Does your shower make a squealing, screaming, whistling, or shrieking noise when you turn it on? These sounds can be more than just a noisy disruption to your peaceful shower routine. They can also indicate that there is something wrong with your plumbing. Since plumbing problems tend to get worse over time, it’s important to address the squealing noise before it turns into a plumbing disaster. To fix the problem, you’ll first need to discover where the noise is coming from. Explore this guide to learn about common causes of a squealing shower and how to identify and repair them.
Your Showerhead Is Clogged
The showerhead is one of the most common culprits of whistling or screeching noises in the shower. To give you a pleasant spray of water, showerheads need to have a lot of tiny holes that water passes through. Unfortunately, all these small holes can easily develop a clog. The hard-water buildup causes small bits of limestone and other minerals to collect around the edge of each showerhead hole. As the holes get smaller, water gets pushed through them with excessive pressure. This tends to create a squealing noise as the water tries to escape through the too-small holes.
Figuring out if this is a problem is often very easy. You can usually identify the issue just by taking a close look at your showerhead. If you notice that water isn’t coming through some of the nozzles or see white, gray, or yellow buildup around the holes, you probably have a clogged showerhead. If this is the source of your squealing shower, you have a few options. Small amounts of buildup on the exterior of the showerhead can be cleaned off with a stiff brush and a little white vinegar. However, if the buildup is on the interior of the showerhead, you might be better off getting your entire showerhead replaced.
Your Showerhead Valve Is Worn Out
In every shower, there is a lot of plumbing happening behind the scenes. Sometimes, the source of the noise isn’t a fixture you can see. Behind the wall of your shower, there is a valve that controls hot and cold water. This shower valve moves as you adjust the handle to get the perfect temperature. However, over time, this valve starts to wear out. It has moving parts that can gradually break down, and chemicals in hard or acidic water can slowly damage the metal parts of the valve. When your valve is damaged, it can impact water flow and cause a squealing noise even if you aren’t adjusting the temperature.
In addition to a screeching or whistling sound, a faulty shower valve can also cause leaks around the controls of your shower. You might notice a loss of water pressure as you adjust water, and water might take a long time to reach your desired temperature. If your valve is especially damaged, you might also notice leaks behind walls, moldy or rusty smells, and clanking sounds behind your wall.
There Is a Blockage in Your Shower Cartridge
Another potential culprit to be aware of is the shower cartridge. This is a small component that is inside your shower valve. Even if the shower cartridge isn’t worn out or damaged, it can end up causing a squealing noise. This sound indicates that there is a blockage somewhere inside the shower cartridge. Like many other components in your shower, the blockage is probably due to mineral buildup. However, there is a chance it can be caused by other bits of stray debris as well.
To see if the shower cartridge is at fault, spend a little time adjusting the handles of the shower. A clogged cartridge tends to make it hard to turn the shower handle. You might notice that the handle feels like it gets stuck or slips. Water might refuse to flow when you move the handle, or it might drip when you turn the handle to the off position. Clearing a shower cartridge blockage can be tricky, and some blockages are so bad that you’re better off replacing the cartridge instead. Since it’s located inside your shower valve, this is a job that is best left to the professionals.
You Have Clogged Pipes
A whistling, squealing noise can occur whenever your pipes have some sort of clog. As the opening of the pipe narrows, the water pressure rises within the pipes, and the high-pressure water pushes through the tiny gaps with a screeching sound. Any time your shower is in otherwise good condition but is still making a noise, your water supply pipes are probably the culprit. This most commonly happens in homes with older pipes. Either hard water buildup or corrosion inside of the pipes can narrow them over time.
Usually, you can only confirm your pipes are the problem if you’ve checked all other shower mechanisms and they’re working fine. However, you should also check for discolored or strange-smelling water which can be a sign that there is an issue inside your pipes. Clogged pipes can also cause you to experience low water pressure. Though the pressure inside the pipes rises, you’re getting less water delivered overall, so it might trickle out of your showerhead more slowly. If you have clogged pipes, you don’t have many repair options. Some types of buildup can be cleaned, but often, you’ll need to replace the pipes altogether.
Your Diverter Valve Is Damaged
Not all types of showers will have a diverter valve, but if you have a shower and tub combination, this could be the source of the squealing. The diverter valve is a valve that directs water to the showerhead instead of the tub faucet. Diverter valves can be somewhat complex and are available in several different types. Though a quality diverter valve will work well for years, they do eventually face wear and tear. When things like the rubber washers inside of the valve start to give out, you might end up hearing strange noises during your shower.
A broken diverter valve can also cause water to drip from the tub faucet while you shower. Other signs besides noise include difficulty switching from tub to shower water or a showerhead with decreased pressure. Often, if the diverter valve is behind the noise, your shower will stop squealing when you switch to running the tub faucet. If this is the culprit, it’s probably time to replace the valve. Just keep in mind that you’ll usually need professional help to access and replace this valve since it’s situated inside your plumbing.
How We Can Help
Whatever the cause of a squealing shower, Hope Plumbing can help. Our highly trained plumbers can assess your plumbing, recommend repairs, and fix a variety of plumbing problems. In addition to plumbing repairs, we also offer a variety of other plumbing services throughout Indianapolis. We can assist you with everything from gas line connections to sewer replacement. Plus, our team specializes in older homes. To schedule your appointment, call Hope Plumbing today.