Pipes that shake and rattle can be highly inconvenient. Aside from being irritating to your ears, they can also damage your plumbing system and lead to expensive repairs and replacements later on. So, if you notice that your pipes have become incredibly noisy, make sure to fix them right away. You can start by taking these steps:
Find Out Where They’re Located
The noisy pipe can be anywhere in your house. So, if you don’t have an idea where it’s located, take the time to investigate. For example, if you notice that your pipes become noisy when you open a faucet, ask someone else to open the faucet while you try to find the source of the sound. Knowing the exact location helps you identify exactly what the problem is and take the right steps to solve it.
Check The Condition Of The Pipe
Once you’ve located the pipe, take a close look at it and see if it’s in good shape or not. One of the first things you should check is the pipe anchors. In many cases, pipes become noisy because their anchors have become loose or even broken. This causes the pipes to bang against the walls or even against the anchors themselves. If this is the case, you’ll need to tighten the pipe anchors or replace them with new ones if they’re beyond repair.
If the anchors aren’t broken but the pipe still bangs against the wall, consider adding more anchors to stabilize the pipes. Experts recommend installing a clamp every six to eight feet for horizontal pipes and every eight to ten feet for vertical pipes. Remember this, though: if you have copper pipes, don’t use galvanized anchors. Galvanic corrosion can occur when two different metals (like copper and steel) touch each other in an environment with an electrolyte (like water). This, in turn, can cause one of the metals (usually copper) to have an accelerated rate of corrosion, which can lead to plumbing leaks in the future.
Another thing you can do is to cushion your pipes with pipe insulating foam. This reduces the sound they make if they rattle or bang against the walls. But don’t wrap the foam tightly around the pipe; instead, leave a small space to allow the pipe to expand (particularly if it’s a PVC pipe).
Check The Water Pressure
Sometimes, pipes make noises because the pressure of the water inside them is too high. This can be dangerous: elevated water pressure levels don’t only cause irritating noises, but they can also damage your plumbing fixtures as well as dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances that are supplied by water. Fixing this damage can be costly, especially since some appliance companies void warranties when the device is destroyed because of high water pressure, leaving you to pay for the repair or replacement out of your own pocket.
To know if your water pressure is at the recommended level, you can buy a water pressure gauge from your local hardware store. Attach it to a spigot (aka a hose bib) and see the reading. If it goes beyond 80 psi (which is the maximum water pressure for residential areas), get in touch with your plumber and ask him to install a water pressure regulator in your main water supply pipe. This device will regulate the flow of water that comes into your plumbing system and ensures it stays below 80 psi.
Water pressure regulators can be on the expensive side (with a price range of around several hundred dollars), but the cost is worth it since you’ll get to avoid plumbing problems in the future. A word of warning, though: never attempt to install a regulator by yourself if you don’t have lots of skills, knowledge, and experience in plumbing. If you’re not sure how to go about it, get the help of your plumber.
Remove Water Hammers
A water hammer is the phenomenon that happens when water abruptly comes to a stop when you close a faucet or a shut-off valve. When it occurs, you’ll usually hear a loud, hammering sound (hence its name) that can be heard throughout your house. But water hammers don’t just produce irritating sounds; if left unattended, they can loosen or even damage your plumbing fittings!
The thing about water hammers is that they’re usually not a problem if the air chambers in your plumbing system work properly. Air chambers are vertical pipes that are filled with air and designed to absorb the impact of the water slamming against the pipes. They can be found in your wall cavities, usually near the areas where the main water supply pipe exits the wall and connects to faucets and valves. If these chambers get filled with water, they can no longer absorb pressure from the pipes and can pave the way to water hammers.
If you suspect that your air chambers are no longer working properly, don’t worry since you can fix the problem by taking these steps:
1. Shut off your main water valve.
2. Identify the faucet that’s located in the highest position (like the third-floor bathroom in a three-story house) from the main valve and open it. If you live in a single-story house, turn on the faucet that’s farthest away from the valve.
3. From the highest (or farthest) faucet, turn off the other faucets in your house until you reach the lowest (or nearest) faucet, which is usually located in the basement. Doing this allows water to drain out of your system and be replaced by air, which automatically replenishes the air chambers.
4. Do the same with your toilets. Flush them from the highest (or farthest) toilet to the lowest (or nearest) toilet.
5. Once your piping is completely drained of water, turn off the lowest (or nearest) faucet. Slowly turn on the main water supply. Water will be reintroduced to your pipes, but the air chambers will retain air.
Call Your Plumber
If you’ve done everything you could but your pipes are still noisy, it’s time to get the help of the pros. They know what to do to fix any issues in your plumbing system and make your pipes quiet again.