What causes noise in water pipes?

Updated November 21, 2016

Noises in water pipes can range from soft hisses to loud hammering sounds. Figuring out the causes of the noises in your water pipes will help you protect your home from potential water damage.

The Facts

Water isn't the only thing that comes from your pipes; water pipes in your home can also produce a variety of noises. Noises from your water pipes can be irritating and alarming. They are caused by a variety of factors, some of which are minor issues and others that may indicate a major problem with your home's plumbing.


Water pipes can hiss, whistle, squeal and shriek. These higher-pitched noises usually occur when a toilet tank is filling or a faucet is running. Water pipes can also produce banging and rattling noises. Banging noises are generally heard when a faucet is turned off or after a toilet has been flushed. Water pipes make rattling noises when a faucet is running.


The cause of whistling or hissing noises in water pipes is usually a loose or misshapen washer restricting water flow. If your toilet shrieks every time the tank refills, a faulty ballcock assembly within the toilet is causing the noise. Banging in your water pipes after you turn off a faucet is called "water hammer." It is caused by either by water slamming into the valve or by poorly secured pipes vibrating against joists and wall supports. If you hear a rattling noise while a faucet is running, a loose washer is usually to blame.


Some causes of noises in your water pipes require simple fixes. To replace a faulty washer, you will need to disassemble the faucet. Faulty ballcock assemblies can be replaced as well. Other water pipe noises may require professional assistance to fix. Water hammer can be fixed by lowering water pressure, or a plumber may need to install shock absorbers within your pipes. If your water pipe noise is caused by pipes vibrating in your walls, you may need to call a professional to fix them.


While a squealing faucet may be more annoying than dangerous, other causes of noises in water pipes can be a warning of potential costly problems. Loose and rattling water pipes can leak, damaging your home. Be sure to turn off the main water shut-off valve to your home before attempting any repairs yourself. Consult a professional if you lack the experience or resources to fix the cause of the noises on your own.

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