Is your plumbing getting noisy?
If the water pipes in your home make a noise whenever they’re turned on, it’s important to check out what the issue is as soon as possible. In most cases, the banging, clanging or rattling is a loose pipe knocking against something else. However, if it’s something more serious, the sooner you fix it the better.
Follow the pipes
The fastest way to assess the problem is visually. Run the tap that causes the problem and follow the length of the pipe. If you see it shaking and banging against a wall or rattling in its u-clamp, then that is most likely the cause of the annoyance. Thankfully, this is a reasonably simple fix. All you have to do is secure the pipe more than it already is. A piece of garden hose or rubber wedged between the pipe and a u-clamp is usually enough to stop the noise.
However, if your pipes are in sealed off walls, it isn’t always possible to follow their entire length. One way to try and secure the pipes – without ripping your walls apart – is to put foam or rubber padding in the holes where the pipes exit and enter the walls.
If this doesn’t solve the problem, it may be necessary to get into the walls. Before you start tearing anything apart, take the time to listen to the entire length of the pipes to ascertain exactly where the noise is coming from. This will save you quite a bit of time, effort and mess.
Are the pipes made of copper?
Another consideration is if you have copper pipes in your home. The metal has a habit of expanding and contracting when it heats up and then cools down respectively. This can cause a loud, ticking or cracking noise whenever you run the hot tap, and then again when the pipes cool after the water has been turned off.
This noise isn’t necessarily something that will lead to a plumbing disaster. However, copper pipes can crack after many years of use, so it is worthwhile making sure that they don’t expand and contract too much every time you turn them on.
There are two ways to deal with this issue. The first is to turn down the temperature in your hot water geyser. A few degrees lower won’t affect you too much, but could extend the life span of your pipes. The other method is to insulate the pipes. This has a dual effect – it dampens the sound that pipes make and it stops the metal from getting too cold so that the hot water doesn’t cause too much of a temperature change.
You might have a ‘water hammer’
While most of the knocking and rattling is just an annoyance that can cause minor damage, there is one banging that you should pay attention to straight away. A ‘water hammer’ is the noise that occurs when you turn off the tap suddenly and a shock wave rushes through the water creating a strong bang.
This hydraulic shock wave is caused by the sudden halting of fast flowing water and pressure building up very quickly. To stop this from happening, it might be a simple case of ensuring that you’re careful when you turn the taps off. The noise will decrease if you slowly stop the water running.
A ‘water hammer’ can be quite a serious issue though, as the sudden changes in pressure can cause seals to break or pipes to crack. In order to fix the problem, you will have to get a plumber to install an air chamber or cushion at all of your taps. The air inside this device will contract when the pressure suddenly increases, softening the impact and preventing the shock wave from forming.
Keep a close watch on your pipes
Whatever is causing the banging, rattling or knocking in your pipes, it’s important to keep an eye on them. If the problem is left unchecked, it will most likely lead to a plumbing disaster down the road. However, now that you know what to look for, you’ll be able to prevent things from getting worse.