View Full Version : "Clunking" noise when water first turned on

07-09-2007, 01:10 PM
I saw a similar question posted here back in '04, but it didn't really give advice, so here goes:

We recently had our 30+-year-old galvanized pipes replaced with copper and now have great water pressure and good-tasting water - what a diff! This was about 4 months ago and we didn't have any problems until recently when we hear a really loud "clunk" whenever we first turn on the water, especially in the shower or anywhere there is a high flow or water quickly coming out.

I'm guessing it has to do with pressure (too much maybe?), but I'm wondering if it has anything to do with the anti-backflow regulators (sorry if I got the terminology wrong - I'm not savvy in plumbing!) on all of the outside faucets where there is a garden hose connected. I'd read that there should be some device like this wherever there is water coming into the house to avoid contamination. Coincidentally, or not, when I put on these regulators and turn on the water, I get a high-pitched "whining" inside the house when I start the flow of water through the garden hose. Maybe I didn't put these in the right place - or have too many - or I don't know what!

If this sounds like a pressure problem, is it something we can test ourselves or do we need to call out the contractor who put in our new pipes?

Thanks for any advice you can provide.

07-09-2007, 02:02 PM
You usually get a whining noise when there is too little pressure, i.e., when a valve isn't open enough. And it goes away, when the pressure is increased, i.e., when the valve is fully open.

The clunking when you first open a valve may be due to a pipe not being secured properly. Perhaps it has recently come loose and that is why you now hear the noise.

The backflow preventers just screw on to the hose bibb and you screw the hose onto the backflow preventer, so there's not much you can do wrong there.

07-09-2007, 02:33 PM
Did the plumbers install water hammer arrestors?


07-09-2007, 03:25 PM
Thanks, Eric! We have a raised-foundation and some walls are still open to the studs, so I can check to see if anything has come loose. Glad to know I didn't screw up the backflow preventors!

Rancher: I'm still new to the plumbing world, though I've installed sinks, toilets, faucets, etc...you know, the typical DIY stuff. I'll check with the plumber to see if he installed the arrestor. Is that something that would be connected at the main line coming into the house?

Lesson learned when repiping: When we had this done, we were told that it was optional to replace the main line going to the street/meter and, against our better judgment, we opted to wait. Consequently, it ruptured when it was connected to the new pipes. Something tells me that he torqued it incorrectly, but we replaced the main later (at substantially more than it would have cost to do it all at once). Moral of the story: when plumbing, replace everything!!! Ah, hindsight...... :-(

Thanks for responding.

07-10-2007, 05:46 AM
Boo, be glad you replaced the supply line from the street. If not, you would probably not be enjoying such great water flow and pressure now. I have run into a lot of homes with great pressure and brand new plumbing after a remodel, who want a bid on sprinkler systems. 80 lbs pressure at 3 GPM coming through the galvanized supply pipe won't get the job done. And it must take forever to do laundry.

Some sort of high pitched whine or sort of whistling noise is very common with using outdoor faucets, I have had that in every house I have lived in, I just assumed it happend in most if not all. (not a plumber, just a ditch digger)
It reminds me when I have the sprinkler running on the garden,

If your plumber had to retrofit the copper inside the walls, I assume he did the least amount of drywall damage possible, so that probably means the pipes are a bit loose, meaning not strapped down as well as they would have been, had he had access to the bare studs. The above suggestion of hammer arrestors is a good suggestion, though I don't know if it will completely eliminate it. Think of it as moving into a new home, it will come with a few new noises, you just have to learn which ones are bad, and which ones are normal.
Maybe you can ask to listen to some of your friends plumbing to see how yours compares!:D

07-10-2007, 08:42 AM
Well, I looked up "hammer arrestor" on the internet (what a wonderful tool we have in the web!!) and it doesn't appear that we have one installed. I did notice a few of the pipes could be strapped to the studs better. Think our plumber was a bit lazy?? Lucky for us, all of the lines inside the house run directly through the kitchen wall and we're putting in new cabinets and appliances anyway, so we have the kitchen pretty much down to the studs in preparation for new drywall. The former owner had a penchant for texturizing all of the rooms in a stucco-type mud (uhg!). We're expert at drywalling, so it only costs the price of new sheetrock, tape and joint compound. Now we can strap away!

I so agree with Mr. Pike that it was well worth the extra cost to have a ditch dug for the main line. When I saw how occluded it was and what scary stuff can grow inside a galvanized pipe after 35 years, it creeps me out to think that we used the water for over 4 years! My husband laughed at me for only drinking bottled water until he saw the crap inside those pipes!!!

Thanks everyone for responding!

07-10-2007, 09:06 AM
My husband laughed at me for only drinking bottled water until he saw the crap inside those pipes!!!
You think that was bad, you should see the crap inside the city water mains....


07-10-2007, 09:42 AM
I can only imagine...and cringe!

Although, Lewis Black's Broadway stand-up routine on HBO makes me re-think even bottled water. He has a really funny segment about how we're obsessed with bottled water when, back in the day, we used to just drink the stuff out of our taps (and even garden hoses!) and that we used to drink when we were thirsty - and now it's to "hydrate." Then he goes on to say that Aqua Fina, Fiji and all of those other "designer" waters are really processed by some couple in Philadelphia filling the bottles from their bathtub. His show is too funny!!