DIAGNOSING A TOILET NOISE
MAY 31, 2017
Toilet noises can be disconcerting, especially if it is one you have not encountered before. But knowing when a toilet noise warrants a call to the plumber can be frustrating and stressful. Here, we break down some common toilet noises to help you diagnose any plumbing issues you may be having.
COMMON TOILET NOISES
Water hammer (also known as water knock) is a pretty frequent toilet noise complaint, and can even occur in other parts of your plumbing as well. According to a New York Times article, the loud noise described as water hammer occurs because:
“Water is not compressible, so when the flow inside a pipe is suddenly slammed to a stop while it is running rapidly – like when a washing machine valve snaps off or a faucet is closed quickly – the momentum of the water causes it to slam forward and bang around against the sides of the pipe and the inside of the fittings. This causes the hammering sound. In addition, it can cause the pipes to chatter and vibrate.”
If you find that after flushing, there is a loud hammering toilet noise, it may be that it is the sudden stopping of the water flow as described above. Try reducing the flow of water to your toilet by adjusting the shut-off valve. If that does not work, consider installing a regulated fill valve. This will reduce the pressure of the water filling your toilet tank.
HIGH-PITCHED SQUEALING OR WHISTLING
If you notice that after you flush, there is a high-pitched toilet noise as the toilet’s tank is refilling, do not panic. The most likely culprit is the ballcock valve (also known as a float valve). Luckily, this is an extremely simple and cheap fix. In fact, although the issue can sometimes be resolved by adjusting the existing ballcock mechanism because the parts are so cheap, many people go ahead and replace the whole thing since they are dismantling it anyway. Enterprising homeowners may choose to make this replacement themselves. If you are not comfortable or do not have the time, a qualified plumber should be able to make the repair quickly, getting rid of this funky toilet noise in virtually no time at all. Furthermore, this problem happens a lot more frequently with toilet ballcock systems. Upgrading to a fill valve while you are at it may spare you from having to undergo the exercise again so soon in the future.
This toilet noise almost always happens in the middle of the night, and especially after watching a scary movie … Your toilet suddenly seems to flush on its own. Have no fear! What is actually probably happening is that the water in your toilet tank is slowly seeping out, probably through a faulty flapper. Once the float gets below a certain level, the water switches on and voila, the toilet seems to magically flush on its own.
To determine whether or not the flapper really is the culprit, put some food dye in the toilet tank. Wait for about 30 minutes and then look to see if any of the food coloring has traveled into the bowl. If so, you have caught your ghost, so to speak. Luckily, replacing the toilet flapper is another quick and easy job that you can tackle yourself or count on a plumber to complete for an incredibly reasonable price.
Hissing is another common toilet noise complaint that can often be chalked up to a deteriorating flapper. Alternatively, it can also be caused by water draining into the overflow tube. You see, when the toilet tank fills to its appropriate level, the fill valve or toilet ballcock stops it from running. If the fill valve or toilet ballcock are not adjusted to the appropriate level, water then begins filling into the overflow valve. By making sure the fill valve or toilet ballcock are set to a level below the overflow valve, this problem can be easily rectified.
Gurgling is among the most perplexing toilet noises because its source is not so easily traced. A gurgling toilet could be the result of a blocked sewer drain, blockage in a vent stack or a blockage in the toilet itself. If you find that your toilet is making a gurgling noise, it is one issue that is best on tackled on your own, unless you are a plumber yourself (in which case, we are flattered that you are reading our article). Avoid using that toilet if possible and call a professional ASAP to make sure that that annoying toilet noise does not turn into a full-fledged plumbing nightmare.
Got a toilet noise that we did not outline in this article? Or did you find the problem and are ready to have one of our plumbers come out and fix it for you? Either way, feel free to give us a call or use our online form to schedule a same-day service to tackle any and all of your plumbing needs.