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Plumbing and HVAC 101: Sounds You Should Never Ignore

Bang. Crash. Squeal.

Occasionally, your house speaks to you. Through the noises it makes, your house is trying to tell you something is wrong.

Plumbing and HVAC 101: Sounds You Should Never Ignore

You’ve probably picked up on the way your dishwasher works, or the sound your furnace makes as it cycles from beginning to end. But after a while, you’ll start to hear other sounds, noises that aren’t normally there.

Is it a sign of a problem? Should you ignore it? Should you fix it immediately? It all depends on the sound.


Plumbing = water. If you hear any of these noises coming from your plumbing system, it’s time to call in a plumber.

Tapping – You’ll often hear this as temperatures rise and fall. As heat or cold weather settles into your home, your plumbing pipes expand and contract. This can let you know you have a loose fitting, a leak somewhere in the system, or even a problem with the connection to the water meter.

Whistling – Whistling noises are usually caused when there is a restriction in the water flow. It may be a signal that a valve has been closed in the water supply. It can also be an indication that sediment has built up in the system.

Gurgle – Is your drain speaking to you? That gurgling noise is usually a sign of a clog. Water backs up behind it, and when it suddenly gets through, you’ll hear a gurgle in your pipes. In many cases, you can fix simple clogs easily yourself. But if you have trouble clearing a clog, or you hear gurgling from more than one location, it’s time to call in a plumber.

Running water – Running water after your fixtures are turned off is a sign of a leak or a damaged pipe. The longer you leave running water unfixed, the larger the problem becomes.


Like your plumbing system, your furnace and air conditioner will make noises long before they shut down. Here are a few you should pay attention to:

Squeals – A squealing noise often means a belt or bearing has worn out and is about to stop working.

Rattling – A rattling noise is an indication that a part is broken or come loose and is causing havoc in your furnace or air conditioner.

Booming – If you hear a muffled boom as your gas furnace operates, it could be a sign of gas buildup. This can cause system damage if left for too long.

Clicking – Depending on the age of your furnace, it probably operates with an electronic ignition. While it may click to turn on, repeated clicking is a sign there’s something wrong with the ignition process.

When in doubt, call in a plumber or HVAC technician to ensure the safety and security of your plumbing and heating and cooling equipment.

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