Noisy Water Pipes: 5 Reasons and How to Fix Them

fix noisy water pipes

Last updated: January 31, 2022 at 11:37 am

If you find that your water pipes are making loud noises, it can be worrying, annoying and extremely frustrating. You may be wondering why water pipes are noisy.

In this article:

We’ll uncover the top 5 reasons why water pipes are noisy – water hammer, loose fittings, high water pressure, clogs and blockages and copper pipes. We’ll also explore why pipes can be noisy even when the water isn’t running, as well as why pipes can become noisy after flushing the toilet.

5 Reasons Your Water Pipes Are Noisy

If your water pipes are noisy, it’ll normally be down to one (or more) of these 5 things: water hammer, loose fittings, high water pressure, clogs and blockages or the fact that the pipes are copper.

1. Water Hammer

If you’re hearing loud thuds and bangs from your water pipe, then you’re probably pretty concerned. Luckily, these noises are almost always down to one thing – water hammer. A water hammer occurs upon protection system failure. To protect the system, water pipes are fitted with air chambers, that stop water hitting valves when any taps are turned off.

But the downside to this system is that, over time, water replaces the air, which reduces the effectiveness of this safety measure. This means that liquid will start to crash into the valves, creating the ever so dreaded thudding noise. You can fix a water hammer, without professional help. Simply turn off the mains water supply, turn on all the taps to allow all the water to drain from your pipes, and then turn the taps off.

This will replenish the air in the protection system. This will mean that, when you turn a tap off, air, instead of water will hit the valves, stopping the thudding noise.

2. Loose Fittings

water pipe fittings

This is probably the most obvious answer in the list, but it’s also frequently the reason why your water pipes are noisy. Think about it- your pipes carry water through your home all day, every day. So, if you’re hearing a rattling, or even vibrating coming from your pipes, it’s probably because that they’re not fitted properly.

They could also just come lose with time. Loose pipes need fixing immediately, because neglecting them could lead to more serious damage. If you have access to the pipes, you can tighten them yourself by tightening the bolts around the pipes. But, if you’re in any doubt, get a professional to do it for you. It may be that you need new fixtures, and these can only be fitted by professionals in most cases.

3. High Water Pressure

Believe it or not, but your water pressure might just be the reason for your noisy pipes. It can also have serious impacts on your pipes if you don’t address the issue promptly, so it’s a good idea to check your pipes for high water pressure. The reason that high water pressure causes noisy pipes is because the pressure means the water gets forced through the pipes too quickly, which causes a loud sound. If your water pressure is higher than 1.5 bar, then you know you’ve got an issue.

High water pressure can lead to damage on your appliances, as they’ll be overworked, and simply aren’t designed for such hard pressure. You can check your water pressure yourself, using a pressure metre, or even your boiler, which will have one installed.

Alternatively, you can call a plumber, who will fix the issue for you. This can be expensive though, so if you can fix the issue yourself, you’ll be able to save some money on a very unattractive expense.

4. Clogs and Blockages

As with pretty much anything, your water pipes can get dirty and damaged over time. This is particularly true of hard water areas, where there is more substance in the water, which can cause bigger blockages. You can also experience a sludge build up from central heating systems.

If you hear a clinking sound, then your problem is probably a clog or blockage, because this sound is the sludge hitting the side of the pipe. You should not try to fix this issue yourself. Attempting to drain pipes without training or assistance can be dangerous, and you’ll probably end up damaging your pipes, or making the blockage worse.

Instead, call a professional. This will get rid of the clog once and for all, and you won’t run the risk of permanent pipe damage.

5. Pipes Are Copper

Most pipes are made from copper. Copper is cheap to use, but is also strong, durable, and easy to work with, which is everything you need in a pipe. But they can cause noises for one main reason. Copper, as a metal, expands when it’s heated up. So, if you’re running hot water through your pipes, and then start to hear noises, it’s probably because your copper pipes are expanding. The pipes will brush up against joints and brackets within your home.

This won’t damage your home or the pipes, but it does make a very loud and extremely annoying sound. You can fix this problem by placing insulating foam round all your water pipes. This will stop the noise of metal on metal when the copper expands. You can do this yourself if you’re able to access the pipework. However, any hidden pipework will probably need to be left to the professionals.

So, there are five main reasons why your water pipes are making noise. Work your way through the list to find out which issue you think you have, then try the solution. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then try a different method. And, if you can’t fix the problem yourself, always call a professional.

Noisy When Water Isn’t Running

One of the main causes of noisy water pipes, even when water isn’t running is water hammer. This is a common issue and can occur even when you don’t turn your tap on. This is because there is always water in your pipes, even when you’re not running water. So, if there is no air to cushion the force of the water, the impact is going to cause loud banging noises. This can become particularly annoying, because the banging will occur repeatedly, even at night when you’re trying to sleep. Fixing a water hammer is simple, and just refer to the guide above if you need reminding of the steps.

Another cause of noisy water pipes when water isn’t running is loose piping. If your pipes are fitted into their brackets loosely, then the pressure of the water will cause them to vibrate. They’ll vibrate on hard surfaces like metal or concrete, causing a horrible banging noise. You can fix this problem easily, by tightening the pipes and using insulation. It’s a good idea to check on this regularly, because loose pipes can cause leaks, which can be very expensive to repair.

The last, and perhaps most daunting reason why your pipes are noisy when the water isn’t running is because there are rodents running in or around the pipes. Rats and mice will make loud banging noises in and around pipes, as they run up and down them, which may be the cause of your loud noises. If you suspect this is the reason, then call a professional immediately. They’ll be able to offer the most effective and humane solution.

Noisy After Flushing the Toilet

toilet water pipe

If your water pipes are noisy after flushing the toilet, it’s probably because of a defective fill valve located in the toilet’s tank. This is a very common issue in older toilets, and it’s pretty easy to diagnose whether this is the issue or not.

All you’ll have to do is remove the tank lid, and lift the float ball upward, after flushing. This will stop the water flow. If the noise stops after doing this, then it’s a good sign that your fill valve is faulty. Most fill valves can’t be repaired, and even if they can, it’ll be more expensive to repair than simply buying a new one.

They’re not too expensive to buy, and they’re simple to install yourself. If your toilet is particularly old, this may even be a sign to replace the whole unit.

Rounding Up

Overall, there are five common reasons as to why your water pipes are making noise. If you find that your water pipes are making noise, then you should try to diagnose the issue as soon as possible. Not only will noisy water pipes drive you and your household crazy, but left, they can cause pretty serious damage to your pipes. This can lead to expensive consequences.

And, if you ever feel out of your depth, then call a professional. They’ll be able to get the job done quickly, safely, and efficiently.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 3 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    I’m not a very quiet type person & am slightly deaf as a result! I do work in construction so have some thoughts on this article.

    It is not unusual to have local street water pressure anywhere between 3 to 10 bar (1 bar = 14,5 psi). 3 bar is quite acceptable for households & some equipment, e.g. some shower valves, may even flow better a bar or so higher. 1.5 bar would not generally be regarded as problem & certainly isn’t particularly high pressure, unless you really are affected by pipe flow noise – perhaps in a room with pipes adjacent to a bedroom where a sleeper might be disturbed by the sound. Pressures a lot over 3 bar or more can definitely be quite “wooshingly” noisy, often depending on pipe locations in the property. Dense rockwool can be helpful in this regard in boxed-in pipe areas.

    Quite commonly, a pressure reducing valve (PRV) is fitted when the local pressure is say, over 5 bar. Allowing you to adjust the pressure down to protect household equipment, some of which have max pressure limits for reliable use. Although most household equipment copes reasonably well with pretty high pressures, it can be the cause of repeated leaks & plumber call out costs.
    If a PRV is fitted too close to a pipe elbow or tee on it’s outlet, the PRV itself can create very loud water hammer. It is important to have at least 6″ / 150mm of straight pipe run after the reducer & preferably, if an elbow is required near to it, the bend is better made as a hand formed gentle “swept” elbow. This all helps smooth the flow so the PRV mechanism can adapt to the changing pressure conditions.
    Re. water hammer in general, I have worked in properties with very high pressure that never had water hammer. Usually something in particular is triggering it, as you listed & it doesn’t always require very high water pressure to occur. If you have a hammering or squealing pipe such as near a washing machine, there are small “hammer reducers” that can be fitted in line & as they are internally sealed, no longer fill with water & stop working like the old “dead legs”. Modern washing machines / dishwashers have solenoid controlled, fast shut off valves that can set off water hammer if the pipework is susceptible to it, as to some extent the modern 1/4 turn, ceramic washer taps will do.
    Water hammer in pipes that are not flowing is highly unlikely, if not impossible, but in shared properties, such as flats / apartments in a divided house using the same water supply, (which is less common these days); someone else in the building may be opening a tap, toilet flushing or using a washing machine, that is triggering the hammer.
    Certainly your neighbours pipework may be the source of “water hammer” noise problems, even on separate supplies.
    As you say, various noises such as banging or clunking can also occur in pipes that are touching other parts of the building, commonly through walls or resting on joists directly under floorboards. It can often occur in central heating pipes as they heat or cool, particularly in older or badly fitted systems. These noises might sometimes be misconstrued as water hammer, even though no taps are open or water flowing.
    Kind Regards
    Rob

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