Plumbing Pipes

Plumbing Sounds

Although not all building’s plumbing systems make noticeable sounds, everyone has heard them before. Though these annoying sounds can come from anyone’s home, they’re more likely to occur from older homes. On this post, we’re going to dive into some of the more common plumbing sounds, some reasons as to why they occur, and if they have the potential to cause issues.


We’ve all heard it before. When someone flushes a toilet, or a washing machine stops, there are banging sounds. This sound is called a “water hammer”.

The Cause: This occurs due to water moving in the pipes, then suddenly stopping. Because of the sudden stop of water at the end of the rest of the pipe, the water behind it will continue moving, and smash into the stopped water. Because of the sudden stop of water, a shock wave will be sent through the pipe.

This sound is something that you don’t want to hear, as it can destroy your pipes. Luckily, installing a dead-end piece of pipe that’s normally filled with air works really well at preventing the water hammer effect. These dead-end pipes allow the moving water to have somewhere to go, while gradually slowing down.

Water hammer is such a common effect without a place for the water to go that many washing machine manufacturers recommend that a dead-end air chamber be installed to keep it from occurring.


These sounds aren’t as common, but are sometimes heard.

The Cause: Clicking sounds are usually traced back to one of two different things. These include relays clicking, and pipes expanding slightly due to thermal expansion.

Relays are an electrical component used to turn something on and off electrically. These can be found on pumps for water tanks, hot tubs, pools, and other assorted fixtures that turn on and off automatically. Hearing a relay “click”, just means that it’s doing its job properly, switching on and off.

Thermal expansion is caused by the temperature of the water in a pipe changing. This temperature is transferred to the pipe, which slightly expands when it gets hot.

Normally, clicking sounds are normal, and nothing to worry about.


Gurgling can be caused by many different things, and we’ll cover a few of the causes below.

The Cause: Gurgling, “Glug Glug”, or bubbling sounds are usually related to water draining. This is commonly heard due to an issue with the vents on the plumbing system, causing air bubbles to percolate up through the water in your pipes. Private well systems can have these sounds due to water pumps pulling in air. This is an issue because usually there’s either a hole in the pipe, and the pump is sucking in air, or the well’s water level is low.

No matter what the cause of the gurgling is, it should be checked out by someone experienced, as this sound can indicate some serious issues.

Rattling & Shaking

Rattling is the most common sounds to hear. Usually, this is a simple fix that doesn’t take too long to diagnose and fix.

The Cause: Rattling and shaking is almost always caused by loose pipe straps. Pipe straps hold the pipes to boards in your walls (such as studs). The purpose of these straps is to hold the pipe firmly, so that it doesn’t move or bang against anything. This isn’t always the issue, as water pressure that’s too high could also be the issue.

These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored, and should be immediately checked on. Ignoring this issue could lead to a pipe bursting, and leaking water into your residence. Although it’s usually caused by pipe straps that are loose, it could be a sign of a much more serious issue.

Hissing and Whining

If your system is hissing or whining, you should get someone to check why immediately.

The Cause: This can be caused by water pressure being too high, causing resonant sounds coming from the pressure difference in the supply piping to your home system’s piping. A water or air leak can also cause this (think of a water hose running). A water heater can also have scale buildup, which could cause this.

Unfortunately, not all of these sounds can be easily diagnosed without tools and experience, as these sounds can travel long distances along pipes. As some of these causes can cause serious damage, it should be checked out quickly to avoid serious damage to your system.

Although we strive to provide complete content in our descriptions of potential causes, these sounds can be caused by countless issues, and have only listed the more common reasons. If you have any worries that the sounds you hear from your plumbing system aren’t good, make sure to contact a professional plumber for plumbing services.

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Posted on July 17, 2019