That Noisy Pipe in the Wall

Everyday we receive questions and plumbing stories and solutions from folks all over the country.  If you search through our plumbing Question Archive or some of our general articles on plumbing related issues, you will find a wide variety of problems, some of which you have likely experienced.  Indeed, if you do a simple search of  archived questions and answers, chances are you will find an answer to whatever problem you are experiencing.  But there is one plumbing related problem or nuisance that we hear about all the time.  It is not the running toilet or related to the toilet, though that topic comes up often.  What definitely would make the plumbing problem all star team for receiving among the most inquiries is the noisy pipe in the wall problem.  For sure, it is in most cases not something you should be overly concerned about and yes, there is a reason why it is happening and a solution if you care to implement.  And no, it is not associated with a haunting or something out of this world!  Nevertheless, it plagues almost all of us and while we have addressed this a few times in the past, lately we have been receiving an unusual number of inquiries about what this is all about.  For example, here are some recent questions that have come forth about the pipe plumbing gremlin from our visitors just to give you an idea of what has been on the minds of some of our users or more specifically, the noises they are hearing in their homes!

We are hearing a high pitch sound from the wall when we turn on the water. What can I do to stop this annoying noise?

Whenever we turn on a faucet in our home there is a noise that happens.  It almost sounds like a bell tone and lasts for a couple seconds then stops.  This is for hot or cold water, when any faucet is turned on and also occurs when the washer uses water. Several people have suggested something that you put on the water line that will stop this. What are they referring to?

When I run hot water, my pipes make howling noise. What does this mean?

Alright, I can assure you that none of your homes are suffering from a ghostly encounter.   The causes of this phenomenon is definable.  Often the noise people hear varies from a light tapping sound to to a large burping noise, as if someone quite large is clearing their throat or someone is dragging a heavy piece of furniture across a wood floor, stopping and starting.  At times, homeowners have described this clapping or screeching noise as so loud that they fear something is about to break.  It truly is a plumbing acoustics phenomenon.

If you are hearing a whistling noise, then be sure to check the inlet valve as the water may be creating this noise as its forced through a very narrow opening.  Inlet valves can be located behind refrigerators, toilets, sinks, and also check behind the washing machine.

If the noise takes on the form of a ticking or loud cracking noise then it could be due to a temperature differential.  Imagine a cold water pipe suddenly having hot water running through it as you ready the shower or the washing machine or dishwasher changes to a warm/hot water cycle.  One solution is to insulate the pipes in question in order to maintain a more even temperature. You can at times actually see the pipe, if visible, move as the banging noise commences.  So wrap it up or clamp it down to keep it from rattling .

If your faucet is making a soft rattling noise or a tap, tap, tap type of noise, then check out the washer in your faucet as it may be worn.

Sometimes we have our hot water heater temperature control turned up too high which can exasperate the problem.  So you might try turning it down a tad.

Often the loud banging noise is due to an air pipe chamber problem.  This occurs when air gets into the pipes.  To remedy this problem turn off the water supply at the main.  Then open up a faucet far from the main cut off and bleed the air out.  You can also turn on the washing machine and dishwasher to further move the air pockets out of the pipe system and while you are at it, flush the toilets.  After a couple of minutes, turn back on the water.

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