04:25AM | 06/12/05
Member Since: 06/10/05
1 lifetime posts
My water pipes started vibrating about a month ago. I've lived in this house for 18 years and this is the first time this has happened. It doesn't happen all the time. It seems to only happen when only one water valve is open (a sink faucet turned on, the washing machine filling, or a toilet flushing), and it seems to do it more often in the early morning.

I've heard that excessive water pressure could cause this, but I have a pressure reducer valve on the main water line coming into the house.

Could it be that I just need to readjust the pressure reducer valve (maybe due to an increase in water pressure feeding the house)?


05:11AM | 06/15/05
Member Since: 08/29/04
227 lifetime posts
Actually, the reason your pipes vibrate is typically caused by the toilet valve or by expansion and contraction. Inside the toilet is whats called a float valve or ball ****. There is a diaphram inside the valve that gets old after a few years. The oils in the rubber a washed away under pressure so it becomes hard and brittle like a super ball. Normally it is soft and pliable like a baby's skin. This allows it to form around the opening inside where the water comes in (called a seat because the diaphram sits against it shutting off the water). When the gasket is hard, it comes down and instead of forming, bounces against the seat, letting a little water (very little) into the toilet. Then it shuts off again. It does this so fast and so often, it sets up a wave in the water. This wave is exactly like the vibrations of a trumpet players lips. Since your piping is probably copper (brass trumpet) it resonates with the vibration and causes the pipes in the house to vibrate. Replacing the fill valve (they are about 12 dollars) will generally solve the problem. You can test this, by opening the lid on the toilet and pulling up lightly on the float arm. If the noise goes away, you've solved your problem. If it doesn't.

You probably have expansion and contraction. Copper pipe will expand up to 3" in 100 feet from the change in temperature of the incoming water. As water sits in the pipe it equalizes to the ambient temperature around the piping. When you run fresh water into the pipes, it contracts with the incoming cold water (underground temperature is about 55 degrees) and expands with the incoming hot temperature (around 130 deg). Therefore, as it moves it rubs against the wood structure. When the building was new, the wood still had moisture in it from the sap and water. As the wood sits this moisture evaporates and the wood becomes dry. The piping is run through the studs and joists by drilling holes and feeding the pipe. Sometimes it is strapped to the studs. After a while it begins to make noises, because the holes are either too tight or strapped too rigidly.

Good Luck

Raymond VinZant Plumbing Prof.


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