Strange Noises in Your Vacaville Home? Water Hammer, Running Toilets, Groaning Water Heaters, and What to Do About Them

water hammerWe learned in science class back in high school that human beings have five senses, but we tend to favor one of those five over all the others: sight. Still, any good plumber will tell you that your other senses are just as important. And when it comes to the pipes and water appliances in your home, your ears are more valuable than your eyes–they can often pick up on things that you can’t see.

That’s because from your water heater to the pipes in the walls, plumbing makes noise! Sometimes a lot, and sometimes a little. But which noises are normal, and which noises mean trouble? With a little bit of Bell Brothers education, we’ll have you diagnosing like a pro in no time!

Noises from the Toilet

We start with your toilet because one of the most common plumbing noises is the sound of the toilet running…and running…and running. Does your toilet run frequently? Does it ever shut off? The fix could be simple and very cheap–often it’s as easy to fix as installing a new flapper. Don’t live with a running toilet for months–not only is it likely driving you crazy, but it’s also costing you money on your water bill, the same as a faucet drip or faulty sprinkler.

We’ve had clients who were able to solve this problem themselves, and that’s great for them. That said, the way we see it it’s probably not worth risking the potential damage to save a few dollars on a licensed plumber. A toilet has a lot of water in it at any given time. If the spud gasket doesn’t seat right or the tank bolts don’t seal, a lot of that water will end up all over the floor. Pretty soon, the money you’re paying a plumber makes a whole lot of sense. Not only are they less likely to make mistakes, they’re also covered by insurance so they can fix any mistakes they might make without you paying a cent more! Furthermore, did you know that a toilet’s flush can be fine-tuned by a plumber? It’s true! Stop using excess water, or barely flushing the bowl, by having a pro fix your toilet so it works right every time.

A Noisy Water Heater

A running toilet may not grab your attention, but you can bet that a water heater will. These bad boys make noise when they’re not happy–and we’re not talking little squeaks or squawks. A ticked-off water heater will let you know, usually with loud groaning noises and vibration that can shake the whole house. One client said that she didn’t know what was wrong with her plumbing, but every time she ran hot water it sounded like the last minutes on board the Titanic!

Fortunately even the noisiest water heaters usually aren’t as bad off as they seem. Don’t bust out the life rafts, but do call a plumber. Noise is often a symptom of sediment buildup in the heater, a problem that can be taken care of by a professional as long as it hasn’t progressed too far. If it’s allowed to continue, water heater damage will become permanent, wrecking a costly heater and opening you up to potential property damage as well as a whole host of safety issues.

Water Hammer Behind the Walls

Ah, the old “water hammer” when you turn on the taps: we’ve had clients so used to this that they knew when water was being run anywhere in the house! They’d lived with it for years, never imagining that there could be a real problem with the pipes! It’s more common in older houses than in new ones, but water hammer can occur anywhere.

These noises are the result of the pipes being allowed to resonate at just the right frequency to produce the hammering sound you hear. Water runs through the pipes and causes them to vibrate, sort of like plucking a guitar string.  It’s eerie (and kind of cool scientifically) but pipes are not supposed to vibrate like that!

The problem itself is often small and hard to diagnose. Usually some piece of equipment isn’t functioning well or a fitting has loosened and allowed the pipes to resonate just right. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, there are still reasons to get this fixed ASAP–especially because pipes may work free of their fittings and eventually leak or damage other parts of the house.

Don’t Get Used to It

Noises are your plumbing’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If ignored, serious plumbing damage can occur and you may lose a lot of money when that happens. Often these noises are easy to fix early on, but the longer you go the more extensive the damage usually is. So take our advice: don’t get used to it. Especially if you call Bell Brothers–because once you do those noises aren’t long for this world!