Water Pipe Noise When Water Is Not Running? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Random unwanted sounds can really take away from an otherwise relaxing afternoon at home. Sometimes these unwanted sounds can even come from our houses themselves. Water pipes can make a variety of unwanted sounds when they are not operating properly. These pipes can even make noise when the water is not running.

Water hammers occur when water pressure tries to escape pipes but makes a banging sound in the pipe instead. Loose pipes and excessively high water pressure are also common reasons your pipes make noise when the water is not running. Make sure your ballcock assembly and main shut-off valve are working properly. If you can not find the source of the noise you should call a professional.

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Water Hammers

When you hear a loud banging sound in your pies this could be a phenomenon known as “water hammers.” Water hammers often occur when high-pressure water is shut off too quickly. When the high pressure has nowhere to go after the faucet shuts off the pressure needs to find a place to go.

This pressure with nowhere to go results in loud banging sounds within the pipes, which are also known as water hammers. Normally there is an air duct chamber within the pipes where the water can go. Sometimes this vertical chamber dissipates over time and leaves the high-pressure water with nowhere to go.

How To Fix Water Hammers

Modern homes come equipped with a mechanism or valve that prevents water hammers from occurring. If you have a modern home and still hear this sound then this valve or mechanism may not be installed properly.

  • Turn off the Water Valve. Locate the main water valve in your house.
  • Turn On Highest Faucet. Locate the highest faucet on the top floor of your dwelling. Turn it on and run the water.
  • Turn on the lowest Faucet. Find the lowest faucet in your bottom room and turn it on. This is often a basement sink if the home has a basement.
  • Let the Top Faucet Run. When the faucet stops sputtering you can turn the water back on.

Once the water turns back on the water hammer sounds should stop. If they continue, consult a professional.

Too Much Water Pressure

Another potential reason for your water pipes making noise when that water is not turned on is excessive water pressure. When the water pressure is high (above 75 psi) the pressure is considered dangerously high. This high pressure can cause your pipes to vibrate and make noises even when the water is not running.

A threaded water gauge is the best and easiest way to confirm if the water pressure is too high. You can screw in the threaded water gauge to a faucet. If the gauge reads about 75 psi you know your pressure needs to be lowered.

Loose Pipes

When you hear pipes making noise when there is no water running it could mean loose pipes and bad plumbing installation. Water moves quickly through pipes. If the pipes are loosely held in place they can bang against walls and other pipes. This noise can occur whenever there is movement in the pipes.

Worn Out Washers

Washers are used in water valves, faucets, and taps. Over time a washer can wear down and lose its effectiveness. When a washer wears down enough water can escape through the tiny gaps.

This release of water can result in a high-pitched whistle sound. If you hear this whistle or squeal you should check the status of your washers in the area that makes the noise.

Sediment In Water Heater

If the water pipe noise seems to happen at random times, you may have a problem with sediment in the water heater. The banging noise occurs when bubbles of steam break through the deposit on the bottom.

If this is the source of the noise, you may have a problem with the water heater. If the problem with your water heater persists it may be time to purchase a new one. You can help prevent this issue by regularly flushing your water heater.

Bad Main Shut Off Valve

The main shut-off valve is the main hub of water distribution in your home. If it is not functioning properly it can cause the water to flow improperly through the house. This incorrect water flow can cause the pipes to make noise.

If the shut-off valve is the problem causing your pipes to make noise, you should consult a plumber to replace it.

Damaged Ballcock Assembly

Pipes in the wall are not the only source of water pipe noise when water is not running. Toilets are often the cause of water pipe noise. The ballcock assembly in your toilet bowl is the mechanism that controls the water filling into your toilet bowl.

When your ballcock assembly is damaged it can make a constant water-running sound or a gurgling sound. If the sound persists you should replace the ballcock assembly with a new one.

Leaking Pipes

Sometimes the reason your pipes are making noise is there is a leak in the pipe. Small pipe leaking can cause a tapping or ticking sound. There are other reasons for this running water sound, but regardless of the reason you should investigate further.

It is crucial you don’t ignore these sounds. Often the sounds in the wall are problems that can lead to much larger problems, like mold and rot, if left untreated.

Objects In The Pipes

Although less common, objects can sometimes find their way into your pipes. Objects or even animals can find their way into the pipes. If it is an object, you may need to contact a plumber. If rodents or other small animals are the reason for the noise in your pipes you may also want to contact a pest control company to prevent this issue from recurring.

Call A Professional

It is possible to test many problems yourself. There are several simple things you can listen for or check for to diagnose why your pipes are making noise and the water is not running. When it comes to repairing the problem however, it is often best to consult the professionals.

Sometimes when you hear a water pipe sound when there is no water running it is a sign of a larger problem. When you call a plumber they can investigate the inner-workings of your pipes. You may need new pipes, or need a leak fixed. Identifying these problems early will save you a great deal of money and headache in the long run.

Sounding Off

Water pipes can make a variety of sounds for several different reasons. The one thing they have in common is that they are irritating and should be silenced as soon as possible. The sound you hear in the walls or in a water-connected appliance may be the first sign of a bigger issue.

One of the most common water pipe sounds is known as a “water hammer.” These can usually be fixed easily. Your home may suffer from loose or old pipes or washers. The problem may not even be the pipes themselves.

Sometimes your appliances like a water heater or toilet are the source of these annoying sounds. On occasion you can fix these issues yourself. If anything seems more involved than you are comfortable with you should contact a professional. Regardless of how you fix the problem, just make sure you do not ignore it.

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Related Questions

How Do I Know If I Have Air In My Water Pipes?

There are several common signs that you have air trapped in your water pipes. You may notice water sputtering out of your faucet. This jolting splatter is a sign that water has seeped into your water pipes.

Other signs that you have air in your pipes include vibrating pipes or an irregular water flow coming out of your faucet. If you have air in your pipes you can try increasing the water velocity. This can push the existing air out of the pipes through the faucet.

What Type Of Water Pipes Are Best For My Home?

In modern times, polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, has become the most common type of water pipes used in homes. PVC is the common white piping that is available in many different sizes and lengths. It is very versatile and is one of the most affordable types of piping.

PVC piping can also last a long time as it is not susceptible to rust like metal pipes. PVC piping is also versatile when it comes to temperature as it can withstand warm and cold temperatures.

How Often Should Water Pipes Be Replaced?

The lifespan of water pipes varies based on the material that are made of. PVC pipes are common in modern homes. They should be replaced every 20 to 45 years. Copper, brass and galvanized steel pipes, however, can last between 80 and 100 years.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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