Jan. 15th, 2011

swestrup: (Default)
I'm in the middle of another period where my sleep schedule is all screwed up, so I've been working on some of my software through the night. A few minutes ago it gradually registered that I'd been hearing a rhythmic bumping noise for some time.

It wasn't a steady bump-bump-bump, but was more of an rapid series of beats that would grow faster and louder until they stopped, only to start again a second later. Sort of a "bump ... bump ... bump bump ... Bump Bump Bump BUMP BUMPBUMP*BUMP*!!BUMP!! .......

At first I dismissed it as the sound of a neighbors unbalanced dryer, but ... at this time of night? Then I thought it could possibly be a snowplow, but it didn't really sound like one. I wandered the house and it seemed louder in some rooms, quieter in others, with no discernible pattern other than it got louder the farther down I went.

I eventually ended up in the basement only to see that one of our copper water pipes was vibrating frantically. The vibrations would build up until the pipe would move the 3 inches needed to hit the wall, at which point it would stop for a second and then start over. It looked like it was planning to tear itself out from the wall if I didn't do something.

I stuffed a handy jug between the wall and the pipe, to damp the vibrations, and stood wondering what could be causing this wild behaviour. The only thing I could think of was some sort of broken pipe gushing water somewhere, but I would probably have noticed such a thing (if it was in our house) while looking for the source of the noise.

Then I noticed that the sewage stack I was standing beside had a continuous sound of rushing water, but I knew there were no taps on in the house, and that water had to be coming from somewhere in our condo. I traced the faint sound of running water all the way back up the stairs to the second floor, and to the bathroom.

There I noticed that the toilet tank was giving off a continuous "sssstick ssstick ssstick" noise. It dawned on me that the toilet valve hadn't seated itself properly the last time the toilet was flushed, and the water was continually draining from the tank and needing to be refilled. The noise was the on/off of the new toilet fill valve. It was cycling on and off at just the right frequency to set up a major oscillation in the pipes in the basement.

So, jiggling the handle solved the problem, but it does have me worried, as it could easily happen again and I don't know how much punishment our basement pipes could take. Since it was the cold inlet pipe into the water heater that was vibrating, much mess could occur if it were to fail. I'm going to have to looking into permanently putting a block of wood or something on that pipe, so it can't vibrate freely any more.

And now I think I need to go lay down a bit and calm my nerves.

January 2017


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