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    lucilee's Avatar
    lucilee Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Mar 2, 2007, 08:55 PM
    Dripping sound in wall and ceiling
    Hello - I have a perplexing problem. The past month or so I've noticed a distinct dripping sound in two places whenever I use any of the plumbing in my two-story townhouse. When I run the kitchen sink (w/ hot or cold water), I hear a dripping sound in the ceiling above the kitchen (and the sound quickly disappears) and more distinctly, a dripping sound in the first-floor bathroom wall (the common wall with my neighbor). When I flush the toilets upstairs or use any of the plumbing upstairs, I've run downstairs and the dripping sound in that wall is very loud and steady while, for example, the toilet is running. Once the toilet stops running, the sound immediately ceases but then I hear a drip... drip... drip at irregular intervals for a very long time afterwards. I've put my ear to the wall to try to decipher where in the wall its coming from, but I can't be sure. It's pretty loud though. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
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    #2

    Mar 3, 2007, 07:12 AM
    If there is no moisture that you can see chances are that you are experiencing contracting and expansion. Knocking, popping, creaking and crackling pipes are a common complaint, especially in colder weather. I can tell you what's happening and take the mystery out of it but you're not going to like the repair. When a draw is made on a hot water line the line expands against a pipe strap next to a stud and when you drain hot water from your tub or shower it goes into a chase that is a little cooler then room temperature. The heat expands the pipe causing it to rub against the stud to which it is pipe strapped. This is the sound you hear. As it cools it contracts and the noise is heard again. To repair it you must tear open the walls and locate the pipe strap that's causing the problem and shim it tight. Most people when they learn what causes it just elect to live with it. Regards, Tom
    busy1's Avatar
    busy1 Posts: 6, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Mar 16, 2007, 08:45 AM
    Hi there - I am by no means an expert, but I had a similar experience recently, although contained to our main shower. We replaced the shower head with a new one (actually, it's one of those handheld variety, so more of a shower fixture), and after that, every time we got done with a shower, there would be a loud dripping sound, seemingly right behind the overflow in the bathtub. It would go on for 10 minutes it seems! After awhile I got tired of it so stuck the old shower fixture back on (yeah, I saved it for some reason), and voilą, the drip sound was gone. Someone in another forum said I need a shower fixture with some water backflow release doohicky that lets water drain up where the fixture attaches to the pipe coming out of the wall - apparently this is pretty common he says, and I can see with the old fixture that's back on that there is a spot where water drains right in front of the threads. How does this relate to you? I guess I'm suggesting that maybe something isn't venting properly - but hopefully someone more qualified can suggest if there might be a relationship between my problem and yours.
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    lostinlakeview Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Feb 13, 2008, 05:43 PM
    I live in a three story townhouse and have the same problem. I think the source of the sound is much less worrisome that others may suggest.

    The common element here is that you and I both notice the dripping sound in our homes after using any plumbing equipment UPSTAIRS.

    What I believe is happening in my house - and probably yours - is that when you run a tap or flush a toilet upstairs, the water draining through the sewer pipes in the walls goes from a gush (in the seconds immediately after you flush the toilet) to a gradual drip as most of the water has drained away and just a few drops of water are left sitting in the pipes - which slowly DRIP, DRIP, DRIP away - free falling down the pipe into the basement.

    The pipe from your toilet, for example, will have a 90 degree turn from under your toilet across to the wall were another 90 degree turn meets a long section of straight vertical pipe that runs all the way from your second floor down to the basement... so the last remnants of water are "free falling" from the egde of the corner pipe all the way down that length of straight vertical pipe... and once those drips land on the next corner pipe (in your basement) they make a loud noise which echos throughout the pipe (which is now empty, as the bulk of water from the toilet flushing has already drained away). Essentially the empty pipe is acting as a long echo chamber and amplifying the drip.

    I hope this makes sense.

    It drove me nuts for weeks, as I was worried I had water dripping in my wall cavity... but my mind was put at ease once I flushed the toilet and wandered down to my basement. I waited for the dripping sound to commence and then placed by hand on the under side of the 90 degree turn in the sewer pipe in my basement (which connects to the long vertical piece that runs up the wall to the bathroom) - and sure enough I could feel the drip of water (well, technically the vibration it sends through the PVC piping) landing smack down on the turn in the pipe, after flying down from the second story, and sending a loud echo reverberating back up the pipe.

    So yes - I think you can relax. You could call a plumber to see if they can do anything about it (if it really annoys you) but I imagine the only way to get rid of it would be to have the plumber open up the wall and introduce another turn in your pipe somewhere, so that the final drips of a toilet flushing don't have a 10 - 20 feet straight vertical drop allowing them to gain some noise-generating momentum by the time they land on the inside corner of that piece of pipe in the basement.

    As for me, I just try to keep the stereo on in my living area and it drowns out that pesky dripping sound until it ceases in 5 - 10 minutes. It's annoying, but probably nothing to worry about... or spend too much money "fixing".

    Hope this helps.
    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
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    #5

    Feb 16, 2008, 07:03 AM
    ONE MORE TIME! If there is no moisture that you can see chances are that you are experiencing contracting and expansion. Knocking, popping, creaking and crackling pipes are a common complaint, especially in colder weather. I can tell you what's happening and take the mystery out of it but you're not going to like the repair. When a draw is made on a hot water line the line expands against a pipe strap next to a stud and when you drain hot water from your tub or shower it goes into a chase that is a little cooler then room temperature. The heat expands the pipe causing it to rub against the stud to which it is pipe strapped. This is the sound you hear. As it cools it contracts and the noise is heard again. To repair it you must tear open the walls and locate the pipe strap that's causing the problem and shim it tight. Most people when they learn what causes it just elect to live with it. Regards, Tom
    lostinlakeview's Avatar
    lostinlakeview Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Feb 16, 2008, 06:52 PM
    I understand what you're referring to Speedball, but this is an issue with water that is draining.

    I hear the noise after I flush my upstairs toilet (COLD water) and after I run the kitchen sink (often only using COLD water). IE. It is not due to expansion and contraction of the hot water pipes. I know about the creaking you are referring to - I sometimes hear that in a different wall after a hot shower upstairs - but this is a separate issue.

    Don't get too high and mighty - it's my house, so I think I have a better understanding of what's occurring here :-)

    It is not creaking, it is a constant dripping sound that goes away after 3-10 minutes. As I said, I can put my hand on the 90 degree pipe in my basement and actually feel the vibration from the drip of water landing on that turn and making the noise.

    The other test is if I plug the kitchen sink and fill the sink with water. I wait 10 minutes and I don't hear a sound - but as soon as I remove the plug and drain the water... a minute or two later... out comes the DRIP, DRIP sound again (for 3 - 10 minutes). That's how I know it's to do with my drain and not my supply lines.

    Anyone that contemplates tearing open a wall in an effort to alleviate a little creaking or dripping noise (with no signs of moisture) should consider consulting with a financial adviser. There are much better ways to spend your money :-)

    Get used to it and save the money for retirement.
    DawnDawn's Avatar
    DawnDawn Posts: 29, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Jun 16, 2008, 02:24 PM
    I am hearing a dripping noise too and was wondering if maybe I screwed into a pipe by accident when I secured an over the tank shelf. The screws were only 1/2". Anyone think this could be possible with their dripping noise?
    massplumber2008's Avatar
    massplumber2008 Posts: 12,780, Reputation: 1210
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    #8

    Jun 16, 2008, 03:33 PM
    Hi DD:

    If the screws were only 1/2" long then it seems impossible for you to have screwed into anything as most normal wall covering is 1/2" plus plaster or joint compound... so very unlikely dripping is a result of placing these screws.

    Any plumbing above this point? Any bathrooms/kitchens above this area..

    Get back to me with info...

    MARK
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    ikhan5 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Dec 8, 2010, 04:32 AM
    I'm having a similar problem right now. Reading the info here, I'm quite relaxed with the thought that it probably isn't a leak (if it was a leak it would leak regardless of usage would it not?), but the added problem I have is that the dripping only occurs after the hot water tap is turned off (fasst dripping sound for about 5 secs, then quitens down), and the fact that because I have a false ceiling, I fear that if it was a leak, I wouldn't notice any dampness until it was too late ans the plaster boards would absorb most of it and only let moisture out when they were completely ready to drop into the false ceiling! Any other way to check this?
    SusanAskMe's Avatar
    SusanAskMe Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    Jan 5, 2011, 08:36 AM
    1. Pipe expansion against the wall, stud, bracket.
    2. Dripping safely inside the pipe.
    3. A real leak.

    I too have this "dripping sound" in the wall when water is run upstairs.

    If this is "expansion" it sounds *EXACTLY* the way a drip would "dip faster" and then gradually slow down to a "slow drip"... and finally stop. (Wouldn't #1 be more random sounding?)

    Mine sounds much more like the "drips inside the pipe" type of problem instead.
    Prodoman's Avatar
    Prodoman Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #11

    Feb 4, 2011, 07:44 AM
    I am currently working through the same problem, its cold outside and when the kids use the bathroom upstairs you can hear first a creaking noise from the mainfloor wall and then a drip drip drip.

    When I lost cold water to this same bathroom just a week ago, I said enough I am going to tear down this wall and see what's going on behind the walls.

    One thing that struck me as very odd was it was extremely cold, and there seemed to be a down draft. This would explain why the cold water line would freeze (actually I think it was more just slushy, because 2mins with a blow dryer was enough to free the line).

    But the main 3" pvc drain was ok, no sign of water leakage at all behind the wall.

    To alleviate the pipes freezing, i insulated both the cold and hot line, and i took some copper strapping and just attached it from the hot to the cold line (I figured there would be enough heat transfer from when the hot water was running that if in the future if the cold were to freeze up again..that the connecting strap would free it up). In the next cavity over where the main drain line was coming down i didn't do much, just insulated both wall joist cavities.

    Well confident that i had fixed things, i closed up the wall.

    Holy crap if i don't hear the creaking worse now, and the drip in the wall is still there.

    I am sitting on the fence here as to weather i cut out that new piece of drywall i put in (32"x40") not that big that it is such a big deal to put back in.

    I can't do much for the drip, but as for the creak... what should I do? All I can think of doing is just strap it down better so that the contraction does not put pressure on the drywall backing.

    Does this sound right?

    Any Thoughts.
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    Pwheeler40 Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #12

    Dec 27, 2011, 09:45 PM
    I have a similar problem, and it happens when the dishwasher is running. I can't figure out what it is and have tried to look all over the internet with no luck. I'm in a 3 story townhouse and basically when our dishwasher is running on our second floor, I can hear a clear drip drip drip sound coming from the vent pipe in the wall on our 3rd floor/attic. It's very strange -- I don't know what would be causing this, and I don't know if it's an actual leak in the wall or just echoing as condensation from the pipe drips down 3 floors. AHHH!
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    Tearloch Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Feb 22, 2012, 12:22 PM
    I have been having a similar problem over the past few months. I have 2 upstairs bathrooms, and the "dripping" noise only occurs when I use one of the sinks (usually only 3-5 drips after the water is turned off. Not from either toilet. Not from either shower/tub. Not from the other sink. Based on measurements from the basement (sewer pipe), 1st floor bathroom, and upstairs bathrooms, the main drain coming down from the upstairs has to have a short horizontal run (based on location of wet wall on 1st floor and the wall in the bathroom. Since the issue is only coming from one (of six) potential sources, I did take the time and effort of cut into the wall to check the connection from the sink drain to the main drain. It is all dry. That leads me to believe it is the residual water in the pipe falling and causing the echo noise. Now mine only started (or at least only noticed) in the last few months, so I am making an effort to "clean out" the drain pipes (Liquid Plumber or the like). Make the kids have gotten some stuff lodged in the drain line that is causing some residual water to "lag" behind the rest...
    Anyway, for about $20 and 1 hour of time, I got piece of mind that I don't have water leaking in a wall or between floors.
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    jawaidiqbal Posts: 1, Reputation: -1
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    #14

    Apr 4, 2012, 02:16 PM
    Dear Lucilee the problem u are facing is the air leaking through yours concealed water pipes which are hidden from your eyes but actually the plaster has come off but not fell down it is still sticking the surface of the wall but actually inside is a hollow space and a rusted pipe has a minor leakage hole which intakes air when any of the tap connected to the pipe is turned on.check all the parts of wall by knocking it with a piece of wood under which the water pipe runs or try to find a crack in the wall and leakage the mystery will be solved.
    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
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    #15

    Apr 5, 2012, 08:03 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by jawaidiqbal View Post
    Dear Lucilee the problem u are facing is the air leaking through yours concealed water pipes which are hidden from your eyes but actually the plaster has come off but not fell down it is still sticking the surface of the wall but actually inside is a hollow space and a rusted pipe has a minor leakage hole which intakes air when any of the tap connected to the pipe is turned on.check all the parts of wall by knocking it with a piece of wood under which the water pipe runs or try to find a crack in the wall and leakage the mystery will be solved.
    I disagree. First you have air leaking from inside the wall. Next you use your X-ray vision to look inside the wall to spot a hole in a rusted pipe. So where's all this water leaking out?
    heck all the parts of wall by knocking it with a piece of wood under which the water pipe runs
    Yeah! Let's whack away at the wall with "a piece of wood" That's gonnja fix it. Both drainage and pressure pipes are subject to expansion and contraction. I hold to my original explanation. Cheers. Tom
    Grafica's Avatar
    Grafica Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #16

    Apr 10, 2012, 10:53 AM
    How long have you been there? Has it been happening ever since you've been there? I'm on the third floor of a three story condo building, and have the same problem. My neighbor on the first floor says she hears a loud dripping noise when I use my bathroom sink, but there is never any sign of water. I've been here 16 years, and she has been here around 10 years. She said she heard it a long time ago, but it was very faint. Now it's very loud.
    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
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    #17

    Apr 10, 2012, 01:05 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Grafica View Post
    How long have you been there? Has it been happening ever since you've been there? I'm on the third floor of a three story condo building, and have the same problem. My neighbor on the first floor says she hears a loud dripping noise when I use my bathroom sink, but there is never any sign of water. I've been here 16 years, and she has been here around 10 years. She said she heard it a long time ago, but it was very faint. Now it's very loud.
    Hi Grafica and Welcome to The Plumbing Page. At AskMeHelpDesk.com. You're responding to a 5 year old dead thread Look in then upper left hand corner of the first post form the date in the first post before you post, Thanks,
    I answered this but I'll post it again,

    If there is no moisture that you can see chances are that you are experiencing contracting and expansion. Knocking, popping, creaking and crackling pipes are a common complaint, especially in colder weather. I can tell you what's happening and take the mystery out of it but you're not going to like the repair. When a draw is made on a hot water line the line expands against a pipe strap next to a stud and when you drain hot water from your tub or shower it goes into a chase that is a little cooler then room temperature. The heat expands the pipe causing it to rub against the stud to which it is pipe strapped. This is the sound you hear. As it cools it contracts and the noise is heard again. To repair it you must tear open the walls and locate the pipe strap that's causing the problem and shim it tight. Most people when they learn what causes it just elect to live with it. Regards, Tom
    Grafica's Avatar
    Grafica Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #18

    Apr 11, 2012, 08:32 AM
    Hi speedball1: I actually meant to reply to lostinlakeview, but thanks for the post. My neighbor on the first floor said that she does not hear the noise when my neighbor on the second floor uses her sink, which is right above her, only when I use mine, two floors above her. My neighbor on the first floor said there could be dripping inside the pipe from some obstruction, but that didn't make sense to me, especially how anyone would be able to hear something like that through the pipe, and then through the walls. However, after what lostinlakeview wrote, I'm starting to wonder.
    speedball1's Avatar
    speedball1 Posts: 29,301, Reputation: 1939
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    #19

    Apr 11, 2012, 09:04 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Grafica View Post
    Hi speedball1: I actually meant to reply to lostinlakeview, but thanks for the post. My neighbor on the first floor said that she does not hear the noise when my neighbor on the second floor uses her sink, which is right above her, only when I use mine, two floors above her. My neighbor on the first floor said there could be dripping inside the pipe from some obstruction, but that didn't make sense to me, especially how anyone would be able to hear something like that through the pipe, and then through the walls. However, after what lostinlakeview wrote, I'm starting to wonder.
    Depending on your drainage lay out what you could be hearing is the last bit of drainage left in a elbo and dropping down a few stories and bouncing off another elbo below.. drainage can pick up a lot of speed dropping down from a upper story. That would explain the "drip" that you hear. What do you think? Tom
    Grafica's Avatar
    Grafica Posts: 4, Reputation: 1
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    #20

    Apr 12, 2012, 02:38 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by speedball1 View Post
    Depending on your drainage lay out what you could be hearing is the last bit of drainage left in a elbo and dropping down a few stories and bouncing off another elbo below.. drainage can pick up a lot of speed dropping down from a upper story. That would explain the "drip" that you hear. What do you think? Tom
    Yes, I believe that may well be the problem. My neighbor on the first floor said that it has gotten increasingly louder, which is puzzling. Maybe there is something caught in the pipe. I would attempt to clear the pipes with a plunger, but I assume that would only help if the obstruction is not a long way from my sink drain. My understanding is that drain cleaners eat away the pipes. I'll plunge it and see what happens. Thanks for your help.

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