If water sputters out and you hear noises in the pipes when you turn on the taps of your kitchen, you may have air in the lines. This can occur if you've had the water supply shut off to install or repair plumbing or if you have a problem with your water pressure. It's also a common problem after the water lines or fire hydrants on your street have been serviced or repaired. Listening to the noise coming from your pipes can give you plenty of information about what might be wrong and what to do next.
Air in Water Lines
Air in the lines gives off a vibrating or prolonged noise, accompanied by water coming out of the faucet in spurts. To rid air from your lines to your kitchen sink, allow water to flow to push out the air pockets.
If you've been working on your sink, you may only need to open the tap all the way to push out the air. However, if the noise comes after you've worked on plumbing in other areas of the house, you'll need to flush all the lines.
To do this, the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority recommends opening all the water taps in your home about 1/8 of the way, including sinks, bathtubs, showers, and even the outside faucets. Flush your toilets once or twice and run anything attached to a water supply line, such as a refrigerator water dispenser, until you no longer hear the air noise.
Water Hammer Noise in Pipes
If you hear a series of bangs or a single thump when you shut off a valve or when a washer switches cycles, the problem is water hammer. Water hammer refers to the noise produced when water bangs against itself as the water changes speed as it travels along the pipe. You'll often hear the noise when you shut off a valve, the dishwasher or washing machine cycle changes or if you shut off a tap quickly. Because water hammer can damage your pipes, this problem should be looked at by a plumber.
Tapping and Drumming
If the water flows well, but produces a continuous tapping sound, your water meter may be too small. Check with your water provider for options to replace your water meter. Rapid noises that sound like drums can stem from a broken valve. Broken valves are a serious issue that need to be addressed by a professional plumber.
Clunking and Thumping
A clunking noise that lasts for only a minute when you turn on the water is usually caused by water flowing into pipes of different temperatures. Insulating your pipes, especially those near an outside wall, can help reduce this problem. If your pipes aren't securely attached, they can squeak or thump against a wall. Solve the problem by installing pipe-holding brackets, also called tube straps, available at most hardware stores.
When the Noise Doesn't Stop
If you've gone through the steps to expel air from your water pipes but you still hear noises, Express Sewer & Drain notes that it could be a leak in your water well system or in the piping. It's time to call in a plumber if this is the case so that you can get the leak repaired.
Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.