Ideally you don’t want to hear your plumbing at all, except when the toilet flushes. Some older systems may have a language all their own. If your system is making all sorts of strange noises, you may want to get a plumber to investigate. They are expert listeners.
This is a specific plumbing term and is the “kerthump” you hear in the pipes when the faucets or valves are turned off quickly. Imagine a fast moving stream of water rolling and tumbling down a narrow pipe. Suddenly it hits a closed valve. The water has nowhere to go and comes to a sharp stop and results in a loud thud.
Apart from being annoying, water hammer is sending shock waves through your piping, subjecting it to greater wear and tear and possible leaks. Plumbing that is properly installed has air chambers, or cushions, that compress when a shock wave hits, absorbing the blow and preventing hammering. If you have never had hammering before and it suddenly starts, your system’s air chambers have probably become waterlogged and need draining and refilling.
What do you do if there are no built in air chambers? First thing is to check that your water pressure is not too high as this is a frequent cause of water hammer. If the pressure is more than 60 psi, you should reduce it using a regulator.
If the hammering continues, you may need to install a water hammer arrestor. This is a small section of air-filled pipe that screws onto a tee that is soldered to the affected pipe. It has a built-in piston that compresses the air to compensate for the shock caused by closing the valve.
Chattering is usually caused by a looseness of something somewhere, such as a loose pipe vibrating against something solid, like framing or the strapping designed to hold it in place. Inspect your pipes where accessible and see whether there is a lot of movement when a faucet is turned on or someone flushes the toilet. Securing a shaky pipe and putting some cushioning around it may solve your problem.
Whistling is caused by water rushing through a restricted section of piping. The restriction could be caused by sediment or mineral build-up in the pipe or a defective washer or valve. Turn on each of your faucets one by one to narrow down the source. Does the whistling occur only when a particular faucet is turned on? If that is the case, remove the offending washer, valve and valve seat. Give them a good clean and replace any corroded parts.
If the whistle can’t be isolated to a single faucet, the problem may be on the home’s main water valve. Try turning down the water pressure to see if the whistling is due to the pressure being too high. Try turning the pressure up slightly higher to see if this will flush out any build up in the pipes. Check that the pressure-reducing valve is not damaged or dirty.
CALL YOUR WATER COMPANY
If that irritating whistling is still ringing in your ears, call your water company and set up an appointment for a technician to come and check your water meter.