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Plumbing Noises & What They Mean

A typical home plumbing system that’s functioning properly doesn’t make loud noises, so it’s worth investigating if yours begins to do so. In this blog, plumbing and air conditioning repair service company Palo Alto discusses what common plumbing noises may indicate.

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List of Contents

Whistling Sounds

A leaking toilet fill valve creates a whistling sound, which is transmitted through the pipes. This means if you have more than one toilet in the house, you may have to flush each toilet to find out which one is the culprit. Fortunately, whistling noises have a relatively simple fix. Once you’ve identified the toilet in question, simply adjust the fill valve mechanism. If the whistling sound persists, the fill valve may have to be replaced.

Vibrating Sounds After Flushing

Instead of a whistling noise, sometimes you may hear a quick vibrating sound after the toilet is flushed. In this case, the fill valve may be the culprit as well. The top cap of a fill valve contains a flexible diaphragm gasket, which creates a tight seal when it settles into place after a flush. As it’s made of rubber, it becomes rigid over time. When the diaphragm hardens like this, it begins to vibrate instead of settling into place.

For a quick fix, simply lift the fill valve float arm. While this isn’t a permanent solution, it can be useful if the issue arises in the middle of the night. Call your local heating and plumbing contractor to replace the diaphragm. Replacement diaphragms can be found in most hardware stores, and it shouldn’t take more than an hour for a plumbing professional to install one.

Banging Noises

There are two different causes of banging noises in pipes. The first cause is improperly-secured pipes. When water flows through pipes, it exerts pressure at turns and obstructions in the plumbing. Sudden changes in direction at these junctures cause pipes to start banging. A properly-planned plumbing system should have as few hard turns as possible. Long runs of unsecured piping will require brackets or something similar to eliminate such noises.

High water pressure causes another type of banging noise called a water hammer. This noise occurs when a faucet is turned off. The abrupt change in direction is like a high-speed object hitting a wall; the force has to go somewhere, and in this instance  the remaining length of pipe takes the full brunt of the force, resulting in a hammering sound. Repeated water hammering will eventually damage the plumbing. A device called a water hammer arrestor can be installed near the faucet to prevent this problem. It features an air valve that serves as headroom, which relieves water pressure and prevents water hammers.

Call Palo Alto for All Your HVAC and Plumbing Needs

Palo Alto Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is your leading provider of plumbing, air conditioning and heating repair services. Give us a call at (650) 856-3400 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in East Palo Alto and surrounding areas.