Droning noise in water pipes

23 Sep 2010
Reaction score
United Kingdom

Help! Our plumbing has suddenly started to make droning noises and it's scaring our little boy (oh and annoying both mummy and daddy!!)

My wife used the cold water tap on the downstairs bathroom sink and discovered it creates a load droning noise. The noise/sound is best described as being like a ships horn or the drone when next door are drilling their wall.

We have never experienced this noise before. The plumbing is existing - not modified for at least 18mths. We are not experiencing unusual weather.

I've done a bit of DIY-standard investigation in the hope that someone can help.

1 Seem to get noise when using bath taps and/or downstairs bathroom sink.

2. If we use any other taps (on own) then no noise.

3. Both hot (via combi boiler) and cold water affected - but logically it's the cold that's the cause (as it's also supplying the combi-boiler).

4. The pipes run in a (well-insulated) loft space so easily accessible. When affected taps run pipes feel as though they vibrate. Can run other taps and no vibration.

5. I've checked security as much as possible and even added a few extra pipes clips - no difference.

6. No clanking of pipes, etc.

7. Tried adjusting mains stop tap. No difference.

8. A lot of people on web mention leaking toilets ball valves - isolated both toilets (using 1/4 turn stop valves) - still get noise.

9. Discovered I can stop noise at taps by either reducing flow at tap or slightly closing the 1/4 turn shut-off valves. The noise is then only heard for a brief moment when opening the tap.

BUT while running the bath (with the now restricted bath taps), my wife decided to do some washing. When the washer filled (and bath tap running) we got the same droning noise.

10. Kitchen taps don't cause the noise but running them and one of the affected taps causes the noise (even when the 1/4 turn stop valves are part closed).

I would suggest the noise occurs when there is a lot of water travelling through the pipes. Remember that noise stops when flow restricted at affected tap but noise then started when washer filled.

Also, the bath tap has a shower head attachment. If I run tap then it's noisy. If I run shower head attachment then no noise. So same pipe work, same tap - just the tap allows more flow than the shower head.

Sponsored Links
You may have a problem with your mains cold water stopcock. Firstly see if it is fully open ,if its a conventional brass stopcock ( the head looks like an outside garden taps) turn anti clockwise. See if it makes any difference. If not try turning it to half way open ,again see if any difference. Report back your findings.
Hi - firstly thanks for your reply.

I tried adjusting this earlier but just for our sanity, I've just tried it again.

FYI - it was replaced 18months or so ago.

Takes approx 3.5 full turns to move from fully closed to fully open.

Tap was approx 3 full turns open.

I have tried closing it (in half turns) but same droning noise.

I have fully closed it to make sure it works - it does.

You can hear the water gush through after the first turn.

The only thing I have not tried is fully opening it then running the water. (Short interlude). I have now and same droning noise.

As a (hopefully) short term solution, it seems that we need to limit the flow which can be achieved at the taps but is hard to control when water used at multiple places (due to combined flow).

Thanks in advance
Has it been fitted the correct way up ? The arrow on the body should point in the direction of the flow ,assume its a brass stopcock ?
Sponsored Links
Sounds like you may need a couple of new washers in the affected taps..
Took me a while to find the arrow but yes - arrow points in the direction of the flow.

FYI - not sure if this is relevant or not but pipe work is copper from mains stop tap to ceiling, then plastic across flat roof extension roof, then fully copper (with the exception of flexi-hoses and 1/4 turn valves). Where the plastic meets the copper, there is a 1/4 turn valve (which I suppose essentially isolates the mains/extension from the whole house)
Bit unusual for both bath and basin ,hot and cold ,to all simultaneously show the same symptoms.
Hi DH6.

To my untrained eye, it seems odd that the noise has only started today and suddenly affects two sets of taps (four washers)?

Especially as the bath tap works drone free with the shower head but then drones when the water is directed through the tap.

As I've restricted the flow to these two sets of taps, when ran in isolation they only drone briefly. Not when first opened but when partially open. If I then open the tap fully there is no drone.

Please don't think I'm dismissing your idea. I am happy to try/consider any logical suggests. I just thought it best to confirm a few details first.

Many thanks
From what you have described your problem is typical of the resonation that one finds when a ball valve or float valve starts to fail ,or a loose jumper in a tap / valve or stopcock . as the main stopcock is only 18 months old and 4 taps are affected and WC valves have been ruled out it would point to a second stopcock / valve somewhere on the cold mains possibly .do you have one ?
There are two 1/4 turn isolating/shut off valves (like screwfix item 65251).

If you refer to my earlier post, one is located where the plastic pipe (from mains stop tap) terminates (aka the start of the copper).

If I close this valve, I isolate all water outlets. I guess thistles it like a second stop tap.

There is a second one located midway along the loft space.

I have tried closing the second one as this ten just leaves water to the two affect sets of taps and the two toilets. I have also isolated the toilets. The droning is there when only the two affected sets of taps are supplied and used.

FYI - all pipes to the taps have their own isolation valves.
could it be that one of your cistern filling valves is imperceptibly letting by? modern cisterns usually overflow into the pan so you might not notice it.

I stand (slightly) corrected:

The plastic pipe from the main stop tap enters the loft and there is a valve (the first one I mentioned above). The pipe then tees.

The left branch goes to the upstairs/downstairs showers and upstairs sink - all operate fine.

The right branch passes through a (previously missed) valve before feeding the affected taps, the toilets the onto the second valve that I mentioned above.

The FIRST VALVE and NEWLY DISCOVERED VALVE have arrows that point AGAINST the flow of the water. is this potentially the problem?

Also I noticed a very small trace of water on the pipe below the NEWLY DISCOVERED valve. There is nothing to suggest water has been leaking out previously. I noticed my finger tip was wet after touching the valve and there was a drop of water on the pipe below (which has a bend). Could this potentially loose connection be the cause of the problem?

Rather than upset the family with late night plumbing, I've wiped the connections over and will checked them on the morning (for signs of a leak).
Last edited:

1. The newly discovered isolation valve has a very slight weep/leak (although I suspect this may be a consequence of moving, checking and securing the surrounding pipework).
2. My wife has noticed that the bathroom sink tap has a drip (says once every three seconds). We have not noticed this before so suggests this is a new "drip". Note that this tap does not cause the drone when operated (even at full flow).
3. I have dug out a new isolation valve (my cellar is like a poor man's Aladdin's Cave!!)

NEXT STEP (Do you agree?)
1. Investigate the bathroom sink tap - it could just be the DH6's suggested tap washer. As it is a mixer tap, I do not know if it is the hot or cold tap valve that is leaking. I shall isolate each tap then check for the drone :(
2. Nip up the weeping isolation valve then check for the drone :(
3. Replace the newly discovered isolation valve (so fitted with the K--> putting in the direction of the flow) then check for the drone :(
4. Reverse/replace the first isolation valve (so fitted with the K--> putting in the direction of the flow) then check for the drone :(

All of this will be conducted to the sound of our crying 3-year old :cry: who is upset by the droning noise - makes two of us!! :cry::cry:
Just to check before you go too far, are the Basin taps, (sinks are fitted in kitchens ;)), the washer or disc type? Disc type will be a quarter (90°) turn from fully off to fully on, whereas washer types will take several turns to open fully. Disc taps do no have a washer assemble so whilst possibly a symptom, wont be the cause.

DIYnot Local

Staff member

If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.

Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local

Sponsored Links