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Pipes Gurgle

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  • Pipes Gurgle

    I have a swishing and gurgling sound in the plumbing riser column between the 3rd and 4th floors of my townhouse. Each floor has one full bath that drains into the one vertical drain. In the riser column is my drain, hot and cold risers as well as a fire sprinkler riser. The sound is regular but random, with no sound below the 3rd floor. No drains are plugged nor are any backing up or slow anywhere in the house. No new plumbing has been done in the house in 8 years. I have snaked out 25 feet of drain for each bathroom but it still continues. I have also tried various liquid cleaners, excl. hydrochloric acid! It is possible I have a plugged vent, but again no drains are slow and the vents are not plugged at roof level (I checked and snaked out 25 feet down the vent stacks).

    However, about 2-3 weeks before this began in early December, my fire sprinkler system was drained and refilled because a flow detector need to be installed for insurance purposes. Could this riser have air in it and what I hear is the water randomly rushing around the air pocket(s)? If so, will draining and refilling the system slowly solve the problem? There is no evidence of any leaks in the fire sprinkler system either.

    Thanks

  • #2
    JGM, what you have described sounds like it could be air in the pipes.

    could it be a circulating pump or return line making the noise?


    since you have a good sence for the prior work done to eliminate other possibilites, i think your correct in the fire sprinkler issue.

    is this sprinkler system part of a domestic potable water system?

    usually a head at a top floor can be removed to allow the air to purge.

    get some other opinions prior to doing any real work. there should be a few others posting tonight that will shed some thought.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #3
      A sprinkler system should be static, any air in the system will find its way to the high spots then stay there.

      Do you have access to your pipe chase to where you can open it and examine the piping systems? Also do you have steam or hot water heat?
      When you say that you ran 25 feet of cable into your line, how big of diameter was the cable and where did you access the line from?

      How old is your town home and is most of the plumbing original? Have you noticed any stale or dank odors? Is anyone using any of the fixtures when you hear this noise?

      Your problem sounds a bit unusual so i am only asking these questions in order to get a better idea of what you have and what may be happening.

      Check the water in the tanks of your toilets, its possible the flapper or actuator in one of your tanks is letting water slowly leak through. Simply put a few drops of dark food coloring into them and then look into the bowls about 5 minutes later (don't let anyone use the fixtures during this test). If the colored water from the tank has entered the bowl then your problem will be easy and cheap to fix. The swish may be the periodic refilling of the toilet tank (not really hearing the "swish" its hard to say). The gurgle could also be related to the water leaving the bowl under certain conditions. this is just a possibility that is fast easy and cheap to either eliminate a possible source of your noise or to pin point it.

      Without hearing these noises first hand and the the conditions in which they occur its very hard to determine their origin.
      Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

      Comment


      • #4
        the fire sprinkler system should have bin purge out after they were done with it . you said they put in a flow detector , the system has a small water pump on it to keep pressure in the system so the pressure switch does not set off the alarm . so you should have the sprinkler company check for air . when do you hear the noise . is it when you use water or drain water?
        Charlie

        My seek the peek fundraiser page
        http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


        http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

        new work pictures 12/09
        http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you all for your suggestions. I will try the food coloring idea before I mess with anything else.

          For those of you that asked some questions -

          The sprinkler system does not have a pump, is not part of the home's potable water supply, does not have a return, nor is there a head to purge air at the top of the line. It is a separate sprinkler tap run from the street into the house and is pressurized by simply the cold water itself.

          The sound is rather random and independent of whether or not water has been recently used. For example, I often hear it at 7am in the morning after no water or devices have been used for 8 hours.

          I know this might also indicate a clogged vent or partially clogged drain. I have noticed the water in the toilets "moving" a bit, some tiny air bubbles inside the toilet bowl, and an air "burp" when flushed. But never have I experienced any slow drains or back-ups. The snake I have used was small in diameter and is only for dislodging large blockages.

          Any other suggestions?

          Comment


          • #6
            what type of heatng system do you have...hot water baseboard, radiators, some other system using hot water; heating coil in ductwork maybe?

            Could be air in the system and when the heat comes on you hear it moving.
            ---------------
            Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
            ---------------
            “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
            ---------
            "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
            ---------
            sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              My heating system is forced air. Thanks fro the suggestion anyway.

              Comment


              • #8
                has this bin going on for for some time or just started ? the moving water in the bowl can happen on windy days or if the wind is blowing around the vent with some downward direction . as for the bubbles if the water co was flushing lines or a water main brake this will put air in the line . if this is not it then with out hearing the noise it is hard to figure out . sorry
                Charlie

                My seek the peek fundraiser page
                http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


                http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

                new work pictures 12/09
                http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for all of your advice. I drained my fire sprinker system and the gurgle stopped. When I refilled it, the sound came back. I am sure it is air trapped at the top of the sprinkler water pipes. Unfortuneately, the pipes are in my ceiling and there is not way to flush out the air by running the water out of the top of the system.

                  Other than opening my ceiling and putting a valve in place, is there any other alternative for removing air from the pipes?

                  Thanks again.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    jgm,

                    Glad to read that you have isolated your problem. It surprises me somewhat as a sprinkler system should be static with no movement of water so once the system is filled any air pockets would normally remain in place and not make noise. It goes to show one never quits learning new things.

                    One suggestion would be to remove the furthest sprinkler head at the highest point of your system and install a nipple and and valve. Turn the water back on and using the valve and five gallon bucket you should be able to bleed the system. Installing a garden hose would make it even easier. then simply turn the water back off and re install the head.

                    One note, if you do not have a backflow preventer installed on your system then its possible that fluctuating pressures in your water main could cause the air to move about in the system. A properly selected backflow preventer should have been installed by your sprinkler company if not it would be a good idea to have one installed to protect your potable system from stagnate water from your sprinkler system.
                    Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK
                      JGM, what you have described sounds like it could be air in the pipes.

                      could it be a circulating pump or return line making the noise?


                      since you have a good sence for the prior work done to eliminate other possibilites, i think your correct in the fire sprinkler issue.

                      is this sprinkler system part of a domestic potable water system?

                      usually a head at a top floor can be removed to allow the air to purge.


                      get some other opinions prior to doing any real work. there should be a few others posting tonight that will shed some thought.

                      rick.
                      not a bad guess

                      rick and "ballandchain"
                      Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 02-05-2006, 04:16 PM.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment

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