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Thread: Groaning Pipes - Can't stop the noise!

  1. #1
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    Default Groaning Pipes - Can't stop the noise!

    Some background, house is 15 years old, original water heater, and copper pipes. Water pressure coming into house is about 150psi(thanks Atlanta for the massive water pressure) with a water pressure regulator(WATTS N55B M1 - preset at 50 psi) first thing as water main enters house. I replaced this pressure regulator as we were having an issue with water flow in the house. Basically, when water hasn't been turned on for a while, and you turn it on, you get a big rush of water, then it backs down to normal flow. So, like I said I replaced pressure regulator thinking it was not working right(read that those have a life span of 15-20 years) so easy enough to replace with union joints on either side. I drained all the water out of our house to do this, since I didn't want water dumping out on me when I replaced the regulator. Anyhoo, I opened all the hot and cold water in the house, including washing machine and propped open flappers on toilet and slowly turned on water to house. Then I slowly, closed faucets working from the bottom of the house, thinking that is what you do to avoid having a bunch of air in your water pipes.

    But, now when ever we turn water on(hot or cold) certain faucets, or washing machine or dishwasher comes on, quite often we hear this loud groaning in the pipes. To me it sounds like some kind of water restriction, but dunno. If you hear the groaning noise, you can make ti go away by turning on another faucet, but that's a bad fix according to my wife. :-)

    So, how do I get rid of groaning pipes? Not water hammer, so must be air in pipes or something else going on I guess.
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  2. #2
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    Oh, and still get that large rush of water when you turn on faucet and no water has been turned on in a while. Like I said, rush of water for a couple seconds then regular water flow.
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    You should start by making sure the pipe is anchored down properly throughout the system.

    The initial rush of water is on the hot side only, or both?

  4. #4
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    We notice the rush of water turning on master shower. I replaced the cartridge in the valve thinking maybe it had some issue. It is Moen posi-temp. The rush of water thing doesn't bothe rme so much as the groaning pipes, or maybe vibrating pipes is more accurate? I will look at the strapping, but why did the vibrating/groaning become an issue only after draining water from house and turning water back on?
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    This could be "thermal expansion." Much has been written on this site, including a very recent thread about using thermal expansion tanks vs other means of correcting the problem. Do a search on "thermal expansion," check your water pressure after the water heater has heated a batch of cold water, and if too high, install an expansion tank.

  6. #6
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    interesting about the thermal expansion tank. My neigbor just got a water heater with one of those expansion tanks. Actually several neighbors have gotten new water heaters.
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    It is interesting how expansion tanks are becoming more "popular" in the midwest as people discover the thermal expansion problem. When I learned about it 6 or 7 years ago, seemed like no one in my town was too concerned about it. Putting in a tank, though, really helped in our house.

    I had the "groaning pipe" problem in my old house. It had a pressure-reducing valve but no expansion tank. I remember hearing the pipes make eerie noises at night that would go away instantly if we opened a faucet.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    The best thermal expansion tank is a 100' garden hose left "on" with a shut off valve on the end all year long.

    When it freezes, let it spray a bit all night and make a nice sculpture, and then use it to defrost your windshield in the AM.

    be sure its down side of the PRV.
    I might ask what kind of crack you're smoking...talk about a bunch of stagnet water. A properly setup expansion tank purges itself each heating cycle after you then use some water in the system. Many garden hoses also say 'not for potable water use', too.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    Noticed some groaning even while flushing toilet, so obviously not only hot water supply. Does this mean it isn't a thermal expansion issue? I thought of one other thing, while shutting off water to replace the PRV and shower cartridge, noticed that the gate valve shutoff for shutting off water to the house doesn't work any longer. I turned it pretty hard but still water was flowing a little, so had to shut off water at the meter outside. I wonder if that broken gate valve is causing water restriction and groaning in pipes? ugh, I probably just need to call a plumber and have him come look at this.
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Yes, you may very well be right about the gate valve. Those are notorius for breaking, and if it is partially closed, you could get some strange noises. Would be good to replace that old valve with a ball valve.

  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoofusOfTheDay View Post
    Noticed some groaning even while flushing toilet, so obviously not only hot water supply. Does this mean it isn't a thermal expansion issue? I thought of one other thing, while shutting off water to replace the PRV and shower cartridge, noticed that the gate valve shutoff for shutting off water to the house doesn't work any longer. I turned it pretty hard but still water was flowing a little, so had to shut off water at the meter outside. I wonder if that broken gate valve is causing water restriction and groaning in pipes? ugh, I probably just need to call a plumber and have him come look at this.
    Thermal expansion pressurizes the entire water system, hot and cold distribution, so yes, it still could be thermal expansion. Opening any valve and releasing a little water will relieve that excess pressure by discharging some water and letting whatever was stretched to accomodate it return back to (hopefully) normal. Groaning WHILE running water is not a result of thermal expansion. Groaning that STOPS when you open a valve could be.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  12. #12
    DIY Member DoofusOfTheDay's Avatar
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    Only get the groaning when water turned on, and not consistent amongst all faucets, showers, etc. If you open some more water sources while groaning, then it goes away.
    Cheers,

    Gregg

  13. #13
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    To work, the valve to the house must remain open, which means that when you open any other valve in the house, that excess water stored in the hose now pushes back into the house - depending on the size of the WH, and the amount heated, that could be a half-gallon or so. MOST hoses are NOT rated to store or be used to supply potable water (they are available for things like feeding a trailer). Yes, I did understand what you said, and it is just plain poor advice. The bladder and components of an expansion tank are rated for potable water use, and are designed specifically for this problem.
    Last edited by jadnashua; 12-23-2010 at 01:07 PM.
    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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    George the Plumber Gsalet's Avatar
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    I would suggest getting a pressure gauge with a lazy hand and see if you have a actual surge in pressure. The groan could be coming from a bad washer or rubber stop in any one of your fixtures. I would shut everything off at the stops including the toilets and showers, then run the water and try and duplicate the groan. if the groan is still there you have eliminated those fixtures. if the groan is gone try opening one fixture at a time in-till you find the groaning fixture. Best guess bad Pressure reducing valve

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    PRV's can and do make some weird noises when the seals start to go or you don't make provisions for water expansion. Toilet fill valves are also known culprits. It can be difficult to find sometimes.
    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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