What Causes Pipes to Rattle?


Water pipes are a primary function for all homes in the U.S. Running water is one of the greatest inventions of modern time and has allowed us to have hot water. Without this improvement, washing dishes would take an even greater amount of time. However, the rattling of pipes can be one of the annoying drawbacks of running water, but it is a very simple fix.

Cause of Rattling Pipes

  • The primary cause for rattling pipes is air in the lines. When air is trapped in the lines, it causes the pipes to vibrate, which causes them to bang against floor joists and wall joists. If you have a steam heating system in your house, it too is often affected by air trapped inside the pipes.

Possible Quick Solution

  • One quick solution to stop the rattling of pipes is to bleed the plumbing system by attaching a hose to the hot water heater and draining it. The next step is to shut the water off to the house at the main. Open all of the faucets in the house. Turn on the water main. Allow the water to run for about five minutes, and slowly turn off the water starting with the faucet farthest from the water main and working your way to the nearest faucet.

If the Pipes Keep Rattling

  • If the draining of the air in the lines did not work, the best possible solution is the addition of an expansion tank over the hot water heater. Some communities require these as a standard construction, but if you are in an area that does not have these, this will solve the rattling problem. It is a fairly simple process to replace the expansion tank, and a plumber can complete the job in about an hour.

Steam Heat Rattles

  • These rattles are also caused by air in the lines, and the fix is basically the same as for drinking water lines. Since steam is what heats the radiators in the rooms, they are susceptible to air buildup. At the end of the return line is a valve that allows you to drain the water from the lines by shutting off the boiler and allowing the water to cool for about two hours. Place a bucket under the valve, and open the valve to drain the line. When it is drained, close the valve. If this does not work, notify your plumber because there may be a problem with your expansion tank or you may need to install one.

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  • "Time-Life Books Complete Home Improvement and Renovation Manual"; Bob Vila and Time-Life Books; 1971
  • "Plumbing (Home Repair and Improvement (Updated Series)"; Time-Life Books; 1997
  • "Complete Home Plumbing"; Scott Atkinson; 2001
  • "Basic Plumbing With Illustrations"; Howard C. Massey; 1994
  • Photo Credit preparation for installation for water supply image by YURY MARYUNIN from Fotolia.com
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