Plumbing noises are always worth keeping an ear and eye out for because they’re never just noises. Sometimes an unusual noise coming from your home’s plumbing is your first indication that something isn’t right. You could think of plumbing noises as an early warning system. When you hear a unique plumbing noise, try and pay attention! You could end up saving your plumbing system–and a good amount of money as well.

Some “early warning” plumbing noises are especially more notable than others. If you have any of the following four plumbing noises, it always worthwhile to check them out. Here’s some simple ways to to track down your sound, what’s probably making it, and what you should do about it:

Loud “bang” After Turning Off the Water

This sounds like a loud hammering or banging sound. It happens after you turn off water that was flowing into a sink drain. Your banging sound is actually a specific plumbing phenomenon called “water hammer.” Mots Long Beach Plumbing Experts will tell you that water hammer happens when water that’s rushing through pipes suddenly comes to a complete stop. The force of the water suddenly stopping creates a shockwave that reverberates through your pipes as the hammering sound. If the pipes rattle and smack against other things during the shockwave, the water hammer sounds even louder.

Water hammer generally starts happening when the devices in the pipes designed to stop it stop working. Most pipes have air chambers built into them. When the water hammer shockwave hits these air chambers, they compress and absorb the force similar to shock absorbers. Over time, however, the air chambers may fill up with water. When air chambers fill with water, they can’t compress the shockwave, and you end up with water hammer. Draining the water in your pipes’ air chambers should be a good solution to the problem.

A Whistling Shower Head

Most of the time this sounds like a high-pitched whistling coming from your shower head whenever you’re taking a shower. It can happen intermittently or constantly while the shower is running. Furthermore, this noise could be happening for a couple reasons. Most likely, something inside the shower head is partially blocking water flow. Minerals and sediment can build up inside shower heads just like any other plumbing part. Shower head clogs are especially likely if you don’t use a water softener. Cleaning the shower head should do the trick most of the time.

If your shower head still whistles after you clean it, then there might be a problem with another aspect of the shower component. Most likely the washer in the shower faucet diverter is worn out or damaged. If you only hear the whistling when you use hot water, then the diverter is probably the problem. Replacing shower diverter washers is a fast and easy job. If the washer isn’t the problem, either, then you should try replacing the shower head entirely.

“Gurgling” in Drain

This “gurgling” noise usually occurs after you turn off water running in a sink. It could sound like water’s struggling to move through the pipes, or like water is “bubbling” in the drain. In addition, the sound could come from the drain itself, or you could hear it further down, near the trap. When a drain gurgles, it’s typically because the pipe vent isn’t working the right way. The sound you’re hearing is air rushing past the water in your sink trap.

When water moves through a pipe it pushes air down the pipe, developing a vacuum behind it. Vents typically exist to add air back into the pipes after water pushes it down. If vents are blocked, air has to find another way into the pipes–usually through the drain. When air pushes through to fill the vacuum, it distresses the water in the trap. Clearing the drain vent should give air an avenue to enter the pipe and solve your gurgling problem.

“Popping” Noise in Basement or Utility Closet

This “popping” noise can sound like popcorn cooking or at times like a dull thunking noise. It can be very silent or surprisingly loud. The noises generally come from wherever your water heater is installed. It is a bit hard to notice unless you’re listening for it, but the noise generally happens after you use your hot water. Typically, the popping noise is the sound of water boiling up from under sediment inside the water heater’s tank.

Sediment tends to build up inside water tank tanks naturally over time–especially if your home has hard water. This sediment settles into the bottom of the water heater tank and traps some water underneath it. When the tank heats water, the water trapped beneath the sediment begins to boil.

Bubbles from the boiling water have a hard time escaping from under the sediment. These bubbles are what you hear “pop” with great force. Usually, flushing your water heater tank should do the trick. If it does not, you may need to replace the tank completely. By identifying and doing something about these plumbing noises early, you can get away from larger plumbing mishaps.