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Noisy Pipes Waking You Up?

I refuse to watch scary movies. I used to try and suffer through them when I had friends who liked them or thought they would be funny to laugh at. All my laughs were fake. I would go home afterward, unable to stop thinking about them. Whenever I am sleeping alone in my house, my mind brings back minute details of these movies, and I spend the evening with a hockey stick placed next to my bed. My fears were only intensified when I would hear noises in my home. Of course, my rational brain would jump to:  there is an ax-murderer downstairs. It would have been silly of me to think: those are probably just the pipes. I am assuming you can figure out what the noise was. Hint: I am still alive.

Pipes do make noises. I have lived in an apartment with steam heat and woken up thinking somebody was pounding a hammer against them. I got used to that and did not jump in fear every time that happened, but pipe noises are still a nuisance. I decided to do some outside research and read a great article which I will post below.

“Top 5 reasons your pipes may be bangingby Ed Del Grande (HGTVPro.com, found in the Evansville Courier & Press)

If there is one topic that comes up over and over whenever people talk to me about home repair problems, it’s got to be banging or noisy pipes. That’s especially true when heating and plumbing systems operate together this year. The combination can sometimes cause your house to sound like it’s haunted!

Remember that there’s no utterly silent heating or plumbing system. Sorry, but that’s the nature of the beast. Contained water under pressure flows in, out, and through your house like a river, and half the time, it’s being heated by powerful burners or electrical elements. So it’s bound to make some noise from time to time.

However, banging noises like “water hammer” and “pipe expansion” can be controlled. So I’ve made my “Ed’s Top 5 noisy pipe list” to help you identify problems with your heating and plumbing systems. Once you locate a noisy pipe problem, you may be able to do something to quiet it down a little and, in turn, sleep a little better.

No. 5: Broken valves or faucets:

If you turn on a valve or faucet and hear a “clunk” followed by a restricted flow of water from the faucet or valve, you may have a washer or some packing material that has broken off and is trapped behind the faucet or valve opening. To fix this type of problem, the water main is usually shut down, and the faucet or valve must be opened up, cleaned, and rebuilt.

No. 4: Steam heating system pipe banging:

Steam heat has a bad reputation for, on occasion, sounding like a football player banging your pipes with a sledgehammer! The water level in a steam boiler must be kept at the correct level. Too much water added to a steam boiler may flood the steam pipes, causing all that banging. Have a licensed technician drain the steam pipes, set the radiators, and show you the proper water level for your system. If maintained properly, your steam system should be a lot quieter.

No. 3: Forced hot water heating system noises:

A forced water heater can develop the opposite problem. Forced hot water pipes are typically filled with water; sometimes, they may get “air bound,” causing a lot of gurgling and banging. In this case, the licensed technician will “purge” the air system and adjust the water temperature to reduce the expansion noises the system may make if the pipes are over-expanding inside the walls.

No. 2: Loose pipes:

A prevalent cause of banging noises is loose pipes that dangle from ceilings or walls. Get some well-insulated pipe clips and safely anchor the pipes to joists or studs without stressing the lines. A pipe that’s well-supported with insulating clips or hangers should be quieter.

No 1: High water pressure:

This is the No. 1 reason for noisy water pipes or water hammers, as the noise often is called. Typical home water pressure is usually in the 40- to 70-psi range. Any home with a water pressure of 80 psi or higher must have a plumber install a pressure reducer valve on the water main. They also may need water hammer arrestors installed as well. Between the two types of controls, most pipe-banging noises can be controlled.

That’s my list of the Top 5 pipe noise issues. Hopefully, by using the list as a guide, you’ll be able to pinpoint your problem and, finally, get your mind off those annoying noises. If not, I’ve also found that raising your TV set’s volume works well.

FLAME can help with noise problems involving forced air heat or plumbing. If you are waking up to the sounds of somebody playing a cowbell inside your home’s pipes, please contact FLAME!

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