Your toilet and bathroom pipes are unlikely to draw your attention unless they’re malfunctioning, so it can be downright spooky when they start making odd sounds for seemingly no reason. Fortunately, strange gurglings and knockings tend to indicate not supernatural visitors, but rather plumbing problems that often have a simple fix.
Here are three spooky sounds you may hear in your bathroom, as well as the common causes of those sounds.
1. Shower Drain Making Gurgling Sounds
An odd gurgling or bubbling sound in the shower drain can spring from a number of sources, but don’t worry; it probably doesn’t have a supernatural origin. This sound can occur when your plumbing vents are blocked, for example. In this case, the sound will likely present itself right after you’re flushed the toilet or washed your hands.
Another possible cause is a compromised drainpipe. Either the shower drain itself or the main sewer line could be clogged, collapsed, or otherwise damaged. Slow draining or a sewer or sulfur smell can also indicate that there’s likely an issue with the sewer line (or septic system, if you have one).
2. Toilet Running When Nobody’s There
If you notice the toilet running when you haven’t flushed it, you don’t need to feel alarmed (except maybe at the thought of all the water your toilet is wasting). The cause is most likely a simple malfunction of the mechanism inside the toilet.
For example, if the flapper inside your toilet tank is blocked or doesn’t have a long enough chain, it won’t be able to close all the way, so the seal that stops water draining out of the tank won’t be formed. Or if the float inside the tank is set too high, the fill valve won’t shut off because it’s trying to fill the tank higher than the overflow line.
If you’re comfortable with removing the lid of your toilet tank and looking inside, you can personally check for a blocked flapper and try moving the float downward a bit. You can also try replacing the flapper, since it can wear out after just a couple of years. However, if that doesn’t work, you could have a more complicated problem that requires a plumber.
3. Pipes Making Knocking Sounds
If you hear an odd knocking sound after turning off your faucet, it’s not a ghost in the pipes; it’s simply a phenomenon called water hammer. This is an effect caused by the water pressure when the flow of water is suddenly being blocked. The flowing water hits the end of the pipe, causing shock waves that travel backwards and create loud sounds and vibrations.
Water hammer isn’t considered an emergency, but if it’s extreme or goes on for too long, it can actually cause damage that requires pipe repair. Your best bet is to have a contractor take a look at the situation; he or she can install water hammer arrestors to absorb the extra pressure so shock waves don’t form when you shut the faucet off.
Another pipe-banging problem is simply caused by loose pipes. If your pipes aren’t fastened correctly, they can knock against the insides of your walls to create the knocking that you hear. A competent plumber can identify the source of the problem and reattach the pipes to the walls with the correct straps.
Whether you suspect your spooky bathroom sounds are coming from a water hammer problem, or you have a shower drain issue that you’re unable to diagnose on your own, you should call a reputable plumber. We’re here to serve all your plumbing needs, so give us a call: (317) 423-7289