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 Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

Several months ago, our home water heater was whistling from the pressure valve and leaking water. So the local major plumbing company came and said your pressure is too high - you need a pressure regulator and a new expansion tank. That was done. They didn't properly get rid of the air in the system, so when we first put on the heating, didn't work and loud noises were coming from the boiler (gas). They came back, and we bled the system of air, step by step, each region of the house. Solved that problem. But now, for the last several months, we have this strange symptom. Maybe two times per day, there is a very loud "motorboat" vibrating/banging noise that occurs that is random - it is NOT connected to using water at all. It happens any time of the day or night. It is very brief - maybe 3-5 seconds at most. Because of that, I do not have the slightest idea where it is coming from - by the time I get up to look for it it's over. So, I cannot tell the company (or any other plumber) where it is coming from and if someone came to the house, they can be here for hours and never hear it. Even after months living in the house with the noise I do not know where it is coming from. It only occurs a couple of times per day and it is VERY brief. Still air in the system? Sediment in the water heater? I've heard toilet valves can make noise like this, but it started after they did the work, so that would be too much of a coincidence? Or are we having high pressure in my neighborhood (which seems to be the case) and other houses (without pressure regulators) are banging and I'm hearing it through the sewer connection? Any general ideas?

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: PlumberLoren (CA)

Could be coming from the Main Water Line if you are not on a Well. I would suspect the water system before the sewer system because that is where the pressure builds up to most. Is your water system in the basement, attic or in the joists above the ground floor? You might try to install one of those small air hammer devices at the fixture that the noise sounds the loudest. You are a detective now regarding your system and you will have to try solutions one at a time. If you continue to focus on the problem another possibility will surface. Wish I could be of more help. If there are any conditions that you have not exposed to us there may be a clue in what ever you can think of. Is the home a two story home, what is the material of the water system, have you contacted the city or water authority for their input? Toilet valves have been known to emit sounds that are strange. What brand and model are your toilets? Call the manufacturer to see if they have had any experience with your problem and spend some time describing it to them. Try to be as close to the spot in your home that the sound is most prevalent. This could prove to be a tough one if the professionals in your area can't solve it but don't give up. Good luck and keep us informed as we would like to know what you discover in this mystery.



Edited 2 times.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: hj (AZ)

ANY "air in the system" would have been drained out AS SOON AS YOU OPENED a faucet, so they did not have to come back and drain it, any where.

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 Thanks, I appreciate your input :thumb:
Author: mike1964 (PA)

Thanks, I appreciate your input and I'll look into some of your ideas. The major thing I think is to try and narrow down where the noise is coming from. Being home a few days during the holidays may help, if I'm alert and move quickly. We are a split level home, water heater and main at lower level. Haven't contacted water authorities but plumbers say water pressure problems here. We have Kohler toilets. It's going to be a detective job as you say.



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

When they came back they said a lot of air in system, whatever they did helped. But I'm not an expert here.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: steve (CA)

Is this a hot water system for heating the home or domestic water? If for heating the home, is there an automatic fill valve?

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

We have a Burnham Hydronics water heater to produce hot water for the house, don't know about fill valve. It automatically fills and makes the hot water upon demand. We have natural has as the furnace for the home.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

Since the noise sounded louder, we had the owner of the plumbing company check the entire system. But of course since the noise is sporadic and cannot be elicited by any action, he didn't hear it. Apart from putting padding around some pipe areas, he didn't do too much. Didn't think it was the toilets or water heater sediment. Although he was skeptical of the main water main/pressure regulator, the only thing he did which remotely sounded like the noise was to rattle around the main water piping, to which he then put some padding. I'm leaning to the possibility we are getting water pressure surges from the town supply and that hits the regulator and makes the noise but that's speculation. The thing to do now is to see if the added padding helps (I doubt it) and to see if we can localize the noise. I'm wondering if this is going to be a problem with no easy solution, certainly no quick solution. I would almost certainly think it's tied to the installation of the pressure regulator.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

UPDATE: we went through an entire day (first time in months) without the noise after the plumbing boss visit. Need to see how long this lasts and/or if it returns. Coincidence? Maybe he did something to help. Three ideas:
1. Put a bit of foam padding at points where piping from the heating system entered the ceiling, making a tight fit
2. Shut off water to house, opened faucet to drain, put water back on. Rattled water main to see if it reproduced noise (similar, but much lower). When we later used water, enormous amounts of air were released
3. Checked expansion tank pressure and released a small bit of air through the Schrader valve

All systems functioning normally, getting close to 48 hours since last banging. The proof of the pudding is to see how long it lasts and/or if something else happens.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: mike1964 (PA)

After 48 hrs with no noise, it happened again at 1 AM. I'll need to see if it occurs again during the day and if so, how often. Most important, to find out where it is coming from. Without that, this problem will not be solved.

If the additional information can help someone reading this assist in the diagnosis, I would be most appreciative. Something the plumber did helped for a couple of days but it was not enough. There is a cycling aspect to the problem, the buildup of something that is "dissipated" by the banging, or just something filling. He did check the toilets and did not believe it had anything to do there.

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 Re: Strange pipe noise
Author: steve (CA)

Can you shut off the auto refill on the heating system for a couple of days? When you turn it back on, if the system lost pressure and refills, you might then hear the noise.

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