Why Your Water Tap Makes Loud Noises Explained
Water taps making loud noises is a common concern for many homeowners.
The most common reasons for a loud noise, when you turn on your cold or hot water tap, are water hammering, faulty valves, or high water pressure.
In this article, I will provide a comprehensive understanding of the reasons behind this phenomenon and the solutions to address it. Let’s go!
Common Reasons Why Turning Water Tap On Makes Noises
1. Water Hammering (aka Hydraulic Shock)
Water hammering, aka Hydraulic Shock, is not merely a loud noise; it’s a sign of a sudden change in the momentum of the water flow.
When a valve or tap is closed suddenly, the water’s kinetic energy has to go somewhere, and it often results in a shockwave that travels through the pipes.
You may notice this when turning on either your cold or hot water tap.
Factors Contributing to Water Hammering
Valve Closure Speed: The faster a valve is closed, the more likely water hammering is to occur.
Pipe Material and Size: The material and size of the pipes can affect how the shockwave is transmitted.
Water Pressure: Higher water pressure can exacerbate the effects of water hammering.
How to Fix Water Hammering
Cushion the Pipes: Applying cushioning material around the pipes can steady them and prevent rattling. This padding helps absorb the shockwave, reducing the noise.
Tighten the Fittings: Ensuring that all pipe fittings are secure can reduce vibrations, minimizing the effects of the shockwave.
Install Air Chambers or Water Hammer Arrestors: These devices can be added to the plumbing system to absorb the shockwave, preventing the noise and potential damage.
Control Valve Closure Speed: Using valves that close more slowly can prevent the sudden stoppage of water flow that leads to water hammering.
Professional Intervention: In more severe cases, a professional plumber may need to assess and modify the plumbing system to mitigate the issue.
Potential Risks of Ignoring Water Hammering
Water hammering is not just an noisy annoyance; it can lead to fairly problems if left unaddressed:
Pipe Damage: Shockwaves, especially repeated, can weaken pipes and joints, leading to leaks or even rupture.
Appliance Damage: Appliances connected to the water system may suffer damage from repeated shockwaves.
Increased Utility Costs: Leaks caused by water hammering can lead to increased water bills.
2. Faulty Shut-off Valves
Faulty shut-off valves are another common source of noise in plumbing systems, especially when using the cold water tap.
These valves control the flow of water through the pipes, and when they become compromised they can cause unsettling sounds.
Factors Contributing to Faulty Valves
Wear and Tear: Constant use can lead to the wearing down of the valve’s internal components, affecting its ability to control water flow smoothly.
Scale Build-Up: In areas with hard water, mineral deposits can accumulate inside the valve, hindering its function.
How to Fix Faulty Shut-off Valves
Clean with a Vinegar Solution: If scale build-up is the issue, a mixture of white vinegar and water can dissolve the mineral deposits. Soaking a cloth in the solution and wrapping it around the valve for a couple of hours can be effective.
Inspect for Wear and Tear: Regular inspection of valves can help identify wear and tear early, allowing for timely replacement or repair.
Replace the Valve: If cleaning is ineffective or the valve is significantly worn or damaged, replacement may be necessary. This can be a DIY project for those with plumbing experience or may require professional assistance.
Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance and inspection by a professional plumber can prevent valve issues from developing in the first place.
Potential Risks of Ignoring Faulty Shut-off Valves
Water Waste: Leaky valves can lead to significant water waste, increasing utility bills.
Damage to Other Components: Faulty valves can affect other parts of the plumbing system, leading to more extensive repairs.
Decreased Water Quality: Scale build-up can affect water quality, leading to potential health concerns.
3. High Water Pressure
High water pressure in a plumbing system is another cause of noise when you turn on your hot or cold water tap, which can lead to serious consequences if not properly managed.
Factors Contributing to High Water Pressure
Municipal Supply: Sometimes, the water supply from the municipality is delivered at a higher pressure than residential systems are designed to handle.
Thermal Expansion: When water is heated in a closed system (such as a water heater), it expands, potentially increasing the pressure.
Faulty Pressure Regulator: A malfunctioning water pressure regulator can fail to reduce the pressure to a safe level.
How to Fix High Water Pressure
Measure the Pressure: Utilize a test gauge to determine the water pressure. Normal residential water pressure usually falls between 2 to 4 bars or 30 to 60 PSI (pounds per square inch).
Adjust or Replace the Pressure Regulator: If the pressure is found to be too high, adjustment or replacement of the water pressure regulator may be required.
Install a Pressure Reducing Valve: This valve can be installed to automatically reduce the pressure to a safe level.
Regular Monitoring: Regularly checking the water pressure can help detect and address issues early.
Consult a Professional: If the cause of the high pressure is unclear or if professional installation is required, consulting a skilled (and certified) plumber is advisable.
Potential Risks of Ignoring High Water Pressure
Structural Damage: The excessive force can weaken pipes and joints, leading to leaks or even rupture.
Damage to Fixtures and Appliances: Faucets, showerheads, washing machines, and other fixtures and appliances can suffer premature wear and failure.
Wasted Water: Leaks and drips caused by high pressure can lead to significant water waste.