While ghost stories have always been with us, nothing accelerated their popularity more than modern plumbing systems. Pipes, boilers, and faucets have an uncanny ability to stimulate our superstitions, thanks to the eerie sounds they make when they malfunction.
Plumbing noises, however, aren’t the dead trying to communicate with you – they’re just a sign that you have something wrong with your system, and you need to do something to fix it.
Knowing what different sounds mean, though, can be a challenge. If you’re not a plumber, you can’t always tell the difference between a whistling or clunking noise, and whether it is dangerous or not.
In this post, we’re going to run through some of the noises you can hear and what they might mean. Don’t take any of this as gospel; you’ll need an accredited plumber to diagnose the actual issue with your system. But these general rules of thumb can help steer you towards the source of the problem.
Banging Sounds In Your Pipes
Banging sounds in your pipes are among the most unnerving noises that you can hear in your home. All that rattling and clanking can lead you to believe that there’s a poltergeist in your midst.
The actual cause of this sound is something called a “water hammer,” and it usually means that you have some kind of blockage.
Piping doesn’t stay perfectly clean forever. Over time, gunk builds up in the system and impedes the flow of water. When this happens, it jolts around, creating a hammer-like action.
The trick here is to clear the obstruction. Identifying where that is, however, is a challenge, and requires the help of a professional. Don’t start taking your piping apart yourself – you’ll wind up with flooding.
Growling When You Turn On The Hot Water
If you’ve noticed a growling noise when you switch on the hot water in your home, you’re not alone. It is a plumbing problem that afflicts most homeowners at some point in their lives.
The good news is that it doesn’t mean your plumbing is angry with you. Instead, it is usually a sign that there is a problem with your water heater. The thermostats in water heaters can sometimes go haywire, causing them to overheat the water. When this happens, they reach boiling point, creating bubbles of water vapor in the system. When you turn on the tap, these bubbles escape energetically, producing the noise that you hear.
Growling is potentially a severe problem that could cause your water tank to explode. If you have this problem, leave your faucets running for ten minutes and turn off your boiler manually.
Whistling When You Use The Shower Or Turn On A Faucet
Whistling sounds when you turn on your shower or faucet usually indicate an obstruction. It could mean that you have debris in the system or an issue with your ABS butterfly valve. Whatever the cause, the solution is relatively straightforward – replace the defective part.
In some cases, whistling results from loose material inside the piping. As water rushes past, it creates a kind of howling sound. Usually, this kind of whistling is benign, but it is also annoying, so you may want to fix it anyway.
If your toilet whistles after you flush it, then it is likely the result of limescale buildup. You can buy special products you add to your cistern that remove any residue naturally.
Gurgling Sounds When You Empty The Bath
Hearing gurgling sounds when you empty the bath is another common plumbing annoyance, seemingly with no explanation. Again, it is not some spirit trapped in your piping – usually, it is a sign of a clog.
Most clogs in the bathroom result from hair traveling into the pipe and then becoming congealed with shower products. Typically, you wind up with a big, slimy lump of material. Eventually, this accumulates more debris and grows into a clog that blocks your pipes completely.
Dealing with this issue is usually relatively straightforward. Either grab a plunger and try to dislodge it that way. Or use some drain unblocking fluid to dissolve and remove it.
Dripping Sounds That Don’t Stop When You Turn Off The Faucet
Hearing dripping sounds when all your faucets are closed can be a little unnerving. Unfortunately, you can hear dripping for all kinds of reasons. If the dripping carries on regardless, then it could be a sign that your pipes are leaking. If that’s the case, seek professional assistance immediately. Leaving the problem unresolved could lead to severe water damage.
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