It’s not uncommon to occasionally hear an odd noise in your home like a “bump in the night”. As long as they aren’t happening frequently, most of these can be ignored without consequence.
Noises in your pipes, however, are almost never ones you should ignore. No two sounds are the same when it comes to plumbing, so it’s important to know what can cause certain sounds and what can be done about it.
Causes of noisy pipes
Light rattling sounds in the walls, particularly when taking a shower, are common signs of a plumbing problem. This is generally caused by a pattern of irregular water flow in the house, frequently due to unsecured pipes. These are generally a simple fix and likely won’t be too expensive or damaging.
Loud banging in the pipes is another story, and this should be checked immediately. The bang of a “water hammer” is typically caused by fast flowing water coming to an abrupt stop in a pipe. This is most frequently caused by a closed valve, though there can be other causes. If this continues, pipe joints can become damaged and they may outright disconnect, resulting in expensive repairs.
Constant rumbling is an urgent issue as well. While not as shocking as the hammer, it can be a persistent and annoying sound which indicates a problem with the water heater. Most likely, this is being caused by a collection of sediment at the bottom of the water heater.
Water contains a variety of minerals, and when it’s left still (like when sitting in a water heater), the minerals can settle to the bottom, creating a sediment that hardens over time. This will almost certainly reduce the efficiency of your water heater, and in some cases it can cause water trapped in the sediment to boil, resulting in a rumbling sound.
A damaged water heater is expensive to replace, and pressure from boiling water could even cause it to explode. This is incredibly dangerous, of course, and will cause extreme damage to the home, so water heater maintenance is of utmost importance.
Depending on the severity of the problem, you may be able to fix noisy pipes on your own. Particularly in cases of unsecured pipes, they may simply need to have joints tightened or even just be supported by a clamp or tape. Just be sure to avoid over tightening fittings, as this can cause water seals to rupture.
When it comes to the loud banging of a water hammer, the best bet for a DIY solution is to install an arrestor on the offending pipe. This absorbs the shock of the water traveling through the pipes and prevents shaking. Of course, the last thing you ever want is for your home repairs to add to the problem. It’s just as important to know when to call in the pros.
Even if you fancy yourself a handy person, there’s certainly no shame in contacting services like Blue Bear plumbing in a pinch. This is especially true in cases that could be a safety hazard, like repairing a water heater. Typically, a water heater needs to be at least partially drained before any repairs, and the water temperature is extremely dangerous.
It’s also a good idea to call professional plumbers if you’re ever in doubt about your own repairs, or you’re dealing with low water pressure. Pressure problems could be caused by things like blockages or city problems that are out of your control. Fixing simple problems yourself is great and cost effective, but it’s never worth it to risk creating a bigger problem.