Stop ‘banging’ water pipes

2016-07-21 06:00
The flow of water that runs through the pipes contains energy. When this flow is abruptly stopped, the energy is what causes the loud banging sound. Photo: supplied

The flow of water that runs through the pipes contains energy. When this flow is abruptly stopped, the energy is what causes the loud banging sound. Photo: supplied

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THE flow of water in pipes can cause all kinds of weird noises. The sound of water running through the pipes isn't too bad, but what about some of those other plumbing sounds like creaks or cracking, rattling, whistling, and the most annoying or scary of them all - that loud banging noise?

Antonio Vannucci-Smit, of IONIC Gas Plumbing Electrical, shares some of the causes of noisy pipes and how to fix them.

Creaks or a cracking sound

These are usually caused by the expansion and contraction of the water pipes themselves.

As hot water runs through a pipe, it heats up the pipe naturally, causing it to expand slightly. Once the water stops flowing, the pipe cools and the metal contracts, resulting in the creaking or cracking sound.

The easiest way to fix this is to put some insulation around the pipe or, if the pipe is running through a tight fitting hole in the wood framing, cut a notch in the framing so that it can expand and contract without that sound.

Rattling

The cause and remedy for this noise is similar to the cracking sound. The rattling comes from the pressure of water running through a loose pipe, which causes it to vibrate or rattle slightly.

When a loose pipe vibrates against something solid, like roof trusses or ceiling brandering, you’ll hear the rattling sound.

Stopping the pipe from vibrating will fix the rattle, so put some cushioning around the pipe or fasten it more securely to the trusses using cable ties so that the pipe no longer rattles.

Whistling

This is usually caused by water flowing through a restricted section of the plumbing.

The restriction could be either sediment in the pipe or a defective washer or valve. If the whistling only occurs when a particular tap or mixer is turned on, that’s likely where the problem is, and replacing the washer or repairing the valve seat should fix it.

However, if the whistling sound occurs when any faucet is turned on, the problem is more likely in the main water supply valve.

Adjusting the water pressure at the main water valve by opening it further or closing it a little may dislodge the impediment, or the change in water pressure could get rid of the whistling sound.

If that doesn't eliminate the problem, you may have to call a professional out.

Banging

The loud banging sound that comes on when you shut off the water flow is called ‘water hammer’, and is a fairly common complaint in older homes.

The flow of water that runs through the pipes contains energy. When this flow is abruptly stopped, the energy is what causes the loud banging sound.

You can try to solve this by turning off the main water supply and opening all the faucets in the house to drain the system. Next, turn the water supply back on and work your way through the house, turning off the faucets as water flows through them. This should trap some air in the piping so it will provide a cushioning effect.

If this doesn't work, you can buy a water hammer arrester which can be attached directly to the water supply pipe where the water hammer originates.

If your plumbing is making any of these sounds, you should be listening because it's telling you it needs some maintenance. The sound is caused by something not working properly in your system and if you ignore it, over time, that small sound could lead to bigger problems. - Supplied.

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