Causes of Pipe Banging & Noises with No Water Running (How to Fix)


Questions and Ideas

Plumbing problems are big headaches for homeowners. They come uninvited to our homes leaving us panting about looking for solutions.

A common example is an unfriendly noise made by water pipes.

Your water pipes should run silently whether in use, or when you turn on your tap or not. When this is neither the case, and your water pipes begin to creak, squeak, vibrate or buck against the frames that are used to hold them in place, then it is time to check them out.

So why do water pipes make noise?

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With regards to pipes with no water running through them; the common cause of noises is due to the existence of objects or animals roaming through the pipes, especially rodents.

Loose pipes, rusted pipe joints, and poorly tightened pipes do make noises as well when moved by vibration. Hence, if by chance your pipes are old and lasted long; chances are the causes of the noises are from the above. 

For pipes with running water, the straining and irritating noise can be linked to a rise in water pressure. If it squeals like a mouse caught in a trap then it could be the flow of water through the pipes has been changed.

If you opted to install metal pipes instead of PVCs, or if they have been pre-installed, it can also be as a result of expansion caused by hot water.

Is it a tapping noise instead? Those could be caused by a leak in the body of your water pipes.

Some of these reasons are why you are constantly being nagged by irritating noises from your pipes.

Let’s take a more intent look at some of these causes, what they are, how they got there, and their suitable solutions.

Common Causes of Noise Vibration Problems in Water Pipes With or Without Water

As long as your water drains properly and toilets flush without soiling the floor, it is all good right? We all love that.

But when it is the other way round, skins will crawl. You hear strange noises, incessant taps, and even loud bangs that sound like explosions.

What really causes your water pipes to behave that way?

Below are some of the elements that make your pipes vibrate and make relentless stinging sharp piercing noises, even in the middle of the night when you just grabbed a cup of water from your sink.

Water Hammers, Loud Bangs, or Hammering Pipe Noises

Pipe banging incessantly, or jamming hard against frames can leave you completely jolted in shock.

Water hammers are the most common kind of weird noises associated with water pipe problems – if they aren’t even the weirdest.

These usually happen when, at high pressure, water is shut off quickly and has nowhere to run to. Because of this action, pipes are forced to make loud bangs or hammers.

Simply put: water rushing through your pipes off your faucet is pushed at a high speed and force. When water is shut off, retraction happens. A lot of energy is released during this retraction. This energy needs to be dumped somewhere.

Normally, behind the wall holding the pipes that carry water to your faucet, there is an air chamber within the pipes.

When this retraction happens, water rushing back goes through the vertical pipe and hits the air in the air chamber. In turn, cushioning the force prevents your pipes from hammering against your walls.

Water hammering or hammers eventually happen when the air in that vertical chamber is lost. This can happen over the years.

Since there is no air cushion to soften the force of the water rushing backward, your pipes then make a rattling or banging noise. 

Loose Piping

Noisy water pipes are usually a result of slacked plumbing. When water is pumped through a well pump, they move with such great speed, which is why you have water in your faucets in a matter of seconds.

Due to this, when pipes are loosely fitted against frames that are meant to hold them tightly in place, they will vibrate or bang up against these frames. This turns out to be the noise you hear all the time.

Furthermore, these loud bangs against the hard frame can cause leaks in the pipe which can lead to loss of water and corroding of pipes if you are using galvanized or alloyed pipes.

Damaged Washer

Washers are of different types and textures. Commonly used washers in rotating appliances like your washing machine are usually made from fiber and rubber.

Washers, which are also used in taps, valves, or faucets, help to seal against any form of leaks.

Over time, they can get worn out or damaged. When this happens water begins to escape through the leaks. It is usually accompanied by a whistling or squealing sound. The source of this squealing can be traced to the valves that connect to your tap or washing machine.

Bad Main Shut Off Valve

Another source of the squealing problem could be your home’s main shut-off valve. This valve is in charge of distributing water to the entire house. It is the ultimate water switch.

When pipe noises resonate all around your home, it could be a result of the main shut-off valve. On some other occasions, it may be your pressure regulator.

Damaged Ballcock Assembly

Water pipes, draining pipes to and from your taps or faucet are not the only pipes that make noise. Oftentimes, this can come from your toilet when you pull the lever and flush.

The gurgling noise you hear after flushing is due to a damaged ballcock. The ballcock assembly controls the filling process of your toilet. 

The banging and rattling you hear at the end of every flush is a strong indicator that the ballcock assembly just took a hit.

Excessive Water Pressure

When your water is running at a higher pressure than recommended, it could be another reason why your pipes are bucking and making sharp noises.

If you are unsure this could be the cause, get a threaded water gauge. If you don’t have one, you can purchase it for a cheap at any home improvement store or any plumbing store.

Screw the pressure gauge to any sink faucet. Once turned on, check the gauge to see at what pressure your water is running.

If the pressure is above 75 psi, it is considered dangerous, and this could probably be the cause of the annoying vibrations and noises.

Dirty or Worn-Out Aerators

Whistling and squealing in pipes are often common because the flow of water has been altered.

If this squealing noise only comes from one faucet or tap, especially when that faucet is run, it could be that the aerator or filter screen inside the faucet itself, has taken a pulp or is blocked.

On the other hand, it could just be a worn-out washer as explained above. If the noise seems to ring throughout your house, it could be because your pipes have been clogged with mineral deposits, or your main shut-off valve has developed a fault as explained earlier.

Poorly Insulated Pipes

Squeaky noises in water pipes are scary and unbearable if your pipes are hidden inside your walls. It is a common complaint by homeowners.

So why are your pipes playing a horrible tune? Quite simple: it is hard to see what’s going in there.

However, when squeaky noises from water pipes and drains filter into your home space and swallow up all the serenity of your home, especially at night, these signs could be triggered by copper pipes. That is, if your house is using one.

If this is the case, then the copper pipes were not properly insulated.

The leading trigger for this action, though, isn’t that your copper pipes were not properly insulated. It is the growing bulge on these pipes when hot water is channeled through them.

When hot water flows through metal pipes that are poorly insulated, they expand and hit the wall, making the squeaky sounds that you hear from inside your wall.

Ticking Pipe Noises

Regular taps, ticking-tucking. However it sounds, it just keeps repeating itself like a loop, bothering you and you have even lost count.

That disturbing and irritating noise is sometimes caused by leaks in your water pipes.

Can Noisy Pipes Cause Any Damage? Are They Serious?

As a matter of fact, yes and yes. Water hammering, squeals, ticking noises, etc. can cause enough damage if they are not treated quickly.

If the pipes are within your walls, they could damage your wall, especially when they cause leaks. These leaks could cause condensation in walls which can lead to the growth of mold patches on your wall.

Mold, according to health professionals, is one of the major causes of respiratory problems in homes where they are present; they could even lead to structural issues.

Water hammers pose even greater threats. If ignored, you risk blowing the seals and washers (gaskets) in your water pipes. Meters and gauges tend to be destroyed.

All of these, together with the health issues linked with leaking pipes, mean loads of expenses on your end.

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Solving Noisy Problems in Water Pipes

Noisy pipes are dreadful. On the back of that noise is a looming disaster eager to be set free to cause as much wreckage as possible if repairs are delayed.

As a homeowner, we advise that you make quick fixes to your pipes when you hear any of the noises we have identified above.

Below are simple ways to solve them just in time.

Loose Piping

The fix depends on how your house has been set up.

If the pipes are hidden under a bed of wood, crawl under with a torch then ask someone to turn on the tap or flush the toilet when beneath.

If it’s hidden in your ceiling, open the ceiling board. The turned-on tap or flushed toilet is to help spot which of the pipes are bucking.

Just listening and keeping a keen eye on the pipes should help you spot the problem right away. If they are adjustable, put them fitly in place.

When dealing with loose pipes, there are typical requirements for basic tools, which you can get from nearby shops based on recommendations for your plumber.

Damaged Washers or Gaskets

If your washing machine or taps makes a squealing noise when turned on, it could be because its washer’s worn out.

To fix this, shut off the valve first. Check the washer in the hose. If it appears worn out or damaged, replace it.

If the washer in the hose looks okay, it could be the tap or faucet. First, shut off the water from the main valve, then have the tap replaced or repaired.

Worn-out Ballcock Assembly

Depending on the style of the ballcock assembly, if it is repairable, then have it repaired by a professional plumber. If it isn’t, replace it.

Weakened or Rusted Joints

Tracing the noise to its source is known to be done, however, for weakened or rusted joints, a total operation for the replacements of the rusted parts should be practiced.

It requires skill that goes into cutting the pipes at the right length, inserting the coupler, and installing it firmly. Therefore, it’s recommended that you hire a professional for the job. 

Water Hammers

When air is lost in the vertical riser pipe, water hammers are very likely to happen.

You can use commercial air arrestors which serve the same functions as air chambers in the vertical pipes. Have them attached to the pipes. 

Or, shut off the main water valve. Turn on all the taps in your house to drain the house completely.

Once done, fill the house later with water. Air will be pushed to the risers again after these preventing further bouts of water hammering.

In addition, reducing the water pressure in your home can help bring down the force of water retraction when you shut off the water so quickly.

High Water Pressure

Install a pressure regulator to prevent your water pressure from spiking which can lead to different pipe noises. Use the pressure regulators to adjust the pressure to a suitable number preferably between 40-60 psi. 

Squeaky Noise

This could be caused by clogs like minerals that have accumulated over time in the pipes. Contact a professional plumber to have your pipes assessed.

If it happens to be coming from the faucets or taps in your home, have them replaced immediately.

Rodents

Install screens, preferably the ones that allow for small sediments to pass through but avoid the entry of any rodent. Recommended sizes for the screen can be prescribed from your nearby store or your professional plumber.

To End

In conclusion, noises in your pipes are caused by a number of factors. The most common one, water hammer, is often caused by lack of air. Other reasons include leaks, poor insulation, etc.

For this reason, it is important to have these noises fixed immediately. This is to prevent further damage that could cripple your entire plumbing structure. It’s also to curb any breakout of diseases. Finally, it will save you from excessive and painful spending as well.

If you find it difficult to fix these problems by yourself, we advise that you call a professional plumber.

Joe Taylor

Over 2 decades of remodeling experience, Joe is an expert in home improvement. He is now the Managing Editor of PlumbJoe where he writes guides for homeowners. His hobbies include climbing, running and playing the piano.

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