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Thread: Pipe noises - please help

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member waxgroove's Avatar
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    Unhappy Pipe noises - please help

    Hi

    I'm loosing my mind over what I think is water hammer. I hope someone can help me out.

    I recently moved into a 10 year old townhouse. Original water heater (Bradford White) - I believe the house has copper pipes. I'm occasionally hearing a very short, sharp, metallic type sound like two pipes smacked together in the wall near the second floor bathroom (maybe one second long, thats it).

    My townhouse has 2 beds/bath on the second floor. While working in the spare room I've noticed sometimes I hear this sharp sound coming from the corner near the entrance to the bath. It is random, doesn't appear to be controlled by the washing machine, (I've done full loads (normally cold water to save money) and heard the sound during wash as well as didn't hear it during/afterwards), I can shutoff a faucet in the nearby bath quickly and don't hear it?

    It happens out of the blue, like last night before bed - no water running - toilets filling, etc. and I heard the noise. No appliances running that I know of.

    So my question is, if this is a pipe issue what can it be? What are some things I can do to pinpoint it - because I can't tell when it will happen nor if it's restricted near the bath area or originating from the PRV or water heater.

    I haven't measured the pressure in the lines - yet - that's on my to-do list.

    Can someone please make any suggestions? I'm ready to call a plumber as I don't want any broken pipes - I have no idea how long this has been happening (the previous owner couldn't change a lightbulb so sellers disclosure made no mention).

    Thanks - frustrated

    Last edited by Terry; 02-22-2009 at 09:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Townhouse?
    Maybe its your neighbors pipes.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member waxgroove's Avatar
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    Default Thanks - but . . .

    I thought about it being the neighbors (in a way I hope it isn't as I plan to fix this). The neighbors on that side are never home (vacation property).

    The townhouse on that side is also a rancher (1 story) as mine is 2 story. Essentially there is no house attached to my second floor.

    I didn't mention before that I'm getting a slight "thump" from the toilet near the bathroom in question (probably water hammer) and I'm having the shutoff value replaced.

    When I moved in the owner had all the toilets rebuilt as they were not working properly. Who knows what was done.

    Thanks for your quick response.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The thump from the toilet could be water hammer. Replacing the fill valve (not the shut-off) may resolve that. The Korky Quietfill valve seems to shut off smoother than the Fluidmaster versions, and that may help.

    Pipe noises with no water running can't be water hammer. But, it might be hard to know. Do you have either a humidifer on the furnace or an icemaker in the frig? Both of those could have a valve in them that closes fast enough to cause a hammer. The solution to that is to install a hammer arrestor near the valve. Use a proper one, not just a pipe t'ed off. The engineered versions contain a piston or a bladder that keeps the air pocket dry. Just a T with a tail on it starts out with air, but quickly that air gets absorbed into the water stream, and then it stops working since there's no place for that water to softly bounce off.

    Drain pipes can make clicking sounds, especially plastic ones. They expand and contract a fair amount with heat. Say, you drain the tub. That heats up the pipe - it expands, then once the pipe starts to cool off, it will then contract. If it goes through a hole or has a tight clamp, it will build up tension and then jump when the friction is overcome. This can lead to some seemingly random noises. These sound more like ticking sounds than a bang, though. If the hole is really tight and the run is long, it could jump a fair amount, though. The longer the run, the greater the expansion.
    Last edited by Terry; 11-01-2008 at 03:48 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member waxgroove's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks

    When the toilets were rebuilt all recieved new fill valves and supply lines. The supply lines looked short to me (bent tight at ends) so I reinstalled slightly longer ones.

    The bathroom in question (off the room with the offending noise) supply line was replaced as well and when I turned the water on there I got a fair amount of "shutter" in the line when turning on. I guess I figured the shut off may be one source of the problem.

    I didn't think about the fill valves as they are new.

    Could a high setting on the water heater have any effect? I've been visiting the furnace/water heater area to check and I noticed the water heater is set to one notch above hot (I'm guessing 130) probably the max.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me out.

    Mike

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Whenever the water is turned off to do some maintenance, the pipes can make some scarey noises when you turn it back on as air is purged from the system. But, once that is finished (and it won't purge all of the air until maybe each valve is individually opened), it should be quiet.

    The supply pipe/hose to the toilet should not be tight (well, if it is rigid, it would be!. If it is tight, find a longer one. I'm not sure about the newest version of Fluidmaster toilet filler valves, but the older ones could create hammer when they closed.

    Some would argue both ways regarding the setting of the WH thermostat. Running it hotter may make your DW work better (if it doesn't have the ability to heat water on its own). It also gives you more usable hot water as the tank is drained for normal uses (since you'd mix more cold water with it). ANd, it prevents most things from growing in the tank. But, it can be dangerous to young or old who have thinner skin.

    High water pressure can increase pipe noises. You should check yours. Also, check to see if the WH is discharging any water after you hear that noise. It doesn't take much to relieve pressure...the T&P valve may be tripping momentarily. If you have a PRV, and the expansion tank is shot, the PRV could make some noises, too, if it is getting old.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member waxgroove's Avatar
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    Default Thanks again

    Jim -

    Thanks for the help. I'm not seeing any water near the HW heater. I was planning to check pressure. Can these devises be used at a outside hose spiket?

    Dishwasher is new - the noise was noticable without it running so I don't think its the DW. I can't hear if the ice maker is collecting water as it is downstairs.

    After checking pressure I can shut off water to ice maker and wait for noise.

    Thanks again,

    Mike

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Some people put a pressure reduction valve after the pipe t's to the outside faucets, so if you have a prv, the house pressure verses the hose bib may differ. The gauges often come with the same fitting as a hose, so there, or say the washing machine, or the drain from the WH. If you buy adapters, you can screw it in nearly anywhere. The preference for type is the one that has a max pressure indicator. Water pressure often rises a lot at night when they try to refill the water towers and when demand decreases.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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