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 afterwards not being able 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 obviously jump to:  there is an ax-murderer downstairs.  It would have been silly of me to think:  oh, those are probably just the pipes.  I am assuming you can figure out what the noise really was.  Hint.  I am still alive.

Pipes do make noises.  I have lived in an apartment with steam heat and woken up thinking there is somebody 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 banging”  by 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, its got to be banging or noisy pipes. That’s especially true this time of year when heating and plumbing systems are operating together. The combination can sometimes cause your house to sound like it’s haunted!

The first thing you need to remember is that there’s no such thing as a completely 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 its being heated by powerful burners or electrical elements. So its bound to make some noise from time to time.

However, some banging noises like “water hammer” and “pipe expansion” noises 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 can identify a noisy pipe problem, you may be able to do something to quiet it down a little and, in turn, sleep a little better as well.

No. 5: Broken valves or faucets:

If you turn on a valve or faucet and hear a “klunk” 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 actually 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 has to be opened up, cleaned out 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! It is very important that the water level in a steam boiler is kept at the correct level. Too much water added to a steam boiler may actually 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:

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

No. 2: Loose pipes:

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

No 1: High water pressure:

This is by far the No. 1 reason for noisy water pipes, or water hammer as the noise often is called. Normal home water pressure is usually in the 40- to 70-psi range. Any home with a water pressure of 80 psi or higher needs to 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 pinpoint your problem and finally get your mind off those annoying noises. If not, I’ve also found that raising the volume on your TV set works well, too.

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 the pipes of your home, please contact Flame!

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