Weird noise in pipes. Any suggestions?

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I hear a strange noise in my walls when I shut off running water from a faucet. Doesn't matter if hot or cold water. Doesn't matter which faucet or valve (e.g. sink, shower, toilet, etc.) I would describe the noise as a giant pendulum swinging back and forth, rubbing against the wall. It lasts for about 2 or 3 seconds. I can't imaging a pipe swinging loose like that. I've tried cutting holes in walls to find a loose pipe, but no luck. I have copper piping throughout.
I thought this was a hammering issue. So I drained the whole house then repressurized. The problem persists. My house was built in 1997.
Any ideas on what this could be?
Thanks, AABob
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I hear a strange noise in my walls when I shut off running water from a faucet. Doesn't matter if hot or cold water. Doesn't matter which faucet or valve (e.g. sink, shower, toilet, etc.) I would describe the noise as a giant pendulum swinging back and forth, rubbing against the wall. It lasts for about 2 or 3 seconds. I can't imaging a pipe swinging loose like that. I've tried cutting holes in walls to find a loose pipe, but no luck. I have copper piping throughout.
I thought this was a hammering issue. So I drained the whole house then repressurized. The problem persists. My house was built in 1997.
Any ideas on what this could be?
*It sounds like expansion and contraction of the pipes.
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Have you called an excorsist team, and checked for ghosts? Call a priest, and have the house blessed?
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
I hear a strange noise in my walls when I shut off running water from a faucet. Doesn't matter if hot or cold water. Doesn't matter which faucet or valve (e.g. sink, shower, toilet, etc.) I would describe the noise as a giant pendulum swinging back and forth, rubbing against the wall. It lasts for about 2 or 3 seconds. I can't imaging a pipe swinging loose like that. I've tried cutting holes in walls to find a loose pipe, but no luck. I have copper piping throughout.
I thought this was a hammering issue. So I drained the whole house then repressurized. The problem persists. My house was built in 1997.
Any ideas on what this could be?
*It sounds like expansion and contraction of the pipes.
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"> I hear a strange noise in my walls when I shut off running water from a

*Another possibility is the pressure reducer usually located where the water service enters the house. If it is making noise it needs to be replaced. That would explain why the noise all over.
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That was a great suggestion. However, I checked and my house does not have a pressure reducer. So I'm back to square one.
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On Dec 4, 10:54am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If it were me, I'd put in one of the water hammer arrestors close to where the pipes make their way upstairs. A real arrestor with a sealed chamber. It sounds like you have a loose pipe in the walls somewhere and the sudden shut-off gets it moving. Not unusual at all. The arrestor might fix it. One thing is for sure. It's easier and cheaper than the alternate solution, which is to secure the pipe.
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On Dec 4, 10:54am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

First, and only because I can't see your house from where I'm sitting, I have to ask: Are you sure you don't have a PRV? Mine is hidden behind an access panel in the basement bathroom. For a while, after I remodeled the bathroom but hadn't put in the access panel yet, it was actually hidden behind the ceiling drywall. If you can't visually inspect the plumbing from the meter to the first fixture or junction that splits off to a fixture, then perhaps you have one and just haven't found it.
Second, maybe you need one. Have you actually measured the pressure to see what it is? Checking the pressure is pretty simple with one of these, as long as you have a hose spigot type faucet to connect it to.
http://www.gemplers.com/img/water-pressure-gauge-171555.jpg
If these noises are fairly new, then something must have changed. Who knows if the local water authority did something to increase your pressure. You could call and ask. When my noises started, there was increase of about 20 PSI in the house pressure, so it didn't take all that much. If the water authority did something to raise the pressure beyond what your plumbing likes, maybe you now need to install a PRV.
One note on checking the pressure at a hose spigot: In my house, both the front and back hose spigots are plumbed in before the PRV so I get full street pressure to my hoses. When I want to check my house pressure, I use the utility sink which has a faucet with hose spigot threads and that I know to be plumbed after the PRV.
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Yes, the problem is fairly new. My basement is unfinished and I can clearly see the main pipe from the street, the meter, and then the pipe continues to the rest of the house, water heater, etc. There's no PRV. I can't imagine the plumber burying it in the wall upstairs. So, I'll assume there is no PRV.
The simple water pressure check is a good idea. I'll pick up one of those meters.
One theory I had is that perhaps there is a mechanical hammer suppressor which has failed. The repeating noise I hear is the internal plunger in the suppressor moving back and forth. Could that be plausible?
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*I wonder if the water meter could cause the noise? Have you tried calling the water company?
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We had banging in our pipes a few years back. After just about everyone on our street complained, the water authority was finally convinced that it had to be their system, not a individual problem in every house. They ended up replacing the main and the problem went away.
That's why I asked the OP if the problem was new. If it is, then maybe the water authority did something that increased his pressure and now he needs a PRV. I asked if he actually checked the pressure. We haven't see a response yet.
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I don't hear the noise in the basement, where the meter is located. I only hear the noise upstairs.
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On 11/27/2012 12:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

faucet. Doesn't matter if hot or cold water. Doesn't matter which faucet or valve (e.g. sink, shower, toilet, etc.) I would describe the noise as a giant pendulum swinging back and forth, rubbing against the wall. It lasts for about 2 or 3 seconds. I can't imaging a pipe swinging loose like that. I've tried cutting holes in walls to find a loose pipe, but no luck. I have copper piping throughout.

You may have "Wall Cooties". The noise of running water inside pipes disturbs them and they become very active attacking the pipes which they perceive as a threat. Their little teeth aren't hard enough to penetrate metal pipes but they've been known to harm some types of plastic pipes. ^_^
TDD
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Who told you that you could get rid of a water hammer by draining and then re-pressurizing the pipes? Go find him and give him a slap on the face. You may need to install a water hammer arrestor.
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Do you often slap people who offer valid suggestions?
Many older homes have air chambers - vertical stubs of pipes - as part of the plumbing system. Over time they can become filled with water and water hammer can result.
Draining the system and re-pressurizing the pipes can refill the chambers with air.
See the image near the bottom of this page...
http://www.renovation-headquarters.com/water%20hammer.htm
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wrote:

Yes, good suggestion. I've seen these in a couple of houses that I've lived in -- usually they're just a few inches of pipe with a cap. And they do work.
Tomsic
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There was a recent thread about this, and the capped pipe hammer arrestor seems widely judged to be ineffective compared to a mechanical arrestor. I checked out a number of internet sources to get a handle on this. The capped pipes fill with water as the air is absorbed by the underlying water. You'll see the time they become saturated ranging from weeks to years, depending on application. I was interested in this since every house I've lived in - Chicago area - had an 18" capped pipe hammer arrestor on both hot and cold lines. Usually one set over the laundry tub, as in my current house. This is galvanized plumbing. None of the houses suffered water hammer with many years of the plumbing not being drained to refill the arrestors with air. But it's quite possible that no hammer occurs anyway even without arrestors. I saw no actual test procedures for determining saturation times. Just "they lose their air." Since I know a bit about air and water interaction from my boilerman days, that's all reasonable. But I have also done maintenance on hot water heating systems that have air-filled expansion tanks, usually 5-10 gallons. They can go many years with very little water intrusion. Without testing, I'm on the fence about my 18" arrestors. I've actually thought about testing them by replacing the nipples with clear pipe - if I could find some. But since I don't have hammer and I'm lazy - nah. I do lean toward mechanical arrestors if I did a new install of quick-closing valves. They don't add much cost.
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wrote:

re: "...and the capped pipe hammer arrestor seems widely judged to be ineffective compared to a mechanical arrestor"
What were they basing the comparison on?
I guess I could agree that all else being equal, a mechanical arrestor that will never fill with water is better than an 18" vertical extension that might at some time become saturated - even if it takes years - but to call the latter "ineffective" seems a bit harsh.
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On Fri, 30 Nov 2012 10:07:04 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

Time that they acually work to arrest hammer.

When I looked at it there were "authoritative" voices saying that capped piped arrestors would be ineffective after a few days or weeks. That, or even a year, is ineffective to me. Nobody is going to want to drain their water system every year if there's an alternative that isn't costly. As I said, I saw no actual testing data, but there was enough "noise" to make me doubt they retained an air cushion as long as I had always assumed. I recall one guy who maintained an irrigation system saying he found that air chambers became saturated too quickly for efficient maintenance.. Can't find that now. It's not easy finding any "science" on this, but I came up with a couple things that were compelling in coming to doubt capped pipe arrestors.
Testing finding capped pipe ineffective. But this link comes from Sioux Chief, a mechanical arrestor mfg. FWIW, I think the State Farm name adds slight credibility. http://tinyurl.com/cdp3vnz . Here's the link to the so-called "United States Testing Laboratory" paper on arrestors. You have to click twice to open the pdf. Although I don't know its bona fides, note the paper appears to be produced under the auspices of "THE PLUMBING AND DRAINAGE INSTITUTE" And further the foreward states, "The Plumbing & Drainage Institute is an association of companies engaged in the manufacture of plumbing products." hehe.
http://tinyurl.com/d9cmfyl
Florida code disallowing capped pipe arrestors. www.pinellascounty.org/build/PDF/wh15.pdf
Anyway, I wish I had transparent plastic pipe for my capped pipe arrestors so I could see how fast they became saturated. But since I have no audible water hammer it would only be for curiosity's sake. And it wouldn't prove much, since location, turbulence, flow rate, etc., play a role, and that's different in different households and for different applications.
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<stuff snipped>

You might be able to tell by tapping the pipe with a small brad hammer. I assume the section that's submerged will sound a little different than the section that's got air trapped in it.
You could try transparent aluminum. Scotty invented it in one of the Star Trek films - the only good one - the one about the whales. (-:
-- Bobby G.
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For those that believe that the simple capped tube full of air works, ask yourself this. Have any experience with well water systems? If you had an old non-bladder type tank, what happens if the system to keep it charged with air fails, ie the air control valve gets stuck, etc? These tanks have about half their volume in air and without a functioning system to constantly replenish the air, within months the air is gone, the tank is water-logged and the pump short cycles. The simple physics is that air will dissolve into water. You can drain it, get air back into the tank, but within months the problem is back again. That's also why bladder type tanks are used now. They eliminate the recharge system and are far less prone to failure.
IMO the capped tube idea is close to useless. Unless you want to drain your system a couple times a year. They arrestors with closed gas section, like a shock absorber solve that problem.
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