When your plumbing system is working properly, you don’t have to think about it. Water comes in, water and waste get removed – that’s the end of the story. Unfortunately, things don’t always go so smoothly. Sometimes, the plumbing can break down – noisily. Here’s a primer on the possible meaning behind the strange noises coming from your pipes, and how to remedy them.
Hissing in the Sink: A hissing sound coming from your fixtures is often a sign that the water pressure is too high. This can run up your water bill and stress your pipes over time. Having a pressure regulator installed can keep the PSI within normal levels.
Thud or Hammer: The distinctive thud when you turn off a faucet can be another indication that your pressure is too high. A regulator might help, as could installing air chambers or shock absorbers in the pipes. These devices compress when the water shuts off, cushioning the hammer effect.
Whistling from the Pipes: If your fixtures whistle, that could indicate the opposite problem – the pressure is too low. Try turning your pressure regulator down, if you have one. A whistle could also be a sign that there’s air or debris in the pipes. To address that issue, turn off your main shutoff valve and run the faucet until you drain out all the water, then open the valve again and see if that helps.
Rattle and Shake: Do you hear your pipes rattling when you flush the toilet or otherwise drain out water? They might be physically loose. Test the fittings to find any spots that aren’t properly secured, and simply tighten them up to quiet down the racket.
Strange Gurgling Coming from the Drain: This could mean that your vent pipe is blocked, which prevents water from draining properly and also could cause bad odors and gases to back up into your home. The vent opening (usually located on the roof) should be visually inspected for anything that might be obstructing it.
An Ominous Dripping: If one of your plumbing fixtures is dripping, it’s not just a minor annoyance – it’s also a serious waste of water. A single leaky faucet can waste 3,000 gallons of water per year, according to the EPA. Before you waste another drop, you can solve the problem by putting in a new washer or even installing a brand new faucet.
Whooshing from the Shower: If you hear a whoosh when you take your daily shower, it probably means that there is mineral buildup in your pipes or hot water heater. This is most common in areas that have “hard water,” or water with high quantities of mineral content. You may need to have your heater or pipes professionally flushed to clear out the sediment. A water softener can also help minimize future problems.
When in doubt, call in a qualified plumber to diagnose your noisy pipes and get your plumbing system flowing in peak condition again.