How to Fix Noisy Pipes

Does you home sound like a ghost is living in the walls—thumping, rattling, and hammering every time you turn off a faucet or flush a toilet? If it does, the chances are good that it’s just the plumbing. Pipes can make a variety of noises that are due to any of several problems:

Foam pipe insulation can help quiet some noisy pipes. Photo: Frost KingFrost King

Foam pipe insulation can help quiet some noisy pipes.

Rattles. Sometimes water traveling through pipes makes them vibrate against your home’s framing members. If you can gain access to your pipes where they rattle, from the basement, for example, the quickest and easiest way to solve the problem is to put foam pipe insulation sleeves onto them and refasten them securely.

Chattering. If pipes chatter when you turn on certain faucets, replace the faucet washers. For information on this, see How to Fix a Dripping Faucet.

Water hammer. A very common pipe noise called “water hammer” is the banging sound that may occur when water rushes through pipes and hits a quick-closing valve, such as the type inside a toilet or washing machine. Normally a home’s plumbing system is designed with short lengths of pipe that fill up with air to cushion the water as it comes to a quick stop, but the air can eventually leak out.

water-hammer-arrestor-Sioux-ChiefSioux Chief

Water Hammer Arrestor

To solve water hammer, recharge the water supply system with air to help cushion the water’s flow when it reaches faucets. To do this, turn off the main water supply valve, and drain the water from the supply system by opening all of your house’s faucets halfway. Then close the lowest faucets and turn on the main water supply. Work your way up through the house, turning off the faucets as water begins to flow through them.

If the problem persists, you can buy a water hammer arrestor that attaches to the supply valve or pipe that serves the offending fixture. For information about working with copper pipe, see Working With Copper Pipe. If this work is beyond your skills, call a plumber.

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  • BeverlyG

    Our shower makes a loud vibrating, knocking sound on it’s own or when another source is turned on like the faucet in the that bathroom or the adjacent bathroom. The noise increases in loudness & sounds like the pipes are going to shake loose or explode. What can be the problem?

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