Learn how to stop noise from water pipes. Find out how many noises are caused by the water hammer and a leaky flush valve.
LESLIE: Chester in Arkansas listens to The Money Pit on KFPW. And you’ve got some sounds from the water pipes . Describe them.
CHESTER: Well, sounds like I got a miniature tugboat in my pipes or something. I heard the …
TOM: A tugboat in your pipes? (chuckling)
CHESTER: That’s what it sounds like (INAUDIBLE) …
LESLIE: So it’s more like a (horn sound).
TOM: Kind of a haunted sound, ay?
CHESTER: Yes, sir. It’s like I would hear something like my toilet would make a sound like it was releasing water. And then all of a sudden I have – I have make a – it makes a loud noise in my pipes .
TOM: Now, does this happen, you know, just periodically or does it always happen when you flush the toilet or when?
CHESTER: No, it just like – it’d be – nobody could be in the bathroom; it’ll just …
TOM: Here’s what’s happening. First of all – there’s two things going on here, Chester. First of all, you have a leaky flush valve . The valve – the flapper – at the bottom of the toilet is letting water out of the tank.
LESLIE: Is that like a phantom flushing?
TOM: Yeah, it’s like ghost flushing . So what happens is as the water leaks out of this flapper valve, the float senses that it’s – it needs more water. So it’s as – it’s as if you flushed the toilet. The float comes up and tells the water valve to come on and then it lets water in. That’s the first thing that’s happening. So you have to replace the flapper valve. It’s like two or three bucks to do this. It’s inexpensive. You can buy a new toilet rebuild kit with a flush valve and a fill valve at any home center.
The second thing that you mentioned – the banging of the pipes – that’s called water hammer.  And the reason that happens – and it would happen with any fixture that you’re running; it just so happens it’s happening in this toilet. There may be a loose pipe in the wall – as water runs in through the pipes to get to the tank to fill it back up at the toilet, then all of a sudden the fill valve, having received enough water, shuts off instantly. The water has a certain level of centrifugal force and it keeps going down the pipes and it doesn’t want to stop. So if the pipes are loose, it kind of bangs the pipes a little bit.
So that’s what’s happening. It’s not really a mystery. It’s just a combination of those two things. And I think that if you replace the fill and the flush valve, that’ll stop the one situation. The banging pipes – just something you have to get used to. It doesn’t really cause any kind of damage or mechanical damage to the plumbing system. It’s just more of an annoyance. If you can ever open the wall and expose the pipes, you could tighten them up by putting additional pipe clamps against the framing. But certainly worth taking the walls down to do that.
Chester, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.