If you’ve ever opened your tap only to be greeted by an eerie wail or the sound of someone beating your house with a sledge hammer, or even if you have had to do the walk of shame back to your dinner guests after flushing your upstairs toilet, then you will understand the need to soundproof your piping.
The causes of these phenomena can be rather complex, however in this article we will explore practical solutions to this unwanted noise.
I will start off with some explanations on what this happens, and then go into a real easy guide how to soundproof noisy pipes on the cheap, with simple instructions.
What Causes Noisy Pipes?
There are three main factors that cause noise in a pipe, these could be water hammer, high water pressure and thermal effects. Some lesser causes include loose piping and partially opened valves.
Handy Hint: Before you consider soundproofing your noisy pipes, go through a process of eliminating the 3 major factors that will create noise – see those below.
Elimination 1: Water Hammer & Fixes
Water is incompressible, this means that when you open a tap and shut it off immediately that energy needs to go somewhere, and this creates a lot of vibration within the line.
Usually pipe systems have dampeners installed. In their most basic form they are long vertical pipes that contain air.
When a tap is shut off the force generated in the water pushes up this pipe and compresses the air. This acts like a shock absorber for the water, thus eliminating water hammer.
Over time these systems will fill with water and their effectiveness will be reduced. If you start having noisy water hammer effects all of a sudden then it might be worth draining the entire system allowing the water hammer shock absorber to refill with air.
There are many different types of water hammer arrestors but they all work on a similar basis.
But before you do any changes on your piping you should try to drain your water system by shutting off the mains supply and letting your water drain out of a tap. This will allow the water hammer arrestors to refill with air.
If you still have water hammer issues after this you might need to install one or two new arrestors, these are relatively cheap and can be purchased on Amazon. Unless you are a skilled plumber, do not install these yourself.
Elimination 2: High Water Pressure & Fixes
Excessive pressure within your lines can also cause noisy pipes.
Most homes have a pressure regulating valve on their main supply line. If you do not have one then get a plumber to install one, you can purchase these on Amazon.
These regulators are not that expensive and worth fitting as high-water pressure can damage delicate appliances like washing machines or dishwashers. By installing a pressure regulating valve, you can help to protect these appliances and save yourself money in the long run.
Elimination 3: Thermal Effects & Fixes
If your water pipes are copper-based, then they could be the culprits.
Copper is very sensitive to temperature and when heated or cooled it will experience expansion or contraction. If your pipes have a tight clearance between them and any structure, they will rub and push against this structure causing noise.
The simplest solution would be to lower the temperature of your geezer so that the pipes do not expand as much as they usually do.
If this is not practical, then you may want to install isolating brackets on your pipes and add rubber matting on all the areas where the pipes rub against something.
Another possible cause could be loose piping.
While you are checking all the mounting points you might want to consider applying rubber spacers between the fitting and the wall as this will stop any vibrations from reaching your wall, thus dramatically reducing the sound.
How to Soundproof Your Noisy Pipes
If you have eliminated all possibilities detailed above, then it may be necessary to apply sound proofing material directly to your pipes.
Do not use thermal insulation to soundproof your pipes as this simply will not work.
You will need a heavy dense material to dampen the pipe vibrations and subsequent sound waves. Only a heavy material can do this.
A typical product on the market is a type of mass loaded vinyl (MLV) you can buy on Amazon.
This is a highly dense and flexible material making it ideal for sound proofing noisy pipes.
The material can be wrapped around a pipe and either be taped into place using duct tape or by using a few cable ties to fix it in place.
It’s really easy!
Handy Hint: Before applying the MLV around the noisy pipe, first wrap it in polyurethane foam. This material will dramatically reduce the sound transmission through the pipe.
Make sure to complexly follow the process of elimination as it might save you having to do any soundproofing to reduce the noise coming from your pipes.
If that doesn’t resolve the noise situation, then do the small DIY job that I described which should in reality cost no more than $100 in most cases.