Improper Plumbing: Why Are My Pipes Groaning, Moaning, and Whining?

why are my pipes groaningA good friend of mine is an animal lover and she’s always adopting strays of all shapes, sizes, and ages from our local shelter. She’s a genius when it comes to caring for dogs in particular—especially the ones that need the most love and affection.

Recently, she was telling me about what it’s like to take new animals into her home. The key to determining what a rescue dog is in need of, she claims, is to listen carefully to the noises it’s making. Little whimpers and yelps are a really good indication that the dog needs a bit of help in the form of food, medicine, or a good cuddle.

Like always, this got me thinking about plumbing. In a lot of ways, the pipes in your home can be similar to my friend’s furry little creatures in that they’ll make some pretty distinctive sounds when they’re in trouble. In fact, a question I get asked by clients all the time is, “Why are my pipes groaning, moaning, and whining?” So if your pipes are crying out for help, I’m going to walk you through what these sounds could indicate—and what needs to be done to make them quiet down.

Chatty Plumbing: Why Are My Pipes Groaning, Moaning, and Whining?

It’s kind of funny to think about pipes making groaning, moaning, and whining sounds, but let me tell ya, it’s no laughing matter. In fact, when your pipes are making funky sounds it means there is something going on with your plumbing that really needs your attention. Luckily, I am fluent in speaking and interpreting the language of pipes; after decades in the plumbing business, I can usually get a good read on what’s going on just by listening carefully.

why are my pipes groaning and moaning?Here are the common problems that could be causing your pipes to groan, moan, and whine:

  • Your water pressure is too high: A loud tuba-like sound can indicate that your water supply is putting a ton of pressure on your pipes. While this isn’t usually a super serious problem in the short term, it can lead to water leaks, pipe damage, and, of course, wasted water if it’s ignored. If your water pressure is set to over 80 psi (pounds per square inch) you’ll start to hear it. You can do a water pressure test if you are feeling particularly handy. Ideally, you should get a reading between 40 and 60 psi. If the high pressure is coming from the street supply, however, your plumber will have to install a pressure moderator to decrease the noise and mitigate potential damage to your plumbing system.
  • Your toilet fill valve is faulty: When the fill valve on your toilet isn’t functioning as it should, you’ll often hear a distinct moan coming from the pipes in the bathroom. To find out if this is the problem, try turning off the water supply to each of the toilets in your home. Then, one by one, turn them back on until the noise starts up again. Once you’ve identified the toilet with the faulty fill valve, the fill valve assembly will need to be replaced. Making sure this is done properly by plumbing professional is very important in preventing water leakage and further problems with your toilet.
  • There’s air in your pipes: If your pipes make a funny moaning or whining sound when you turn on a faucet, it could mean that there is air caught in your pipes. If this is the case, something is up with your bleed-off system. I don’t normally recommend trying to remedy this yourself. Have a plumbing professional out to bleed the air out of your pipes. The sound should go away if that was indeed the cause of the problem.
  • There’s a blockage in your pipes: This is probably the most serious problem of the bunch as a blocked pipe can easily lead to a burst pipe and significant water damage. If the groaning, moaning, or whining sound is accompanied by a toilet that backs up on occasion, slow draining sinks and tubs, and foul smells coming from your drains, a blockage is likely. My advice? Call a local plumber immediately.

The Importance of Calling a Professional Plumber

The key to addressing and fixing the above plumbing problems quickly and effectively is being able to properly diagnose the issue. And since each of the above problems can sound very similar to the untrained ear, it’s best to call a plumbing professional to come assess the situation. Not only do plumbing professionals know how to listen for clues pointing to the real issue, they have the right equipment to really find out what is going on with your plumbing. In most cases, they will do a complete video inspection so that they can get an inside look at your pipes and give an accurate diagnosis. Without an accurate diagnosis, you run the risk of wasting a lot of time and money trying to figure things out yourself.

I always caution homeowners against doing any plumbing work on their own because I’ve seen a lot of DIY plumbing mishaps that end up costing more to fix than the original problem would have. Plus, even if you more or less know the basics of plumbing, you certainly wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of bleeding the pipes, testing the water pressure, and fixing the toilet fill valve only to have the problem be a clogged pipe that’s ready to burst.

Of course, whenever I go out on a plumbing job, I always tell my clients to have regular plumbing and sewer inspections done as well, as these can effectively prevent a number of problems before they cause your pipes to groan, moan, and whine—just like taking my friend’s furry little rescue dogs to the vet can prevent a lot of needless whimpering and yelping.

At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would be thrilled to come have a look at your pipes and assess what’s causing them to groan, moan, and whine. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Wondering how to finance new plumbing—or even a furnace or window upgrade? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy Unsplash user Dan Watson