Hearing banging, knocking, and humming sounds coming from deep within your home can be unnerving. This is especially true if you’ve just finished watching a scary movie or are curled up with a dog-eared copy of your favorite paranormal thriller. Fortunately, these noises can often be attributed to aging or distressed plumbing. Moreover, you may be able to determine which problems your water pipes are having by the specific sounds they’re making. Following are five reasons why your Wausau, Wisconsin home has noisy pipes along with a few tips for quieting them.

1. Problems With Water Flow

One of the most common sounds that aging, ill-maintained, or distressed pipes produce is a loud banging and clanging sound. These noises typically occur when the water is first turned on and they’re often an indication of trapped air. If you hear your pipes banging as soon as you turn on your taps, and if this banging is followed by an audible hiss, it’s likely the result of air bubbles within the plumbing system.

Water hammers can also be the source of banging and clanging sounds within residential plumbing. Water hammers are also known as hydraulic shock. This is the sudden stoppage of fluid movement when your faucets are turned off. Suddenly stopping the momentum of water creates a wave of pressure that causes pipes to vibrate.

Although there are two likely causes for banging pipes, they’re pretty easy to tell apart. Loud banging sounds that occur as soon as your pipes are turned on and that are then followed by a short, hissing noise indicate air bubbles. Short, softer banging noises that occur in a series when faucets are turned off indicate hydraulic shock. Despite seeming fairly harmless, both of these issues can have serious, underlying causes. Thus, it’s best to schedule a whole-house plumbing inspection if you have pipes that bang and clang.

2. Your Water Pressure Is Too High

Having overly high water pressure is problematic for numerous reasons. With high water pressure, much of the water that comes out of your faucets will flow down your drains unused. This water waste can cost quite a bit over time. High water pressure in the shower can also be hard on your hair and skin. Moreover, it will expedite wear on your washing machine, dishwasher, and on any other water-reliant appliance in your home. Excessively high water pressure can significantly shorten the lifespans of these costly, big-ticket items.

One of the most likely signs of high water pressure is a faint humming sound when your water is on. Fast-moving water causes pipes to vibrate. In fact, you may even hear a faint humming noise coming from behind your walls when your faucets are off if your home’s water pressure happens to be high.

This is a common problem, but it’s especially common in homes that rely on well water. If you use well water in your home, take a look at your water tank. The pressure setting shouldn’t be over 51 PSI. No matter where your water comes from, having your pipes constantly vibrating can also result in loose connections, worn components, and slow, hidden leaks. Although faint humming sounds aren’t intrusive, they can wind up being costly if they aren’t dealt with quickly.

3. There’s a Fast-Developing Clog in Your Plumbing System

Do your toilets ever gurgle randomly? Do you hear glugging or bubbling sounds coming from your drains? These could be an indication that a whole-house backup is looming just around the corner. This is especially true for older homes with outdated clay pipes on their exterior. Gurgling noises are an indication that your plumbing is attempting to move waste past a blockage or clog.

In older homes, clay pipes that lead to the sewer main can be encroached by aggressive weeds and tree roots. These invasive growths enter pipes to access the nutrient-rich, organic materials that flow through them. Once there, they make it increasingly difficult for solid waste to get by. Problems can mount quickly in these instances if anyone in the household is using “flushable wipes” that don’t break down.

In other instances, blockages may be the result of small, plastic items that have made their way down into the plumbing systems. Perhaps someone in your home accidentally flushed a toothbrush or a small toy. Gurgling noises can even be the result of built-up soap scum and other organic waste. No matter what the cause, you should put a professional plumber on the job right away.

4. Worn Bolts, Nuts, and Washers

No, there isn’t an angry specter in your walls signaling their distress at not being able to cross over. Instead, the loud rattling sounds that you’re hearing in your home are an indication that your plumbing system is getting old. Just behind your drywall and just under your ceilings and floors, your plumbing pipes are kept stationary by special fasteners. Over time, these components can grow loose, get stripped, or even completely detach. After all, they’re constantly subjected to the force of fast-moving water and all of the vibrating and jostling that this entails. The only way to quiet rattling pipes is by having a plumber determine where the damaged or missing fasteners are and replace them.

Rattling sounds often occur with other noises or just after other noises have developed. For instance, if you have excessively high water pressure in your home and the faint humming sounds that come with it, it won’t be long before you start hearing rattling as well. Higher than average water pressure places undue stress on pipe fasteners. If you’ve got pipes that bang and clang due to a water hammer, failing to have these noises addressed in a timely fashion can wreak havoc on your pipe fasteners too.

5. You’ve Got Worn or Broken Washers Near Your Appliances

Some plumbing noises aren’t actually coming from the pipes themselves. Instead, they originate from the connections behind major home appliances. Plumbing systems are a complex and incredibly intricate series of valves, washers, pipes, bolts, and nuts that work seamlessly together to move water and prevent leaks. All of these components are subjected to water pressure, and all of them can wear down over time when the pressure that they’re subjected to is too high.

Among some of the most vulnerable components in your home’s plumbing system are the smaller ones. These are the washers, nuts, and bolts that exist at your appliance connections. The considerable amount of movement that occurs at dishwashers and washing machines is often responsible for creating squeaking, squealing sounds within the plumbing whenever these units are turned on. These noises are an indication that worn bolts and other components at these connections need to be tightened or replaced.

To prevent excess wear in these areas, try not to overload your washing machine or dishwasher. Make sure that these appliances are properly installed, and schedule routine plumbing inspections.

Since 2005, Southport Home Services has been proudly serving residents of Wausau, WI and the surrounding area. We offer plumbing, air conditioning, heating, and indoor air quality services. If you have noisy pipes, we have the answers. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.

Meet the Author
Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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