Are your pipes making noise? From high-pitched squeaks to loud hammering sounds, your pipes can make a racket. The reasons range from water pressure that’s too high, to water logged air chambers, or even loose pipes. A simple home remedy can be to anchor pipes that are exposed more securely to the ceiling and walls, however more serious problems may require a little mater plumber TLC. Let’s look at some of the reasons for pipe noise:
Pipes can bang when you turn the water on or off because they are loose. Pipes are supposed to be anchored every 6 to 8 feet horizontally, and every 8 to 10 feet vertically by plumbing code. You may need additional pipe straps added to tightened, the addition of a rubber blanket or other cushioning device around where the pipes are supported, or even duct tape wrapped between the pipe and the pipe straps to provide added noise suppression. Pipes, especially plastic ones (PCV Schedule 40 or others), need expansion room. Don’t use galvanized straps on copper pipes as they can react.
Only hot water pipes can squeak. The squeaking is caused by the pipe moving in its strap as it expands, and the friction between the strap and the pipe cause the “squeak.” The solution? Cushion the pipe as you would for a banging pipe.
This occurs when you turn off the water at a faucet or an appliance quickly. It sounds like a loud bang. The water flowing through the pipes suddenly comes to a stop, and continues pushing the pipe, as if a hammer hit it, into the next joist, beam or wall. The solution? Check for loose pipes and anchor them. Sometimes an air chamber needs to be added or replaced to cushion the rapidly stopping water. Air chambers become flooded with water over time, and once there is no longer any air left in them, has no way of slowing the rapidly flowing water. While the long term solution is to use a diaphragm air chamber, as recommended by modern plumbing code, that can not become flooded — a service Nero Plumbing can perform for a very low cost – a possible quick home remedy is to turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, open all the faucets to drain the system, and then close the faucets and turn on the water again. Sometimes this will fix the problem for several months. In the long run, you should call a master plumber and have it corrected professionally.
Another potential problem for water hammer can be too high water pressure. If your pressure is above 80 psi (pounds per square inch), a pressure reducing valve will solve the problem and save on your water bill.
Although there are a many reasons pipes can make noise, there is usually a simple explanation and solution for even the most complex and bothersome problems. The master plumbers at Nero Plumbing can give you a free estimate and professional opinion on how you can stop your pipe noises today.