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OT - Bizarre plumbing issue - humming pipe


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Had an odd thing happen when I showered this morning - the shower head pipe began vibrating, humming / buzzing almost violently at times, and seemingly at the typical 60hz hum. Nothing else in the house that I can find was acting that way. It continued after I shut the water off, then I went around opening and closing various faucets to see if it was some odd pressure thing, no change. I went downstairs to the water heater, I know they can sometimes develop 60hz vibration if there's mineral deposits on the element (electric), but nothing detectable there (though it's a safe bet the element is well coated with mineral crud). There's nothing electrical or mechanical that I know of in contact with the pipe in question. I just got home from work some 11 hours later, and it's still at it, buzzing away. Again, nothing else in the house, including the water heater, seems to be affected.

 

WTF? I guess I'm still assuming it's the heater, but shouldn't there be some sign of it at the heater itself? I guess I can shut the heater off and see what happens.

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Could it be water hammer?

 

And BTW, why are you using electric to heat water in New York?

That has got to be the most expensive way to do it.

No natural gas service in your area?

 

If it's water hammer, you can solve that easily and cheaply with a T, a short length of pipe, and a cap.

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Could it be water hammer?


And BTW, why are you using electric to heat water in New York?

That has got to be the most expensive way to do it.

No natural gas service in your area?


If it's water hammer, you can solve that easily and cheaply with a T, a short length of pipe, and a cap.

 

 

A water hammer should go away when I open other faucets on that line, shouldn't it? And it wouldn't be continually vibrating at a fixed frequency for hours on end, would it?

 

As for why - yeah, the house was built all electric, no gas service within 1/2 a mile or more. I should have converted to LP a long time ago, just haven't gotten to it.

 

The weird thing is I've been here for 17+ years, first time anything like this has happened.

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Water hammer is a noise that starts/occurs when a valve is shut off, not when water is running. If your bath/shower has a diverter in the tub spout, I'd suspect that it's not closing completely. When this happens, some water leaks out of the tub spout and it will make noise from a high-pitched whine to a low gutteral groan.

 

If that's not it, let me know what the tub plumbingis set up like, make of faucet, what diverter is where, how old, etc. I'll look at this in the morning....it's bedtime for this cat.

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Water hammer is a noise that starts/occurs when a valve is shut off, not when water is running. If your bath/shower has a diverter in the tub spout, I'd suspect that it's not closing completely. When this happens, some water leaks out of the tub spout and it will make noise from a high-pitched whine to a low gutteral groan.


If that's not it, let me know what the tub plumbingis set up like, make of faucet, what diverter is where, how old, etc. I'll look at this in the morning....it's bedtime for this cat.

 

I've dealt with water hammers before, never heard anything like this. It's a constant vibration, fixed frequency, whether the water if flowing in that, or any other, fixture.

 

Ok, now it gets weird: I went down to the breaker box, shut off both halves of the water heater, as well as the pump. Back upstairs, still humming away. Back downstairs, shut off all power, find my way back up with a flashlight, still humming just the same. Open all the fixtures in the room, let pressure drain for at least 30 seconds, no difference, still humming. As far as I can tell, going on 12 hours non stop now, no changes. I even removed the showerhead fixture so that I just have the empty pipe coming out of the wall.

 

:freak:

 

Moving on to paranormal explanations, I suppose. Or perhaps I've found some bizarre new perpetual motion machine energy source. Uh-huh.

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Could be a bad valve that is leaking hot water into your cold water line.

?

When you shut off pump and opened the offending valve there was no flow, right?

 

 

Nope, still had flow because it runs off a pressure tank after the pump, which I didn't entirely drain down.

 

Interesting theory, though, the shower valve is one of those 70s style "one big knob" things.

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That wasn't it either. Shut down the water valves, drained off all pressure, still humming.

 

Then I suddenly figured out what it is, and now I feel like a complete idiot - I shave in the shower, and I have one of those battery powered Gillette vibrating razors. I keep it in a wire rack that hangs from the shower pipe. I apparently accidentally turned it back on this morning after I was done using it, sympathetic vibration in the long stretch of unanchored pipe and the wall itself amplified the effect, must have had some resonant frequency thing going on.

 

D'oh! :D

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That wasn't it either. Shut down the water valves, drained off all pressure, still humming.


Then I suddenly figured out what it is, and now I feel like a complete idiot - I shave in the shower, and I have one of those battery powered Gillette vibrating razors. I keep it in a wire rack that hangs from the shower pipe. I apparently accidentally turned it back on this morning after I was done using it, sympathetic vibration in the long stretch of unanchored pipe and the wall itself amplified the effect, must have had some resonant frequency thing going on.


D'oh!
:D

 

Hahahahaha.

 

I love when stuff like that happens because it always make me feel like a total ass.

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The amazing thing is that the noise was far louder, and the vibration of the pipe far stronger when I held it tight in my hand, than I ever would have imagined possible from the tiny little motor in the razor. But that was indeed it, it's all gone now.

 

What threw me is that there was some (relatively normal) minor water hammering type noise going on just when I shut off the shower this morning, so I headed off down a trail of assumptions...

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