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We Solve 5 Common Plumbing Noises: What They Mean and How to Repair Them

December 08, 2021

It's a good thing that your plumbing is reliable. When your plumbing is making noises or is loud, you might begin to worry. While some sounds are typical, others aren’t. We’ll walk you through five common noises and how to resolve them.

These noises include:

  • Plumbing is whistling
  • Plumbing is gurgling
  • Plumbing is humming
  • Plumbing is vibrating
  • Plumbing is bubbling

1. Plumbing is Whistling

If your plumbing is whistling, you could be dealing with several issues.

Cause: Mineral Buildup

More than 90% of U.S. homes have hard water, which means it has too much calcium and magnesium. These minerals can accumulate in your pipes and appliances, causing clogs and less efficient operation.

If you have issues with soap scum, clogged pipes or appliances wearing out quickly, you might have hard water. Having a plumber add a water softener is the best way to solve this problem.

Cause: Aging Pipes

Plumbing doesn’t last forever. If you have an older home, it’s important to know what pipe material you have and how long it lasts.

  • Brass: up to 100 years
  • Copper: up to 80 years
  • PVC: up to 45 years

If your pipes are near the end of their life span and you’re dealing with leaks, discolored water or low water pressure, it may be time to have new ones installed.

Cause: High Water Pressure

This can be caused by your water supplier or issues with your water heater. A telltale sign of high water pressure is hearing knocking in your pipes, especially after turning off a faucet.

If this is what’s causing the issue, a plumber can check and replace your home’s pressure-reducing valve as necessary.

2. Plumbing is Gurgling

Gurgling isn’t a good noise. It’s usually a symptom that you’re dealing with some sort of blockage or clog. Here are three of the most common types.

Cause: Clogged Drain

Your drain can either be partially or fully blocked. Here's the difference:

  • Partial clog—water drains more slowly than usual.
  • Full clog—water goes up instead of draining, especially in multiple drains.

It can be enticing to use a liquid drain opener to correct the issue, but this can create more problems. These products are harsh and can erode your pipes. It’s always recommended to have a plumber unclog your pipes, either via a snake or jetting.

Cause: Blocked Sewer Line

Your home has a sewer pipe that carries waste to the primary sewer line, usually situated in your yard or in the street. If this pipe gets clogged, you will likely be taking care of backup in your basement.

Things that can block or plug this pipe includes tree roots seeking water or by flushing bathroom products other than toilet paper. Whether you’re coping with tree roots or a clogged toilet, you’re going to need assistance from a professional plumber.

Cause: Plugged Sewer Vent or P-Trap

The sewer vent system and P-traps on your drains keep icky plumbing smells out of your home. If they get clogged, you’ll likely hear gurgling, encounter slow draining or smell sewage. A plumber can help you get to the root of and resolve this smelly problem.

3. Plumbing is Humming

If your plumbing is humming, you’re not just dealing with an annoying sound.

Cause: High Water Pressure

Humming means your home’s water pressure is likely too high. This can cause problems like water leaks and damage to faucets and other fixtures. A plumber can help you control water pressure, which should be about 60–70 PSI.

4. Plumbing is Vibrating

If your plumbing is vibrating, three problems could be causing this sound.

Cause: Loose Pipe Clamp

The most common trigger of vibrating plumbing is an unsecured pipe clamp. This hardware keeps pipes in place when water is running through them. If the loose pipe is under a sink, you might be able to correct this issue yourself. If it’s behind a wall, it’s recommended to work with a plumber.

Cause: High Water Pressure or Water Hammer

Less frequently, pipes can vibrate due to high water pressure or a water hammer, which happens when water that’s flowing fast runs into a closed valve. A plumber can identify and correct these problems.

5. Plumbing is Bubbling

If your plumbing is bubbling, you’re likely dealing with problems associated with gurgling plumbing.

Cause: Blocked or Incorrectly Vented Drain

Whether you’re dealing with a clogged or improperly vented drain, a plumber can fix it.

Discount Mechanical Heating & Plumbing Services Can Solve Your Odd Plumbing Sounds

No one wants to hear a loud or odd noise coming from their plumbing. There are many different noises that can be heard from your pipes and what they mean may differs. If you have any questions about the sounds you’re hearing in your home, give us a call at 907-202-9798 today. We’re here to help when you need a plumber in Anchorage or surrounding areas.