Noise coming from pipes

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by gnrboyd, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. gnrboyd

    gnrboyd New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Missouri
    Hello,

    I am about to pull my hair out trying to figure out why my pipes are making noise and any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Several months ago, I noticed some loud growling noises coming from my water pipes when the water was on. I checked my pressure and found it was too high. (80 or more I believe) The pressure could not be adjusted by the PRV so I replaced it and the growling went away.

    A short time later, I started hearing a high pitched noise like a tuning fork I ran the water at a low volume. The noise went away when the water was running at high volume. In fact, to hear the noise, you sort of had to hit the sweet spot on the water volume. I drained the lines, adjusted pressure, tinkered with valves, etc. and somehow it stopped. (I am unsure if it stopped due to something I did or if it was just the somewhat intermittent nature of this problem.)

    A couple of months later, the high pitched noise came back. I tried draining the lines again but that didn't help. I've turned off all of the valves to faucets, toilets and the ice maker but noise is still present. That seems to rule out those fixtures. I replaced two shower cartridges that needed to be replaced anyway thinking that might be the culprit since those don't have shut offs. That didn't fix it either.

    Currently, the high pitch noise has gone away but now I have a new sounds to contend with. Now I hear an echo sound when the water is running at any volume but it is louder at higher volumes. When you shut off the water, you hear it for a second or two.

    Also, when the ice maker fills the ice tray or if you just leave a slight trickle at any faucet, the pipes vibrate and make a lower pitched growling sound that you can hear throughout the whole house. (Sort of sounds like a small motor running.)

    Last weekend, while trying to figure this out, went out to the water meter pit in the front yard to see if by chance I could hear the sound from there. I found that my meter was leaking at the connection on my side of the meter. I finally thought I figured out the problem. I called the water company and they came out while I was at work and tightened the connection. The leak is gone but the sound is still present. They say that their meter is good. Would a faulty meter cause the noises that I have been hearing?

    More, info.... I replaced my 50 gal hot water tank about a year and a half ago with one that is slightly more efficient than the old one. There was no thermal expansion tank installed before so I did not add one. (In fact, I didn't even know much about them until I started researching my noise problem.) I may add one but I don't know why that would be the problem since I didn't have one for 15 years and never heard any of these strange noises. I would think if thermal expansion was the problem, after leaving the water on for a short period, would reduce the pressure and the noises would go away but that doesn't happen.

    I have my water pressure set to about 50 and I have been watching my gauge most of the day. The peak pressure so far is 75. No showers or other heavy hot water use has happened today. Is that spike normal for minimal hot water use?

    If I do add a thermal expansion tank, would it be an acceptable practice to splice in a 3/4 T Sharkbite fitting and add a stainless water tank hose to connect with the tank that would be mounted to a wall stud behind the water tank? I know that isn't how plumbing purists would do it, but would it be acceptable?

    Another thought... since the water sounds occur at any faucet, could these sounds be caused by a bad main water valve? The valve is a gate type and it does leak a little on the stem when you turn it on or off. In fact, when the valve is all the way open, you can run your finger over the stem and feel water. It isn't enough to drip but it is wet. I have tightened it up a little trying make the leak stop but it seems to get worse the more I tighten it. (I have tried to tighten both the nut on the stem and the one on the valve housing.) Since it is the main valve, I don't want to make things worse by messing with it too much. Do you think this could have anything to do with the noise?

    One last thought... The city water pressure (before PRV) is about 150 psi. That sounds awfully high to me but I am down in a valley. The city didn't seem to think there was a problem with that. Is that normal?

    Sorry for the long post. Any information or advice to the concerns/questions listed above would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Location:
    IL
    I would leave a faucet on so that you get the noise. Then go grasp pipes at the main valve and then anywhere else you can grasp. If you find a place that affects the sound much, I expect the cause is near there.
  3. gnrboyd

    gnrboyd New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Missouri
    I tried your suggestion. I found that the vibration is the strongest where the line comes into the house in the basement.

    My line comes through the foundation wall where there is a gate valve. From the main valve, the line goes up about 2 feet where it runs into a T. One direction on the T has a 1/2" line about a foot long with another gate valve on the end. There is a brass piece threaded on the end of the valve with some type of spray head. I have never understood why it was put there or what it's purpose is. From the other end of the T, there is 3/4 line that then makes a 90 degree turn and a goes up a foot or so where it meets the PRV. From there, it continues up the wall to the ceiling and then turns and feeds the rest of the house.

    I can feel and hear the vibration the strongest from where it comes in the house past both valves and the PRV and up the wall. After that stretch, the vibration slowly dissipates. In the next room I can get to, there is very minimal vibration.

    I put my ear to the pipe where it comes in the house and I can hear variances in the vibration. The vibration seems to pulse softer and louder. It goes in a cycle from low to high about every 2-3 seconds. You really can't hear the variance of the pulse unless you put your ear to the pipe.

    The 2 valves and the PRV have potential to be the culprit. For a test, I did the following:

    When I turn the water main valve to partially close, the vibration does not change. I tried to adjust the PRV about 2 turns each way and the vibration continues but does change slightly. When I turned on the smaller valve on the 1/2 line to run water, the vibration went away. (This pressure is before PRV and is around 150) Also, when I turn on another valve in the house, the vibration goes away but the echo mentioned in the original email is still present.

    It sounds like the main valve may be ok since it doesn't seem to affect the vibration. The PRV is brand new so I don't think that is the problem. I think my next step may be to shut off the water and checkout that other valve on the end of the 1/2 line coming off the T. (This valve is 15 years old, is never used, and looks brand new so I have my doubts.) Since the vibration doesn't go away after water has been running for a while, I don't think it could be thermal expansion.

    Thoughts or other suggestions? Thanks for the help.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
  4. gnrboyd

    gnrboyd New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Missouri
    Update.. I had the water company come out and they heard the vibration. They replaced the water meter in the pit in my front yard. That did not solve the problem. They then came in and suggested that I replace the the rubber washer in the main gate/globe valve in my basement. I did that today but didn't solve the problem either.

    I'm back to thinking it is either another defective (or wrong design) PRV or I need to install a thermal expansion tank even though I've not had one previously in this house and never had this problem. Since this thread isn't getting much action (probably because I wrote a novel), I will pose a question regarding thermal expansion in another thread.
  5. jm66208

    jm66208 Member

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    KC
    My bet it is the PRV. Could be the washer on the globe valve as well. Pull it & see if the screw holding the washer you put on has backed out. Remember to have the stem backed out all the way when you reinstall it. Where did you get the PRV & did you install it yourself? Where in MO are you? I'd Replace the main globe valve with a ball valve & see if that helps. Kind of process of elimination. A TET is a must as well, but it has no effect on the noise, let's get that fixed first.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  6. gnrboyd

    gnrboyd New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Missouri
    jm66208... Thanks for the reply.

    I pulled the globe valve apart yesterday. The washer screw was tight and the washer didn't appear to be damaged other than it was hard. I replaced it with a 1/2" rubber washer from the hardware store. It had no effect on the noise. I also replaced the packing washer although I am not sure it was the right kind. I had to dig the old one out with a small screwdriver almost like it was poured in. The new one seemed to fit ok in the nut but in order to have the valve open and close freely, I have to leave the packing nut a little looser than I would like. It moves slightly when I open and close the valve. If the new washer didn't have any effect, do you think any other part of the valve could be causing the problem? I didn't see any damage to it when I had it apart. Even though I would rather have a ball valve, I don't see how putting one in would solve this particular issue since the new washer didn't help. ??

    I live in Lee's Summit, MO which is a suburb of Kansas City.

    I replaced the PRV myself last fall. It was making a high pitched humming noise at lower volumes. After tinkering with the problem on and off for a few months, I finally replaced it again a couple of weeks ago. It has made more of the growl/vibration/jackhammer noises. Both PRVs have varied in their noises and to be honest, my memory is getting a little blurred as to exactly what noises have come from each, when and what I have or have not done that may have caused a change.
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