The Many Sounds of Plumbing and What They Mean

Plumber working on faucet

For the average homeowner, your plumbing is a mysterious thing. All of these pipes and drains and vents—where do they go? How do they work?

Why are they making that sound?

Plumbing, drainage, and water are serious business. They are essential to nearly every activity that happens in your home, from toilets and showers to kitchen sinks, hot water heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines. They run through walls, under floorboards, and above your ceiling, and they are in constant use. Properly functioning plumbing fades seamlessly into the everyday life of your home, but untreated problems can quickly lead to leaks, backups, or flooding, resulting in expensive repairs and an inconvenient mess.

As a house settles and ages, so does the plumbing, and continuous use can begin to take its toll on seams, joints, and transition points. This can lead to a variety of strange noises. Some are relatively harmless, but some can be the symptom of a much larger problem.

Our experienced plumbers at Suntech rarely meet a noise they can’t diagnose. We are committed to resolving the Oklahoma City metro area’s plumbing problems with fast, top-notch service.

Here are a few of the most common types of plumbing sounds we are asked about:

1) Hissing

A hissing sound from your faucet may be caused by too much water pressure in your pipes. We can assess the pressure in the pipes and install a pressure reducing valve if necessary.

2) Foghorn

A foghorn sound in your plumbing could be a number of things. It may be a faulty ballcock in the toilet, a loose faucet washer, or a valve in the washing machine. It may also be permeating your entire house, in which case it could be from loose or old pipes or a malfunctioning regulator.

First, identify where the sound is originating. A ballcock or washer is easy to replace, but more serious cases, especially for an older plumbing system or worn out valve, will require a licensed plumber.

3) Whistling, screeching, or squealing faucet or showerhead

The screech, whistle, or squeal from your faucet is most likely caused by a loose washer. The noise is made when fast-moving water makes the loose washer flap and vibrate. We can replace this washer quickly and easily and silence the screech.

4) Vibration

Plumbing pipes often run through walls, under floorboards, and above the ceiling, and can occasionally become loose and vibrate. Excessively high water pressure can also cause pipes to shudder and shake.

A more serious culprit may be the “water hammer” effect, which occurs when valves close too quickly, abruptly shutting off the water flow and causing it to stop in the pipe.

A loosened pipe simply needs to be reattached to the wall. If you suspect high water pressure, one of our plumbing professionals can test the water flow and install a pressure-reducing valve if necessary.

A “water hammer” sound—especially an increasingly loud one—can cause major damage to your pipes. Replacing toilet fill valves with ones that close more slowly can remedy the problem, as can the addition of an arrestor; we can take care of both of them.

5) Gurgling toilet

Gurgling noises from a running toilet are most likely caused by an old valve or malfunctioning ballcock, air in the pipes, or a drain venting problem. Gurgling noises when the toilet is not running, however, are a sign that your septic may be clogged or backed up.

Valves and ballcocks are easily replaced, but a potentially stopped up sewage line is a big problem. Call us immediately to prevent messy and costly backups.

6) Bubbling sink

A bubbling or gurgling from the sink may be an indication it is backing up. Food, grease, dirt, and hair can accumulate in the drains and pipes, preventing water from flowing freely through them and slowing it down. 

The technicians at Suntech Heat and Air can help identify where the backup is and how serious it is, and we can help clear it out so your sink stays silent.

7) Invisible rushing water sound

Even if you can’t see it, the sound of rushing water means it is running somewhere it probably shouldn’t, and it may only be a matter of time before you do see it in the form of rot, foundation cracks, or rusted pipes. A common cause of the rushing water sound is a broken pipe, such as beneath a sink or floor board, behind an appliance, in a wall, or even in the ceiling. 

8) Humming pipes

Humming pipes is often the symptom of high water pressure, which can damage your home’s plumbing over time. Problems with high water pressure are common in larger homes where the pressure regulator tries to overcompensate for low water pressure in the upper floors. 

If high water pressure is the culprit for your humming pipes, we can help regulate it to the proper range by resetting your pump or changing it out for another model, or adding an isolator to better stabilize it. 

9) Ticking water heater

A sudden change in water pressure is likely causing your ticking water heater, and can usually be quieted by finding the pressure-releasing valve and reducing the pressure level. If this doesn’t help, call in the pros from Suntech Heat and Air Plumbing Geothermal.

9) Popping and banging water heater

When sediment builds up in your hot water tank, it is common to hear a banging or popping noise. The heating element may be reacting to the alkali in the water, which is rich in several minerals and leads to rust. 

First, you’ll want to flush the tank out completely and start fresh with new water. Additionally, it might be time to replace the part of your unit called the anode rod which helps keep sediment and bacteria from building up. If the problem persists or is recurring it may be necessary for you to install filters or a water purification system to reduce the damage to your tank. 

9) Dishwasher grinding

There are a few issues with your dishwasher which could result in a grinding noise during a cycle. The most common reason is that there is a foreign object or collection of debris in the pump or chopper blade area. When you hear this noise, simply open the door to the dishwasher and let the steam and heat dissipate and pull out the bottom rack to inspect the area for anything that shouldn’t be in the area. 

If that doesn’t stop the grinding noise during the cycle, another cause for it could be that your dishwasher isn’t getting enough water. Check for clogged or otherwise blocked inlet valves. 

10) Washing machine buzzing 

A buzzing sound coming from your washing machine during a cycle could be caused by a few different things. One problem, which is rare, could be an electrical short. Another possible cause for buzzing noises could be an electrical relay that is failing. However, there is also the possibility that there is an electrical motor that is failing to engage. 

If any of these things are happening, turn off the power to your washing machine and call an appliance repair technician.

Silence Your Plumbing Sounds with Suntech Heat and Air Plumbing Geothermal

Don’t wait for a small problem to become a big one. If you are noticing any of these sounds—or have one not mentioned here—give the experts at Suntech Heat and Air Plumbing Geothermal a call today. We are always on call and pride ourselves on responding within 24 hours.

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Suntech Heat and Air
3724 East Second Street, Suite D
Edmond, OK 73034

Phone: (405) 348-9743