Rattling, knocking, and/or vibrating pipes can make any homeowner wonder if the plumbing is about to burst through the walls. The good news is that most clattering, knocking, and pounding sounds are not signs of impending doom. But for the long-term health of your system, such noises should be checked to find the root cause.
Here are three reasons why your pipes may be vibrating.
Loose Pipe Clamps
Whenever you turn on a faucet, showerhead, or any appliance, the natural result will be an increase in water flow through your pipes to that outlet. If one of those pipes is not securely clamped, that surge can cause a vibration which may rattle the pipe against whatever solid surface is closest. Try inspecting all exposed pipework when the rattling or vibration is occurring, especially in basements, to make sure all pipes are properly clamped. Unfortunately, if the rattling pipe is behind a wall, you may need to cut away the wallboard to get it fixed.
High Water Pressure
High overall water pressure can cause pipe fittings to loosen because high pressure causes more serious vibrations. Most homes have a water pressure regulator installed close to where the main water line enters, usually in the basement. Make sure it’s set between 40 and 60 psi. Anything higher can stress pipes and their fittings as well as the internal components of fixtures and appliances.
If you can’t find your water pressure regulator or if you think it may not be working, consider purchasing a home water pressure gauge to check yourself, or call your local plumber. If water pressure is the root cause of the vibrations, a trusted plumber can introduce a pressure-reducing valve to mitigate the problem.
If the vibration of the pipes occurs after a sudden, banging sound, your system may be experiencing a hydraulic shock, commonly known as a water hammer. This is when fast-moving water crashes against a swiftly closed valve. The resulting pressure can make the pipes vibrate violently.
Home plumbing systems are generally installed with air chambers. Air chambers provide a pressure-release when water pressure surges, and mitigate the force of hammers. But over time they can fill with water and become less effective. One DIY solution is to shut off the water at the water main valve, then drain all the pipes by opening up all faucets and flushing toilets, from the top floor down. This allows the air chambers to fill with air once again. Once the pipes are all drained, turn the water main back on.
If a vibrating pipe seems to be behind a wall, if you need a new water pressure regulator, or if you’d like to install slow-shutting valves to avoid water hammer issues, call your trusted plumber who’ll take care of the problem efficiently and well.