Foam insulation in plumbing pipe chase (C) D Friedman Eric Galow Plumbing Noise Checklist Use this list to track down the sources of plumbing system noises
     

  • PLUMBING NOISE CHECKLIST - CONTENTS: List of sources of noises in building plumbing systems. Sources of water supply pipe noises. Sources of building drain pipe noises. Sources of building plumbing fixture noises. Sources of water main piping or well and pump system noises. How to find and identify the cause of various plumbing noises.House Noises - Building Noises, lists of causes, cures, and detection methods for indoor noise pollution
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about plumbing system noise causes & cures
  • REFERENCES

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This article provides a plumbing noise diagnosis checklist useful for plumbing system noise control, starting with a list of sources of plumbing system noises in buildings: water supply piping noise, drain pipe noise, plumbing fixture noises, water main pipe noise, well pump and piping noises, and water heater noises.

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Plumbing Noise Checklist: Plumbing System Noises in buildings, Causes, Cures

As we explain in more detail at PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE REPAIR, we divide plumbing drain and fixture noises into two groups:

  1. Plumbing defect noises associated with plumbing system problems or defects whose identification and diagnosis is discussed
    at PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS
    and
    at PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE REPAIR.

    Our complete list of various plumbing system noises is at PLUMBING NOISE CHECKLIST
  2. Normal (but annoying) plumbing system noises that will be corrected by noise transmission control or sound insulation are discussed
    at SOUND CONTROL for PLUMBING

Plumbing System Noises in buildings include these sources & cures

  • Drain piping noises from clogged or partly clogged drains -
    see CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
  • Photograph of a house with missing plumbing ventsDrips at plumbing fixtures may make an obvious drip or splash sound. But dripping water can be tricky to track down. Don't forget to consider
    • A small supply leak inside of a building cavity can produce a noise that is hard to track down.

      Supply pipe leaks may be continuous (and thus are eventually discovered by water stains or mold) or intermittent, such as a leak around a tub or shower control that drips into the wall cavity only when the valve is turned "on".
    • A drain piping leak inside of a building cavity can also produce a noise that is hard to track down.

      But a drain drip noise should not be present when no fixtures have water running into them. But don't forget that a quietly running toilet can also produce a drip or other plumbing problems downstream from the toilet in the building drain piping.
    • Plumbing drain piping or plumbing fixture noise diagnosis and cure -
      see PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE DIAGNOSIS,
      and
      See PLUMBING DRAIN NOISE REPAIR.

      Also see NOISE CONTROL for PLUMBING where we describe reducing the annoying sounds of normal plumbing system piping and fixtures.
  • Heating system noises make a cameo appearance in our list of plumbing noises because some pipe or fixture noises may be traced to heating system piping, radiators, controls, pumps, etc.
    See NOISE DIAGNOSIS, HEATING SYSTEM
    and
    also BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS
  • Plumbing Fixture noises at drains, gurgling, glug glug sounds, burbling, bubbling during drainage -
    see PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
    and
    see CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.
  • Plumbing water supply piping noises include these structure-borne or direct-contact vibration noise conduction:
    • Leaks in water pipes outside of the building but in water supply piping coming to the building from a municipal water main or city water piping can produce a humming, hissing, or ringing sound in the building. If you turn off the main water shutoff at the building and listen with a mechanic's stethoscope to the water pipes on the street side of the shutoff valve, comparing this sound to pipes in the building you can identify this problem.
      See WATER SUPPLY / DRAIN PIPE LEAK TYPES
      and
      see WELL PIPING LEAK DIAGNOSIS.
    • Running water in the building that is unanticipated, such as a running toilet or intermittent cycling water pump (private well systems) will produce intermittent water pipe noises.
      See TOILET RUNS CONTINUOUSLY
      and
      see INTERMITTENT CYCLING WATER PUMPS.
    • Water hammer noise: banging or clanking sounds when water faucets are shut off -
      see WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
    • Plumbing Supply piping noises: hiss, whistle, whine: Plumbing noise that include a high-pitched hissing or whistling sound may be heard as water runs through building supply piping. This sound should stop immediately when you turn off any fixture that is running water in the building. You may be able to stop or reduce plumbing supply piping noise by changing the water system pressure at a municipal water supply valve. Try first just slightly reducing the incoming water pressure.

      See WATER SUPPLY PIPE WHISTLE NOISE for details.
    • Plumbing Supply Piping Noise: vibration, buzz, hum: vibration from a well pump or other pumps (such as a hot water circulating pump) are readily transmitted through metal and even some plastic plumbing pipes. Wherever water piping is attached to the building such as to wall studs or floor/ceiling joists, the vibration is readily transmitted to the wall or floor structure in a manner that makes that whole assembly act as a giant loud speaker.

      Use sound-isolating plumbing pipe mounting clamps, foam pipe wrap under clamps, neoprene pipe clamps (less effective) or similar resilient pipe support products to isolate the water piping from the structure itself at each attachment point. The use of sound-isolating resilient supports for plumbing piping is key in reducing plumbing noises from piping.

      According to the Canadian CNRC, "Noise reductions up to about 15 dBA can be obtained relative to systems where no resilient mounts are used for pipes."

      At Technical Reviewers we list some sources of resilient pipe clamps and plumbing support systems. CONTACT us to add to that list (no fees involved).
    • In new construction route plumbing pipes on a path that keeps them away from bedrooms and dining or sitting areas. If a plumbing drain must be run through one of these areas, especially when using plastic drain piping (noisier than cast-iron) you will need to sound-insulate the pipe chase.
  • SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS may include pumps that produce noise in the building - see Pump Noises above.
  • Photograph of a plumbing vent blocked by a visiting frogPlumbing vent piping-caused plumbing system noises and odors - At PLUMBING DRAIN VENTS we explain the basics of proper plumbing vent piping and how errors cause trap siphonage, odors, and noises.
  • Toilet noises:
    • If a toilet is running there may be rippling water sounds, drip sounds (into the main drain waste vent line), and occasional cycling of a water pump if the building is connected to a private well system. Fix the running toilet.
      See TOILET RUNS CONTINUOUSLY
    • Toilet flush noises in drain piping: such as burbling or gurgling noises at the toilet or at nearby drains are corrected by fixing slow or blocked drains or by finding and fixing missing or clogged plumbing vents.

      Transmitted toilet drain noises mayalso be avoided by routing drain lines out of bedrooms or other quiet areas or by sound isolation of the pipe chase.
    • Airborne toilet noises such as toilet flushing need to be controlled by building sound isolation methods discussed beginning
      at SOUND CONTROL in buildings.
  • Water heater noises: see
    WATER HEATER NOISES
    where we explain the clanking, rumbling, popping, or hissing noises that may be traced to a water heater problem.
  • Water Pump Noises:
    see Pump Noises, Water & Well located just below in this article. Also see WATER PRESSURE SWITCH NOISES.

Other advice about controlling plumbing noises in buildings is
at SOUND CONTROL for PLUMBING.

At Developments in Noise Control, an NRCC document, you will find other suggestions for building noise control discussing block wall noise transmission, plumbing noises, and some general theory.

Pump Noises: Water & Well Pumps

Water pump noises: at water pumps or well pumps. Water pumps can be quite noisy, depending on the pump type and model, and the pump location. If the well pump is a submersible unit located inside the well, normally the only noise you'll observe in the building is the clicking of the pump control relay(s) that turn the pump on or off, and possibly a modest sound of water entering the water pressure tank or building piping.

    • Water pump noises change from loud and rattling to a more quiet hum if a pump has lost prime (contains air instead of water) and then regains its prime (contains water). Running a pump "dry" can also destroy it.
      See WATER PUMP LIFE EXPECTANCY.

      But if your well pump is located indoors the pump motor sound can be loud and disturbing. We do not recommend simply surrounding the pump or covering it with fiberglass insulation in contact with the pump or water tank, because condensation can lead to a mold problem. But enclosing a well pump in a utility room that has benefited from sound control insulation can make a big reduction in pump noise heard in the rest of the structure.
      See SOUND CONTROL in buildings.
    • Plumbing noises from water pumps: vibration from a well pump or other pumps is transmitted into a building by two routes: by air as pump noise moves through building air and into other building areas, and by direct physical contact among the vibrating pump, pipes, and the building structure, as we discussed just above.
      Plumbing noises such as from a well pump are also transmitted into the building through metal piping - wherever pipes are secured to the building framing, such as framing joists for a floor overhead, the whole floor can act as a loudspeaker cone. We separate the water pump noise problem into two components:
      • What is actually making the water pump noise:
        - is it loose components or mounts that can be tightened
        - is it vibration in an electric pump impeller or motor that has a bad bearing (and short remaining life)
        - is it electric motor noise
        - and if so is it characteristic of this particular motor (in which case the fix involves either going to a quieter pump motor or using sound isolation)
      • If the pump noise is unavoidable, how best should we stop sound transmission from the pump to the rest of the building? (see air transmission below)
        - Structure-borne pump or plumbing noises: use rubber or foam mounts for securing piping at the pump to nearby building framing
        - Airborne pump or plumbing noises: use other building noise isolating or sound insulation techniques to keep sound from leaving the pump room or utility area.
        See SOUND CONTROL in buildings.
      • Airborne noise transmission: For air transmission of water pump or other pump noises, reduce plumbing noise transmission, depending on the noise type by these methods:
        • Abnormal pump noises: check that the pump motor and pump assembly bearings and mounts are in good condition and replace these if they are worn. Other abnormal "pump" noises may be caused by air cavitation in the pump impeller assembly, by a damaged impeller, by mineral or other debris in the pump impeller, or by air in the well piping or water supply piping.
        • Normal pump noises: all electric motors make some noise when operating. If your motor or pump assembly is a noisy unit and you don't want to change it out for a more quite unit, use the indoor sound isolation methods discussed at SOUND CONTROL in buildings to isolate the utility room or area where the pump is located.
        • At Developments in Noise Control, [PDF] an NRCC document, you will find other suggestions for plumbing noise control.
    • Water pump pressure control switch clicking or humming are discussed in detail at WATER PRESSURE SWITCH NOISES. Clicking may be a normal on-off switch sound, but humming from the pressure control switch may indicate a stuck relay and risk control burn-up; other humming sounds traced not to the pressure switch itself but to the water piping and water pump may also be normal.
    • See INTERMITTENT CYCLING WATER PUMPS for an explanation of water pumps that turn on unexpectedly.
    • See SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP or SHORT CYCLING DIAGNOSIS TABLE if the well pump is turning on and off too frequently
    • See WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING if the well pump simply won't stop running at all
  • Water or well pump clunk or thunk noises around the water tank, piping, or control switches: A "thunk" or "clunk" sound heard around the water pressure tank or water pressure tank controls, especially if the sound occurs at the start of a well pump "on" cycle, may be due to a failing pump relay switch (used on submersible well pump systems), possibly due to a failing check valve, or perhaps loose piping that moves or shakes when the shock of sudden application of water pressure causes the piping (or even a water tank) to move.

In the article series about building noises NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE we discuss how to locate the source of, identify and correct various building sounds and noises indoors or on occasion, noises from outside that penetrate indoors at annoying levels.

Our page top photo of a plumbing drain chase in new construction (and before sound insulation was added) is provided courtesy of Galow Homes.

 

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