Neighbors’ Noisy Plumbing is a Nuisance

Q. I live in an older (1908), wooden duplex with neighbors on one side of me. Every time my neighbors turn on their water, I hear a loud, persistent noise, much like a foghorn. This has been going on for several years, ever since my neighbors had the pipes in their kitchen, bathroom, and crawl space replaced. In the three years since the work was done, the noise has varied from nonexistent, to loud, to soft. They have had the plumbing checked out by two different plumbers. One plumber claimed that there was nothing he could do. The other plumber said that the pressure regulator was the problem, and he replaced that part. For a few weeks, there was no noise, but then it came back. On another occasion, a plumber came out to repair a leak under their kitchen sink. Again, the noise went away temporarily, but then it came back.

These noisy pipes have become quite a nuisance. At the front of the house, the pipes for both sides of the duplex enter the crawl space from the main. The pipes touch each other in that location, which I believe contributes to the volume level. The pipes then run under the center of the duplex. What can I do?

A. This is a tricky situation. Here are some suggestions.

  • First, try to put some insulation between the two supply pipes at the front of the house. This will help to minimize any noise produced by vibration. Place a thin piece of rubber between the two sets of pipes.
  • Sometimes pipes will moan because there is a valve that is not fully open. Check under your sinks, toilets, and washing machine, and make sure that all of the valves are all the way open. Ask your neighbors to check theirs, too. Check the main water supply valve to the house, too.
  • A faulty rubber washer in a faucet can also cause a moaning noise in the pipes. Over time, the rubber begins to disintegrate, and little bits of the rubber can impede the flow of water and cause the moaning sound. Replace the rubber washers in your faucets, and ask your neighbor to do the same.
  • The new pipes that were installed in your neighbor’s home several years ago could be rubbing against wood where they attach to floor joists or run through the walls. Climb into the crawl space and take a look. Ask someone to turn the water on and off while you are in the crawl space so you can check it out.
  • Water hammer could also be the culprit. Typically, water hammer sounds like a rattle or bang, but in some cases, it can also cause the moaning sound that you described. The fact that the sound temporarily ceased after plumbing work was performed indicates that water hammer could potentially be the problem. When the work was performed, the water was turned off. Turning off the water relieved pressure in the system. You can check this out by draining the water from the system and listening for the noise to abate or recur.

If you are having noisy plumbing problems, call the experts at Scott English Plumbing. We can help you find the source of the problem and resolve it quickly. Nobody wants to lay awake at night listening to the pipes moan and groan, and there is no reason that you should have to endure that. Get in touch with Scott English Plumbing today, and let us resolve your noisy plumbing nuisance.