Rattling Pipes: What Is My Home’s Plumbing Trying to Tell Me?

You turn on the water in your home and hear a clunk, bang, or hammering sound. You shut off the water and hear another loud noise coming from inside the walls. These types of noises could indicate rattling pipes or other types of plumbing-related problems you will want to investigate further.

Ignoring the noise and problem will not make it go away. Depending on the cause, things could become worse. The last thing you want to experience is waking up in the middle of the night to loud, noisy plumbing or go to use the bathroom and step onto a wet, flood floor.Man plugging ears from loud noise

Let’s take a look at some of the more common causes of rattling pipes and what you can do to resolve the problem.

Different Types of Noises

The types of noises you hear inside your walls is directly related to the type of plumbing materials used in your home. Copper and metal pipes will tend to be much noisier compared to PEX, PVC, and CPVC pipes. The latter three are made from various plastic-like materials, so noises will sound a bit different.

Regardless of the type of plumbing used in your home, the different types of noises you may hear could include:

  • Banging
  • Hammering
  • Rattling
  • Whistling
  • Popping
  • Crackling
  • Gurgling
  • Squealing
  • Humming

It is important to try to identify the noise to troubleshoot and diagnose the actual plumbing issue.

Water Pressure ProblemsWater pressure valve

If the water pressure inside your home is too high, it can create different types of noises because the pipes are vibrating. Banging and rattling are two of the more common noises associated with high water pressure.

Excessive pressure is also not good for any water-type appliances you use. The pressure can blow out intake valves and other parts and components. For instance, if you notice the pressure on the water dispenser on your refrigerator has changed, it may indicate the water intake in the refrigerator has been damaged.

To determine if this is the cause for your noisy pipes, you will want to see if your home has a water pressure regulator and what it is set on. The water pressure regulator is normally attached near the water main prior to the plumbing lines entering the home. In newer homes, it could be in your garage.

If you are not sure if you have a water pressure regulator or where it is located, or you need to know what pressure is ideal for your home, you will want to call a local plumbing company for assistance.

Loose Plumbing PipesPlumbing Pipes

If the plumbing pipes inside your walls, flooring, or ceiling in between floors were not properly secured during construction, they can bang, rattle, and hammer. As water flows through the pipes, they will move freely since they are not secured. If the sounds are constant while the water is running, then you most likely have loose plumbing pipes that will need to be fixed.

This constant banging inside the walls may not seem like a big deal, other than being annoying. However, with repeated movements and banging against the inside walls, the pipes can get damaged and start to come apart at fittings and joints. This can lead to water leaks inside interior walls and major water damage to your home.

Obstructions in the Drain Pipes

Gurgling sounds are quite common in drain pipes. For instance, you might hear this sound coming from your kitchen sink when someone has flushed the toilet or is taking a shower in another part of the home.

Gurgling means there is some form of obstruction developing inside the drain line. It could be soap scum, hair, grease, dirt, or other debris. It could also be an object that accidentally went down the drain, like a hair clip, small toy, etc. In older homes with steel or copper pipes, gurgling can also start to occur if you have hard water, from calcium and mineral deposits and scale buildup.

Whatever you do, please DO NOT use chemical-based drain cleaners. These are harmful to the environment and could damage your home’s plumbing. The easiest, most effective, and the environment- and plumbing pipe-friendly way to resolve gurgling sounds is to schedule drain cleaning services with your local plumbing company.

Water HammeringHammer in Water

Water hammering is a type of noise water will make when its flow is abruptly stopped inside the plumbing lines. You may have noticed this sound after your washing machine fills with water and it shut it off or after the dishwasher fills. Sometimes you will hear it come from inside your toilet water tank after flushing the toilet.

Water hammering is normally caused by fast-closing water valves. The valve has closed so quickly that the flow speed of the water does not have time to compensate. When the valve is closed, the water is still moving and flowing at the same speed. However, because the valve is now shut, the force of the water slams against the valve and can take a hammering, banging, or rattling sound.

Another cause for water hammering is if your home has air chambers attached to different areas of the home’s plumbing system and these have filled with water. Air chambers act like the airbag in your car and help cushion the water when the flow is stopped. Rather than making a banging sound against the pipe, the force of the water is directed into the air chamber.

One way to find out if your home has air chambers is to shut off the water main in the home. Next, turn on all the faucets inside the home until all the water has drained out of the lines. Wait for about five to ten minutes after this, then close all of the faucets. Now turn the water main back on.

Finally, check to see if you still hear noises inside the walls, by turning on a faucet and shutting it off. If you do not, then the problem was the air chambers needed the water to be removed. If you do, then it is time to call a professional plumber.

Water hammering problems can cause damage over time. The force of the water can damage shut off valves, place excess strain on pipe walls, and more. Water leaks could develop and lead to bigger problems.

Hot Water Heater FailingWater Heater

If you have a tank-based hot water heater in your home, there are several different noises you might notice when near the tank or running hot water. Snapping, cracking, and popping are all typical noises you will hear inside the tank. These indicate there is sediment buildup inside or problems with the heating elements.

Whistling could be another sound you can hear near the tank. Whistling could be an indication the water pressure inside the tank is too much. A rumbling sound, similar to boiling water, is a dangerous sound. It means the water inside the tank is boiling and could be accompanied by whistling.

As the boiling water turns into steam, it is increasing the pressure inside the tank, just like a tea kettle. Eventually, the pressure will become too much, and the tank could explode. If you hear either whistling or rumbling inside your hot water heater, you will want to:Plumber with Wrench

  1. Turn off the power to the hot water heater.
  2. Turn off the water main.
  3. Turn off the gas main if you have natural gas.
  4. Evacuate the area around the heater.
  5. Call your local plumber for emergency service.

The noises of your home’s plumbing are making could indicate a variety of different plumbing problems. For help diagnosing the cause of noisy and rattling pipes or other plumbing repair and air conditioner maintenance services, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-603-9949 today!

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