Clicking/thumping sound when hot water runs


  #1  
Old 10-30-05, 08:12 AM
birdgs
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Clicking/thumping sound when hot water runs

I have lived in my house for 1.5 years, and now that the weather is getting colder, a problem that happened the first winter has reappeared. The house is 2 stories and has a finished basement. It also has a septic system in the back yard.

In one of the upstairs bathrooms, whenever the shower and/or sink is run when the weather is cool outside, an extremely loud clicking/thumping sound is generated. It can get so loud that it wakes a teenager located on the other side of the wall. The sound gets louder in relation to how cold it is outside. We'll sometimes let the house get down to 66 degrees at night time--thus, the clicking sound gets louder. The sound will also happen more frequently in the cold weather. It can happen as frequent as once every ten seconds.

All throughout the hot, Alabama summer, I didn't hear the sound once. Now that we've had a few nights in the 30's, the sound is back again.

To address the problem, I've drained the hot water heater that is located in the attic above the bathroom. I've also secured the insulated hot/cold water pipes that run in the attic.

I'm at a loss. Any other ideas I can try? Thank you.
 
  #2  
Old 11-01-05, 03:32 PM
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Thermal expansion/contraction. What type of pipes do you have? Could be drain or water in this case, depending on the type.
 
  #3  
Old 11-01-05, 04:59 PM
birdgs
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All water lines that I can see are copper. Most of the lines run inside the walls, including the troublesome shower. I would have to cut a hole to do any repairs.

One point I didn't mention before is that I am on a well system. When we first moved into the house, we noticed right away that everything the water touched was getting stained blue.

We found out that our water is very acidic, so right away, we bought a Culligan system that treated the acidity. When the water line was cut to plumb in the acid neutralizer, there was blue/green corrosion in the pipe. We haven't had any water leaks, so I don't believe our pipes are weakening.

Any advice you have will be greatly appreciated!
 
  #4  
Old 11-01-05, 05:14 PM
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Run cold water only in the fixture that seems to be causing the noise and let us know if the sound diminishes or is non-existent.
 
  #5  
Old 11-01-05, 05:50 PM
birdgs
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I will do what you suggest, but I do know that when the shower is first run, the thumping sound does not happen until the hot water reaches the faucet. It takes approximately 30 seconds for the water to run hot after the shower is first turned on. The thumping continues until the water is shut off. Also, the colder the temperature outside, the louder the thumping is. During the April through mid-October timeframe, I didn't hear the thumping once.

I guess I'm stumped as to whether the hot water running through the copper pipes causes the problem (like expansion or contraction) or if the thumping happens after the hot water runs down the PVC drain into the septic system. I'm guessing that the drain line is 3" PVC because there is an exposed drain line (not the same drain line) in a different part of the house in the same closet where the well water enters the house.

Unfortunately, other than this 3' X 3' closet, my entire basement is finished.

Thank you for the help.
 
  #6  
Old 11-01-05, 05:53 PM
birdgs
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One additional question--when a hot water heater is located in the attic of a two story home, is the house normally plumbed with the copper lines running down to a shower faucet, or are the copper water lines normally placed in the sub-floor and then run up to the fixtures?
 
  #7  
Old 11-01-05, 05:55 PM
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That's the reason I asked, it is the thermal contraction/expansion of the drain lines moving over a tight spot, whether it be strapping or across wood.

The only way to fix this is to open up everywhere the drain line is, find out where it is rubbing and cut the area out where it is rubbing. A difficult task sometimes.
 
  #8  
Old 11-01-05, 06:01 PM
birdgs
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So you believe that the drain line would be a more likely suspect compared to the copper supply lines? If it were the drain line, at least it would be easier to trouble-shoot since there would be less horizontal movement, and I could poke small holes through a wall to trace it.

I find it scary that expansion and contraction could make such a terrible noise. Thank you again!
 
  #9  
Old 11-01-05, 06:14 PM
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Yep. One of the downfalls of plastic, it grows and contracts during temperature variances and it can make a vast array of sounds that have people thinking something major is wrong, when really it is the piping slowly moving across a tight spot against the piping.
 
  #10  
Old 11-01-05, 06:21 PM
birdgs
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I'll guess I'll troubleshoot the drain line. I'll have to really work on my sheetrock repair skills before attempting the project.

BTW - I like your website. It's helpful looking at pictures of drain lines and other water supply lines. If/when I find the problem, I'll finish this posting. Thank you for the advice and for your time!
 
 

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