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Question DetailsAsked on 7/1/2017

We have a sound that is we think coming from the walls that sounds like a jack hammer drilling. What could it be?

This is a wall between the kitchen and the bathroom. Their is a sink on both walls. But sounds like it comes from a corner. On the outside in the back yard of this wall is the a/c unit? Its sounds like a jack hammer . It seems to be getting louder!

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1 Answer


Check A/C and furnace/boiler, water heater if high-efficiency with a heat pump on it, and any whole-house fan to be sure you are not hearing a clunking compressor or failing fan or pump. If so, shut down till Heating and A/C or Plumbing contractor (as applicable) fixes it. If truly jack hammer loud (and assuming no construction work in area) my first guess would be a thumping air conditioner compressor, because it is low on refrigerant (whcih carries the lubricating oil with it) - if so, shut off the breaker immediately though it may be too late to save it.

Otherwise, if this happens only after running water (usually hot) could be drain or water pipe expansion and contraction - commonly sounds like a thump or creak between the sounds and commonly starts off at short interval then tapers off to longer and longer interval over a half minute to a couple of minutes. Caused by pipes sticking and creaking because of tight fit in holes through joists or such. Normally as loud as a tap to maybe a small hammer hit - I have never heard it as loud as a jackhammer.

If occurs exactly when water is being turned on or off (usually the latter), especially with full-flow, then probably water hammer - the momentum of the water starting and stopping in the pipes causes loose pipes to bang in the walls or underfloor space. Solution is putting restraints on the pipes, and many times putting in surge arrestor(s) on the water pipes. Can also be because you have surge arrestors but the air in them has dissipated so they need to be refilled with air by draining out the lines to fill them with air, which then stays in the upright arrestors when the water is turned back on.

Solution is to track down where the sound is coming from and what action it is related to, a stethoscope commonly helps a lot with that. Then opening up the wall/ceiling as needed to access the guilty party, as applicable.

Plumbing would be the Search the List category unless the noise is from the A/C or a boiler or furnace, in which case normally Heating and A/C but sometimes Plumber for boilers and water heaters.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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