inside your pipes are nothing more than natural reactions to heat, elements and atmosphere and are nothing to be alarmed about. Others indicate more serious problems.
The key to troubleshooting for potential plumbing problems with noisy pipes is identifying the type of sound the fixtures are making and exactly what area or particular pipe the sound is coming from. There are four commonly heard sounds that plumbing pipes and fixtures make: squeaking, banging, hammering, and ticking.
Squeaking Sounds in Water Pipes
A squeaking sound coming from your pipes is usually of little concern unless the sound is disturbing the building occupants. Only a hot water pipe is capable of making a squeaking sound, and this is due to the heat of the water causing the pipe to expand as the water passes through it.
According to Trinity Plumbing LLC, expansion of the pipe causes it to rub against the anchoring straps, creating the squeaking sound. The friction is not damaging to the pipes, and repair is only necessary if the sound is an annoyance.
Banging Sounds in Plumbing
If you are hearing a banging sound in your pipes, this is likely due to loose or faulty anchoring. Generally water pipes are anchored every 6 to 8 feet horizontally and 8 to 10 feet vertically. If the pipes are improperly anchored, when the water is turned on the water pressure will cause them to rattle and shake, creating a banging sound as they bang against each other and the pipe anchors.
Hammering Noise in Water Pipes
A loud hammering sound is sometimes heard when the water is abruptly turned off. According to DFT Inc., "water hammer" most often occurs due to the flow of water coming to a sudden halt, which causes the pipes to abruptly shift and make a loud noise. Loose pipes may escalate the hammering sound. Another less common cause for hammering pipes is when the water pressure of the building or home is greater than 80 pounds of pressure per square inch.
Ticking Sound in the Pipes
A faulty water meter can cause a ticking sound that is carried from the meter itself up through your pipes. This problem in no way affects or damages your pipes or plumbing system. Because water meters are, in effect, property of the city or state water departments, there is no home remedy to rectify the problem. For a ticking water meter, you must contact your utility provider for repair and maintenance.
Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.