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Thread: Odd Noise Like Water Shutting Off

  1. #1

    Question Odd Noise Like Water Shutting Off

    For several weeks now I keep hearing odd sounds in my house multiple times in a day -- as if our sprinkler system is shutting off (except that our system isn't running and hasn't been running when I hear it). I thought I was going nuts until my husband heard it several times today. I've read about 'water hammer', but it doesn't seem to fit the description. Tonight he had taken a shower and I heard the sound 10+ minutes after he was done.

    We live in a one story house with conventional water mains under the streets in our development. I am wondering if it is a water company issue -- should we call them??

    We replaced the main pressure valve to our house a year ago (end of July 2005). Could this have anything to do with it??

    I hope someone can give me an idea or two -- I'd like to figure it out (or at least narrow it down) before calling out a plumber (or better yet, fixing it ourselves).

    Thanks
    jmcre8

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Need more info.

    Is it a banging, a tick tick tick, running water sound, ect.

    Does it happen when water is running, after a shower, anytime , what?
    Last edited by Cass; 07-03-2006 at 05:14 AM.

  3. #3
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Do you have copper or PVC pipes? How old is your water heater?

    Jason

  4. #4
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Could be a toilet leaking. Just before going to bed tonight, turn off all toilets at the stop valve down near the floor. Sleep well. If you don't hear the sound during the night, look in the toilet tanks in the morning and see if they're filled up to where they should be. If they aren't, they leak, and the sound you hear is in fact a water hammer generated when the internal toilet valve shuts off after refilling the tank. Leaky toilets are easy to fix -- most of the time.

    If you do hear the sound during the night, or the tanks are all still full, it's on to Plan B. I would first turn off the water heater, and then turn off the main supply valve to the house. The sound had better go away, in which case you know it's something to do with the plumbing inside the house, and it's on to Plan C. Plan C basically attempts to isolate the fixture(s) which are periodically running (and shutting off) water. You're on your own here.

    If the sound doesn't go away with the main valve shut off, it's on to Plan D. I don't have a Plan D right handy.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Probably a leaking toilet refilling periodically. Flush the toilet, remove the tank lid, and make a pencil mark inside the tank at the water level. Then check it in about 5 minutes. If the water is below your mark you have a tank leak and should replace the rubber flapper in the bottom of the tank.

  6. #6

    Question Or Could It Be Our Water Heater???

    It doesn't seem to be coming from the toilet and we don't seem to hear it at night ... but we will check this out as recommended.

    The sound is loud, like pressure in the line is stopping. It's the type of sound our sprinkler system occassionally makes when it quickly switches from one station to another -- but like I said, we have verified multiple times it isn't our sprinkler system.

    We have a Bradford White Hydrojet 'MI Defender series' water heater ... could the noise possibly be coming from when the tank finishes refilling? Is there any part on a water heater that could make this strange sound? It was installed in Feb. 2001, and the T&P valve has been replaced twice (Mar 2003 & Oct 2003).

    Thanks
    jmcre8
    Last edited by jmcre8; 07-03-2006 at 07:55 AM.

  7. #7
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    That would be one of the items to check when executing Plan C -- turn off the WH, shut off its supply valve, and see what happens. In fact, this will determine whether its a hot- or cold-water fixture that's causing the problem. A WH tank typically doesn't "refill" -- it's a continuous flow. As hot water is drawn by the fixture, cold water enters to refill the tank. It'll be the fixture drawing the hot water that's causing the hammer.

    Anything stopping the flow of water has the potential to create the water hammer. The faster the flow is stopped, the worse the hammer effect. The more water that has to be stopped, the worse the effect. Thus, an automatic valve (as opposed to a hand-turned faucet) shutting off a high-volume flow at the end of a long run of pipe is the worst offender. An automatic lawn sprinkler is an excellent example . My guess is that a hot-water fixture would be unlikely to be the cause.

  8. #8

    Question

    so if it's water hammer ... how do trace where it is coming from? our house was built in 1975 (San Francisco area) ... I think we have copper pipes.

    Today we are writing down times we use water -- then will write down when we hear noise and see if there is any correlation.

    We will try turing the water off too ... but I'm not clear if that will tell me exactly where or problem is so we can fix it.

    jmcre8

  9. #9
    Plumbing Contractor Bud1300's Avatar
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    Check the water pressure on the house and if you have a gas water heater the pressure incress at times and cause a banging noice.

  10. #10

    Question

    How does one check the water pressure going into the house? Can I do that or do I need a plumber to do that? YES, my hot water heater is gas -- and of course because I am listening for it I haven't yet heard the noice today (as of 12:20pm).

    Thanks
    jmcre8

  11. #11
    Plumbing Contractor Bud1300's Avatar
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    you test the pressure with a gauge on the front hose bibb the pressure.should be about 45 to 65 Psi they make a gauge just for this

  12. #12

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    I'm leaning towards the toilet as well, try dropping some food coloring in your toilet tank and watch, if your bowl starts to turn that color then you may have to replace your flapper.

  13. #13

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    One toilet is conventional, the other has one of those seal units. Red die indeed did come into the conventional toilet bowl. Will go purchase a flapper today.
    jmcre8

  14. #14

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    Thank you for the feedback we learn if the advice works as much as you do.

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Stop in a plumbing supply house or one of the big box stores and buy a $10 water pressure gauge. You can get one that has a hose connector on it. Just screw it onto a hose bib, turn the water on and check the pressure.

    You mentioned that you have replaced the T&P valve on the water heater twice...that is not normal. My guess is that you have NOT got an expansion tank in your system, and there is a check valve or a PRV in the system. The pipes can make some strange sounds after running some hot water, then the hot water tank comes back on to rewarm that water. If there isn't someplace for the water to expand to when it gets heated, the pressure can rise very high, dump a little bit out of the T&P and then equalize itself. This should be avoided, since one, it makes a mess around the T&P,and the excessive pressure stresses everything else in the house.

    So, check your pressure. It might not be high at the moment. Run a shower or take a bath. Then don't run any water until the hot water tank stops. Check the pressure again. My guess is that it will be high.

    SImple solution, if this is the case is to install or replace if there is one, the expansion tank near the inlet to the HWH.
    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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