What Do Those Plumbing Noises Mean?
Plumbing noises are always worth keeping an ear and eye out for because they’re never just noises. Sometimes an unusual noise coming from your home’s plumbing is your first indication that something isn’t right. You should think of plumbing noises as an early warning sign. When you hear an awkward plumbing noise, try and pay attention to it! You could wind up saving a ton of money on your plumbing.
Some “early warning” plumbing noises are way more noticeable than others. If you have any of the following 4 plumbing noises, it’s definitely worth your time to check them out. Here are some simple ways to track down what that sound is, what’s probably making it, and what you should do about it:
Loud “bang” After Turning Off the Water
This sounds like a loud hammering or banging sound. It happens after you turn off the water that was flowing into a sink drain. Your banging sound is actually a specific plumbing phenomenon called “water hammer.” Our Orange County Plumbing Experts say that that water hammer happens when water that’s rushing through pipes suddenly comes to a complete halt. The force of the water abruptly quitting creates a shockwave that reverberates through your pipes as the hammering sound. If the pipes rattle and smack against other things during the shockwave, the water hammer sounds even louder.
Water hammering generally starts happening when the devices in the pipes designed to prevent it – stop functioning. Pipes have air chambers built into them. When the water hammer shockwave hits these air chambers, they compress and absorb the force similar to shock absorbers. Over time, however, the air chambers may fill up with water. When air chambers fill with water, they can’t compress the shockwave, and you end up with water hammering. Draining the water in your pipes’ air chambers is a fantastic solution to the problem.
A Whistling Shower Head
The majority of the time this sounds like a high-pitched whistling coming from your shower head while you’re taking a shower. It can happen intermittently or constantly while the shower is running. Furthermore, this noise could be happening for a few reasons. Most likely, something within the showerhead is partially blocking the water flow. Minerals and sediment can build up inside showerheads just like any other plumbing around your home. Showerhead clogs are more likely if you don’t use a water softener. Cleaning the showerhead should do the trick most of the time.
If your showerheads still whistles after you clean it, then there may be a problem with another aspect of the shower. More than likely the washer in the shower faucet diverter is worn out or damaged. If you hear the whistling if you use hot water, then the diverter is probably the problem. Replacing shower diverter washers is a fast and easy job. If the washer isn’t the problem – then you need to try replacing the showerhead entirely.
“Gurgling” in Drain
This ”gurgling” noise usually occurs after you turn off the water running in a sink. It could sound like the water’s struggling to move through the pipes, or like water is ”bubbling” in the drain. In addition, the sound could come from the drain itself, or you could hear it further down, near the trap. When a drain gurgles, it’s typically because the pipe port isn’t working the right way. The sound you’re hearing is air rushing past the water in your sink trap.
When water moves through a pipe it pushes air down the pipe, creating a vacuum behind it. Vents typically exist to add air back to the pipes after water pushes it down. If vents are blocked, the air has to find another way into the pipes–usually through the drain. When air pushes to fill the vacuum, it distresses the water from the trap. Clearing the drain vent should give the air an avenue to enter the pipe and solve your gurgling problem.
“Popping” Noise in Basement or Utility Closet
This “popping” noise can sound like popcorn cooking or at times like a dull thunking noise. It can be quite silent or surprisingly loud. The noises generally come from wherever your water heater is installed. It is a bit hard to notice unless you’re listening for it, but the noise generally happens after you use your water. Typically, the popping noise is the sound of water boiling up from under sediment inside the water heater’s tank.
Sediment tends to build up inside water tank tanks naturally over time–especially if your home has hard water. This sediment settles into the bottom of the water heater tank and traps some water underneath it. After the tank heats water, the water trapped beneath the sediment begins to boil.
Bubbles from the boiling water have a hard time escaping from under the sediment. These bubbles are what you hear “pop” with great force. Usually, flushing your water heater tank should do the trick. If it does not, you may have to replace the tank completely. By identifying and doing something about these plumbing noises early, you can get away from larger plumbing mishaps.
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