Loose pipes can cause noisy vibrations, so make sure they’re secured to wooden framing with pipe clips.
If high water pressure is the issue, try adding a pressure-reducing valve.
Homeowners can drain air chambers by turning off the water and opening the faucets and flushing the toilets.
If the noisy pipes persist, call on a plumber to fix vibrating pipes to avoid flooding or costly repairs.
It can be scary or at the very least irritating to hear a rattling noise coming from your plumbing, but don’t ignore it. The first step is diagnosing the cause of your vibrating water pipes, and then you can work on getting your plumbing in working order again.
Are Humming Pipes Dangerous?
The noises you hear can be aggravating and, could lead to a pipe breaking because of the force of the banging. No one wants water damage or worse—if the whole house floods, you’ll have to replace water-damaged drywall and flooring and dry out all your belongings. That’s why it’s important to diagnose the problem and get those pipes repaired once you hear rattling in the walls.
What Causes Water Pipes to Vibrate and Make Noise?
There could be a few different issues causing the rattling noise you hear in your pipes behind the walls, so that means there’s potentially more than one option to solve the problem. Fortunately, none of them should be too invasive.
Loose pipes occur when they loosen from the pipe clips attaching them to wood framing. Ideally, you could access the pipes via an access panel or open area where the pipes are exposed (like a basement) rather than cutting through a wall or ceiling. Visibly inspect your pipes in open areas to see if they move around when someone turns faucets on and off or flushes a toilet.
High Water Pressure
There’s nothing more relaxing than a shower with high water pressure to ease your worries, but too-high water pressure can cause pipes to vibrate and lead to long-term damage to your pipes and appliances. Indoor water pressure should be between 40 and 60 pounds per square inch (PSI).
“If you’re unsure if you have high water pressure, you can buy a wallet-friendly gauge and read your water pressure at any outdoor spigot,” says Joseph Wood, Expert Review Board member, and Boston-based Master Plumber. “Ideally, you’re looking for 60 to 80 PSI. Most code requires a pressure-reducing valve if your water pressure is over 80 PSI.” Otherwise, you can hire a local plumber to test your pressure.
A water hammer occurs when fast-closing or quick-active valves, known as solenoids, quickly shut off. They’re common in appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, humidifiers, refrigerator dispensers, and toilet fill valves and faucets. As the water flows through the pipes and the valve shuts off quickly, it causes the water to stop suddenly causing a “hammer” effect.
If you’ve lived in the house for a long time and the hammering effect has gradually gotten worse, it could be that you have air chambers connected to your pipes behind the walls. Air chambers help cushion against water hammers, but they fill with water over time and require draining to be drained to allow them to refill with air.
This can be done easily by most homeowners by shutting off the main water valve, opening up the faucets, and flushing the toilets. Starting at the highest level of the home and working your way down to the lowest level until all the pipes finish draining. Once the lowest pipe runs clear, close that drain and slowly turn the water main back on.
How to Fix Loud or Shaking Water Pipes
To start, check to make sure your pipes are secured and loose pipes aren’t your problem. If high water pressure is the issue, adding a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) to your incoming main line could correct it and help your water fixtures last longer over time.
Adding water hammer arrestors to the vibrating pipes could correct the water hammer, but that can involve cutting and soldering pipes and would likely require the experience of a plumber. A good practice is to install arrestors to all fast-closing valves; these devices are cost-effective and are finding their way into code in most locations. Ideally, the plumber could add arrestors to exposed pipes without cutting through drywall. One possible solution to the water hammer could be replacing your traditional toilet fill valves with slow-shutting ones.
Cost to Fix Vibrating Pipes
Water damage can be overwhelming to resolve, not to mention expensive to repair, so you want to find a well-vetted plumber to help diagnose and treat the problem if you’d rather not risk flooding your house with a DIY gone wrong. It typically costs around $175 to $450 to hire a plumber—pocket change compared to the thousands you’d have to spend to fix leaking pipes and repair wet drywall if your vibrating pipes burst.