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Explaining Common Plumbing Noises

indoor plumbing Do you hear ghostly noises at your home? A bump, thump, bang, or clang is most likely not a ghost, but your plumbing system sending you a message.

Various noises come from a plumbing system – some are good, and some may indicate that there is a problem. While most homeowners are used to the noises their home makes, many of these sounds can be easily reduced or require further investigation by a professional.

Typical Noises

In general, when plumbing is installed properly, you shouldn’t hear a lot of noise from it. But some homes have older plumbing, and with older plumbing comes strange sounds.

  • When you hear one or more loud banging noises or a series of banging noises, usually occurring when a tap is closed, this can be a normal sound for your plumbing system.
  • Sometimes you will hear a shushing noise as water flows through your pipes.
  • Splashing noises can occur when a tank is refilling. A splashing sound may also indicate that water is coming out of the valve under pressure, which is also normal.
  • Gurgling sounds can be heard through pipes or a waste trap. Gurgling noises through the pipes are often heard and can be expected when you have a new plumbing system or one that has been drained and refilled. However, gurgling noise can also mean that air is trapped in central heating pipes. When this happens, it’s best to bleed the pipes to release the trapped air. Gurgling noises can be a sign of a larger issue.
  • Oftentimes, a shower pump will make a noise. Make sure that the pump is not touching anything else.
  • Are you hearing creaking floorboards? This can be caused by the expansion or contraction of a hot-water pipe under the floorboard.

Noises That Need to Be Checked

  • Gurgling: A drain gurgling can indicate a blockage or clog. Gurgling from a shower or sink drain after flushing the toilet can mean you have a clogged pipe, the air in your pipes, or a much bigger problem – an issue in the sewer line. Gurgling noises also can be as simple as an incorrectly positioned heating pump.
  • Bang, clunk or clang: High water pressure can cause what is known as a water hammer, which makes one of these noises. The sound usually will occur when a dishwasher or washer stops filling, or when you turn off a faucet. A leak may develop over time if the water pressure is constantly high.
  • Tick-tick-tick: Do you hear a ticking sound? No, it’s probably not a bomb. Ticking pipes could mean a faulty water meter, the contracting or expanding of pipes due to changes in temperature, or loose or unstable pipes caused by aging.
  • Screeching: Do you have a radiator or baseboard heat? Occasionally, these types of systems will make a screeching noise that could mean there is air in the water lines or that a pressure-reducing valve needs to be adjusted or replaced.
  • Thumping in the wall: When the water is turned off, a thumping sound may indicate a plumbing problem.
  • Running water: A toilet is the most likely culprit in the case of a running water sound. It may have a broken flush valve that needs to be replaced.
  • Shushing: A shushing noise is the result of high water pressure or high pump pressure. The problem can be quieted by reducing the water flow or pump pressure.
  • Whistling: Hearing whistling noises from a showerhead or faucet usually means there’s a clog or buildup somewhere. Cleaning or replacing the showerhead or faucet is the best remedy.
  • Knocking: A popping or knocking noise may come from the water heater, and it usually means there’s a sediment buildup. Sediment buildup can reduce the water heater’s efficiency. Follow proper water heater maintenance in this case.

If you are hearing noises coming from your plumbing, it could be a sign that something is wrong, so it’s always best to call in a professional to take a look at it.

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