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  1. #1
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    Dec 1969
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    Oak Harbor, WA, USA.
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    72

    vibrating water pipes???

    Okay, my neighbor's house (isn't it always ;) has vibrating water pipes. The home is newer, and there has been no recent work on any of his water systems.

    So...what causes vibration in water pipes? If it's air, how does the air get introduced when the system integrity has not been compromised. His pipes have never made these noises before, and they are pretty annoying (for his wife, they don't bother me or him ;) any suggestions? thoughts?


  2. #2
    Member
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    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    Hey, Ed.

    Your neighbor has one of two problems - either "water hammer" or expansion slippage.

    By "vibrating pipes", do you mean that the pipes do a "clack-clack" when a faucet is turned off or the toilet stops refilling? That's water hammer, and it's cause by not ENOUGH air in the pipes.

    Water hammer is slightly dangerous to the integrity of the plumbing, and can become bad enough to actually burst fittings. It's caused by... lemme back up. Under some sink in the house (usually the furthest from the water supply), maybe inside a wall, there should be two little "water hammer arrestors". They're naught but two pieces of pipe that stick straight up with caps on their tops. When the house is first wetted up, those pipes trap and hold pockets of air. The air serves as a shock absorber, preventing water hammer.

    Ya see, water doesn't compress much - so when you stop its flow suddenly it "bangs" explosively without some kinda' absorber in the system. That "bang" echoes up & down the pipes at the speed of sound through water. That "bang", incidentally, is the operating principle behind the "hydraulic ram", which is a super-neat water pump for rural people because it doesn't require ANY energy source except that of running water. It can pump water a huge distance uphill and STILL blow pipes apart if you cap it up there... ya gotta let it flow.

    If the pipes simply "groan", though, that's a different story. This is something commonly heard while hot water is running, and it's because of hot expanding pipes slipping slowly through holes in the joists. Takes a LONG time to do any damage, but it can be irritating to some people. Easy solution is to stick something slick through the hole around the pipe - even a playing card wrapping the pipe inside each joist through-hole can make it stop. Much harder to do if the pipes are all hidden behind finished ceilings, though.

    EDIT: How remiss of me! You can STOP water hammer by shutting off the water supply entirely (better kill the water heater, too!), then draining ALL the water out of the house by opening two faucets (one hot, one cold) as low as possible and two more as high as possible. Give it plenty of time to drain, 'cause the water hammer arrestors take a while to "gulp".

    Our Albuquerque house didn't have ANY, so I added a set under the kitchen sink. They were made of 3" PVC pipe, and they looked like a rack of weapons of mass destruction... but they worked great. Once in a while I had to recharge 'em with air through the Schrader valve I thoughtfully installed at their intersection.

    -- Tim --

    Here is a test to see if your job here on earth is finished:
    If you're alive, it isn't.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Tucson, AZ, USA.
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    2,548

    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    I think I might need one of those - or atleast I need to purge the system like Tim said.

    I can't stroll through these forums without learnen somin!!! Thanks! :)

  4. #4
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    Jul 2002
    Location
    Jamestown, OH, USA.
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    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    Actually I went a little off in my reply and gave a rookie answer to a big-league question. I played smart-ss which I shouldn't have. My apologies to all of you.

    I just had seen the hammer valves in some article and it looked like a simpler fix/answer for the DIYer. My vaguely rembered reference showed an easy install by just "T"ing it in at the farthest point from the water source and you didn't necessarily have to kill all water to the house to do it.

    I typed without thinking. :( Just my $0.02.

  5. #5
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    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    THAT looks like a... a... never mind. I saw one once. :) :) :)

    Back when I put the missiles under the sink in Albuquerque, Lowes and Home Despot were probably not even yet in operation. We certainly didn't have anything like that there. Not that we do here, either, but back there & then we were lucky to get PVC pipe.

    They keep coming out with new & handy stuff like that "Coppery Dan" - that's pretty cool. As cool as the sweat slipjoint coupling that can be installed in a 6" space without shoving any pipes around... or cut down for even smaller spaces.

    -- Tim --

    Here is a test to see if your job here on earth is finished:
    If you're alive, it isn't.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2002
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    Takoma Park, MD.
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    487

    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    Oh My.

    I think we might get this site on the parental blocking lists with a few more pictures like that!

    Interesting topic.

    What about vibrating (note, not hammering) heating pipes for a hot water radiator system. Is this the same as the expansion problem Tim describes above?

    Tim

  7. #7
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    Nath Saburbin Bahstin, Massachusetts, USA.
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    4,570

    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    >What about vibrating (note, not hammering) heating pipes for
    >a hot water radiator system. Is this the same as the
    >expansion problem Tim describes above?

    Yes and no . . . the pipe itself expands, but what I usually hear is the popping of the little aluminum fins as they move across their supports in the baseboard. There is not to much to do about that . . . if you hear other noises (swishing and sloshing) you've got air . . .check out my post in the thread linked below.

    http://forums.woodworking.com/dcforu...umID14/72.html

    --Deathwish

    When it comes to
    woodworking and buying
    tools, I always think back to
    my grandfathers advice on
    golf . . . "it's not the arrows,
    it's the indian.''

  8. #8
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    Sep 2002
    Location
    shakopee, mn, us.
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    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    I'd like to add a second possibility. This may not be infrastructural but instead caused by a single event. A common cause of this, especially when it is a new phnenomenon is dishwasher valves. When the valves go bad in a dishwasher they can often rattle and bang the pipes as they call for and stop the flow of water. Depending on the extent, they will even chatter as if you're running a sawzall on the pipe.

    Before cutting into any plumbing, I'd investigate the items using the water. It may not be a question of delivery.

    - Chris

    "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."
    - Frank Lloyd Wright (1868-1959)

  9. #9
    Member
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    Nath Saburbin Bahstin, Massachusetts, USA.
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    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    >Hate to tell you this, but..... They sell Water Hammer
    >Arresters at Lowe's, probably HD too.
    >
    >Basically all a hammer valve does is create a permanent air
    >pocket.

    I had one of those . . . it eventually stopped workin due to deposits (and I don't even have 'hard' water).

    I did a couple quick drawings . . . one showing the hammer in the wall that is described above . . . the other an alternate that can fit between the joists in your basement.

    Personally, I went a little overboard doing mine. I did a 3/4" x 18" high hammer (of the second style) on EACH side of my whole-house water filter . . . it completely eliminated my hammer problems. I did it on both sides, since I split my feed to the house after the meter into two parts . . . unfiltered (outside spigots and WC) and filtered (everything else). It's a two-stage filter, one for particle, one for taste/chlorine . . . and it made the water hammer STRONGER at first . . . I actually cracked a (50-or-so-year-old) pipe inside the wall going up to my shower control. No chance of that anymore . . . all that old brittle pipe is gone.

    --Deathwish

    When it comes to
    woodworking and buying
    tools, I always think back to
    my grandfathers advice on
    golf . . . "it's not the arrows,
    it's the indian.''

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Nath Saburbin Bahstin, Massachusetts, USA.
    Posts
    4,570

    RE: vibrating water pipes???

    >Actually I went a little off in my reply and gave a rookie
    >answer to a big-league question. I played smart-ss which I
    >shouldn't have. My apologies to all of you.

    No problem, it is a solution, but at least in my experience, not a permanent fix.

    One other note . . . the hammer (piece of pipe with a cap on it) is also sold in the big box stores as a complete pipe (called a 'Stub-out') with the cap in place (it's actually one piece of pipe, no joint, see below) and they are about $1 ($1.09 when I just checked HD's site) and 1/2" x 8" long. Pretty handy if you don't want to do a LOT of joints (or buy a 10' length of pipe for one or two hammers), or if you're not really good with a torch yet . . . and since there is no joint, there is no joint to fail . . . once you've done a few little projects, you'll have plenty of scrap pipe to make your own if the need arises :7 . . .and caps are *cheap* ;).

    --Deathwish

    When it comes to
    woodworking and buying
    tools, I always think back to
    my grandfathers advice on
    golf . . . "it's not the arrows,
    it's the indian.''

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