Here’s Why Your Plumbing Is Making Strange Sounds

Listen up: Your plumbing could making a ruckus because of a water hammer or creaking copper pipes that hum and vibrate with passing water. Here’s how to silence annoying pipe noises.

Beware the Water Hammer

That sudden, alarming "KLA KLUNK!" when you turn off your water? That’s a water hammer and it could be an indication that the pressure in your lines is too high. The hammer sound is the result of a surge of water slamming against the shut-off valve. This hydraulic shock can happen when you turn off the faucet or when a greedy appliance, such as a washer or sprinkler system, demands a large supply of water then abruptly shuts the valve. SLAM! Over time, all that banging and clanging can damage the joints and connections in your pipes. So, don’t ignore it.

Possible solutions:
  • Lower the water pressure in your home or purchase a water pressure regulator - Most of the time, water hammers result from water pressure being too high. You can adjust this at the pressure regulator near where the water supply enters the house. Don’t have one? Consider getting a pressure regulator professionally installed.
  • Purchase a water hammer arrestor - These air-filled cylinders absorb hydraulic shock. They can be installed between the water-supply line and the shut-off valve with a screw-on connection. For example, if you’re certain the hammering is coming from the pipes connected to the washing machine, attach arresters onto both the hot and cold water lines. Problem solved (hopefully.)
  • Drain your plumbing air chambers - Air chambers are vertical lengths of pipe located near plumbing fixtures, usually in the wall cavity. The pressurized air cushions the blow of fast-moving water so that you can turn off your water pretty well soundlessly. Air chambers, however, occasionally become waterlogged, rendering them ineffective. This can be fixed by draining your plumbing system. Turn off the water at the main supply, then turn on all your faucets, including any you may have in the basement and the hose bibs outside. Do this until the faucets run dry, and then turn the water back on. This should recharge your air chambers, once again helping to soften the jolt of high-pressure water.

Other Possible Causes of Strange Plumbing Noises

A water hammer isn’t always the culprit of sudden slams and bangs. Sometimes noise can be attributed to copper pipes. Copper expands and contracts ever so slightly when hot and cold water passes through it. Unfortunately, when copper pipes expand, they can knock against studs and joists in the walls, sending vibrations throughout the house. And as they cool down, they creak and crack as they contract. It’s an audible nuisance, one that can be solved by wrapping insulation around the pipes. Yes, that means ripping out the wall. So, you may want to hold off on that particular project until you plan to remodel.

If water hammers and clanking pipes persist, you might need your plumbing system diagnosed by a professional. Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Electric is happy to help. Call (334) 231-6980 or contact us online today!