Shower Faucet Vibration
January 23, 2018
For the last few years, the shower in the hall bathroom upstairs has made this terrible vibrating rattle sound when you turn on the hot water. It was totally manageable as you just had to turn the hot water on a little more and it would go away. Recently this vibration has increased in intensity dramatically. Every time I experienced it I could just imagine the copper pipes in the walls shaking back in forth banging into everything. That's when I started to get scared that a soldered pipe joint would crack under all this vibration and start shooting water inside the walls somewhere. What a nightmare that would be.
So I cut an access hole behind that faucet to see what was going on. Luckily the back side of the shower is in the closet of the adjacent spare bedroom. There was already a big piece of 1/4 inch painted plywood nailed to the wall in that spot, so I assumed there was already plumbing access, but when I took the wood down, there was drywall behind it, strange. I cut a hole and inspected for loose pipes, but everything was solid, no movement at all. This morning while Rachelle was in the shower I crept into the room and stayed there looking at the plumbing until she turned off the shower and I could see what was going on during the vibration; the pipes were not moving at all, it was all in the faucet. After some youtubing today I found a bunch of videos showing the same exact noise/vibration from various fixtures, and almost all of them were fixed by simply replacing the rubber washer at the end of the faucet stem. In most cases the washer was either missing, or loose and flapping around.
Sure enough, the washer was totally worn out. Replaced and the vibration is gone!