Loud Humming/Vibrating pipes

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JonH

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At my wits end here, hoping for advice. Been fighting noisy pipes in my house since I moved in 10 years ago. Not a hammer or echo, but a vibration or humming sound. It is an old house but I believe all copper pipes replaced just before I bought (house was gutted and rehabbed).

First I replaced the PRV, but still had noise, so I turned down pressure to 35 psi. That seemed to help, but obviously wife did not like low pressure showers. After a few years, vibration noise seemed to get worse, especially after running hot water, and I thought it may be pressure related still. After putting a gauge on the outside spigot, I confirmed that after running hot water, the pressure would creep up from 35psi to over 70. House did not have a thermal expansion tank so I just recently turned pressure back up to 50psi and installed the tank. Now the pressure on gauge is constant but the hum is worse, especially if you turn any sink on full blast. It will hum (loudly) with running water and stop shortly after you turn off sink. It will not hum if you run a bath/shower or flush the toilet. I have done everything online says to check, like closing all valves one by one. I have gone around the basement putting my hands on pipes at different spots trying to feel if there is a loose bracket or perhaps pipe vibrating against a board, but cannot seem to find a culprit. I'm afraid with the higher pressure there is real risk for bad damage here. Any ideas would be appreciated.
 

Smooky

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Have you gone around and made sure all the shut off valves under the sinks etc are fully open?
 

Plumber69

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At my wits end here, hoping for advice. Been fighting noisy pipes in my house since I moved in 10 years ago. Not a hammer or echo, but a vibration or humming sound. It is an old house but I believe all copper pipes replaced just before I bought (house was gutted and rehabbed).

First I replaced the PRV, but still had noise, so I turned down pressure to 35 psi. That seemed to help, but obviously wife did not like low pressure showers. After a few years, vibration noise seemed to get worse, especially after running hot water, and I thought it may be pressure related still. After putting a gauge on the outside spigot, I confirmed that after running hot water, the pressure would creep up from 35psi to over 70. House did not have a thermal expansion tank so I just recently turned pressure back up to 50psi and installed the tank. Now the pressure on gauge is constant but the hum is worse, especially if you turn any sink on full blast. It will hum (loudly) with running water and stop shortly after you turn off sink. It will not hum if you run a bath/shower or flush the toilet. I have done everything online says to check, like closing all valves one by one. I have gone around the basement putting my hands on pipes at different spots trying to feel if there is a loose bracket or perhaps pipe vibrating against a board, but cannot seem to find a culprit. I'm afraid with the higher pressure there is real risk for bad damage here. Any ideas would be appreciated.
Y not shut off valves to a sink or toilt and Elimnate the problem
 

Cool Blue Harley

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It doesn't happen when you run the bath or shower or toilet? I know this sounds crazy but is it possibly only happening at one fixture? You said the house is old. A loose washer will vibrate loud enough to wake the dead. If it's a two handle faucet, disassemble and replace the washers. Blue locktite removable type keeps the screw from backing out. If it's not washers, I have ideas, but you might not like what you hear!
 

JonH

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Happens at every fixture, but does not hum during shower or running toilet. I have tried shutting off all valves one by one to no luck.
 

Cool Blue Harley

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The three most important installation standards for promoting quite water distribution piping are proper sizing, reaming pipe ends after cutting and isolating the pipe from framing.
Post some photos of your water piping, how it is strapped, where it enters your home, what the joints look like, ect. To help us evaluate the quality of work. Forensic plumbing is challenging, especially through a forum. Reproduce the sound and describe exactly how you did that.
 

Reach4

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While you have the humming, feel pipes -- particularly the PRV. I suspect you would cure the problem with a replacement or rebuild of the PRV.

With 50 PRV setting, I would set the air precharge in the thermal expansion tank to about 52 PSI, though 50 to 60 would be fine. Set the air pressure while the water is off and water pressure is zero.
 

Master Plumber Mark

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you need to check the ballcocks in your toilets......

if you have the old style ones with the cock and ball that floats in the toilet
I suggest you tear them out and install fluidmasters and see if that does not solve the problem.....

the ballcocks can hum and vibrate and literally get so bad they can sound like a jackhammer going off....

we run into this problem all the time,,,,....
 

Jadnashua

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Another possibility, depending on the type of valve you have for your main shutoff, is if it has a washer, and that vibrates at certain flow rates. Old style toilet fill valves, though, are a common noise producing device, followed by a PRV, or a failed, or improperly installed ET (the ET not by itself, but by allowing the pressure to rise).
 
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the ballcocks can hum and vibrate and literally get so bad they can sound like a jackhammer going off....
This happens because the rubber diaphragm in the brass ballcock fill valve has reached end of life. The rubber has hardened or deteriorated, and the pressure from a float, no matter high tide the tank level can be set, can no longer press down to seal the rubber diaphragm on top the fill valve's spout to shut. When the rubber diaphragm is working properly, it is quiet as expected.

Fluidmaster does sell a rubber diaphragm, but it is only for Fluidmaster fill valves, it has a hole in an extruded nipple and will not work on the older brass ballcocks that want a very flat disc diaphragm.

What you may need is a very hard part to find: "Crane Ballcock Repair Kit". When I was restoring my circa 1950 vintage Eljer toilet, I didn't want to gut out its 60 year old brass ball cock valve, it looked like it could work another 60 years, they are much quieter than modern plastic fill valves. And the sound of 6 Gallons per flush just sounds sweet my ears. The availablity of aftermarket parts is proof there is demand for them. You certainly won't find it in any big box stores, but if you are patient you can mail order it.

Equivalent parts include:

Jagplumbingproducts Part No. 18-034
LASCO Part No. 04-7087
LASCO_04-7087_Crane_Ballcock_Repair_Kit.jpg

Jagplumbingproducts_18-034_Replacement_Ball_Cock_Kit_fits_CRANE_Toilets_F12975_F13259.jpg

Crane_P33_Ballcock_Repair_Kit_500px.jpg
 

Cool Blue Harley

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Jon. I agree with all the above posts and the good ideas. I know you said you replaced the PRV but who knows. It may be defective or contaminated. You also said the the noise wasn't occurring when you flushed the toilet but Marks advice is spot on. A defective fill valve vibrate all through the house. Or a loose washer somewhere...isn't plumbing fun?
 

Master Plumber Mark

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I cant believe you went to all that trouble to mess with
an old Eljer brass ballcock......
I have not attempted anything like that since I was a kid back in the 60s... Where did you dig up those parts??????


For Christs sakes,
just install a new ballcock in all your toilets
I would never attempt to try to rebuild an old toilet ballcock even if its a
fluidmaster,, just get yourself some new supply lines and ballcocks and probably
some new toilet flappers and do the deed....
its only gonna cost you 20 bucks per
toilet what more can you ask???.....


usually over time the humming sound eventually gets louder and louder then sometimes it
turns into the sound of a jackhammer banging on the pipes...
 
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Jsrscott

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My pipes started making the humming noise four days ago and our situation sounds like it may be a ballcock problem but when I turn off the water to the toilets the sound is still there. It subsides when the toilet is flushed and returns 3-5 seconds after the toilet fills. I am hoping it's the ballcock so it will be cheap and easy but can I rule that out because the sound continues when the water is turned off to the toilet?

Thanks for any advice
 

Reach4

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My pipes started making the humming noise four days ago and our situation sounds like it may be a ballcock problem but when I turn off the water to the toilets the sound is still there. It subsides when the toilet is flushed and returns 3-5 seconds after the toilet fills. I am hoping it's the ballcock so it will be cheap and easy but can I rule that out because the sound continues when the water is turned off to the toilet?

Thanks for any advice
My thinking is to replace the toilet and the shutoff valve for the toilet, unless you really like the toilet otherwise. If you have to plunge now and then or you have stains that won't go away, that would get rid of the problem. The new toilets with no ballcock and with a flapper flush valve work much better. Put too much work on the old toilet, and you will be too invested in the old toilet. If the toilet is architectually interesting to you, that would be a reason to invest the time and effort in the old toilet.

If you want to troubleshoot, what happens if you close the shutoff valve and flush. Does water enter the tank? If so, your stop valve is not working.

If the stop valve works, fill the tank to where you get the noise. Turn off the stop valve. How long does the noise continue? Does the level in the tank drop in a few hours? Maybe make a pencil mark or apply tape to record the tank water level after a fill.
 

Jadnashua

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If you have a PRV, those can make some noises if their seals leak. Same thing with a check valve, which may be there if you don't have a PRV.

It's unlikely to be the toilet valve if the noise is still there when you shut off the supply valve, but stranger things have happened.
 
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