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Dripping Sound without visible water


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Just got this e-mail from a client.

I'll be visiting him tomorrow but wanted to see if y'all had any ideas.


I have an issue here. In the 1st floor master bedroom, I hear water dripping over a month ago and now more like gobbling and some flowing in the ceiling or wall, cannot really tell.

I noticed this back in Oct when weather was very cold (about 3x degrees). When the weather got warmer, the dripping sound went away. Now, it seems getting worse with the cold wheather. I can hear the noise pretty clear at night bothering my sleep. So far, I haven't seen any stain or sign of leak on ceiling or wall.

I could not hear teh noise anywhere else, except the 1st floor master bedroom and near the wall in the kitchen in conjunction with the bedroom. Also, I went to the attic and listened to the two pipes (vent?) go out to the top of the roof and heard the dripping sound.


I'll check back later! I'm thinking condensation on or in the vent pipes.


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Might be the "ticking" of hot water pipes creeping in the framing as they expand and contract after use. I know from personal experience that can sound a lot like a regular drip, although it is only during and after using hot water. Otherwise, you are probably right about condensation from the upper cold portion of the sewer vent falling back down the piping. The "gobbling" and "flowing"...no idea...sounds like a sewer issue.

The beauty of cast iron over ABS is that it dampens the noises.

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If it's on the outside of the plumbing vent pipe look around the first joint there should be stains on the insulation. Put your flashlight on the pipe you should be able to see through it and watch for dripping down the pipe in the attic.

But if it's only when its cold where's the furnace flue located?

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I'd bet it's ABS waste pipe expanding and contracting. Whenever my wife is running water in the kitchen the ABS pipes that pass over the ceilings of my office expand and contract and make a sound that's identical to the sound of water dripping on the ceiling.

The black pipe extends above the roof where the sun heats it up for hours every day and it takes on heat from the house. Then the sun goes down and it starts to contract.

Tick, tick, tick, tick......



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Like everyone else, I think the most likely source of the sound is an expanding/contracting pipe.

However, with these kinds of issues, the first question I always ask is, "Does anyone else hear this sound?"

It's amazing how often only one person in the household hears the sound. This happens with smells too.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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