What to do When the Faucet Makes High-Pitched Whining Noise

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When I moved into my first proper apartment with my friend, the biggest problem we faced was the “screaming” faucet in our bathroom.

We called it screaming because if one of us went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the other one would, without fail, jump out of bed thinking someone was being murdered.

However, this seems to be more than a common problem in today's houses. The faucets can make high-pitched sounds when turned on, and this problem is neither too complex nor too costly to fix. 

You can even do it yourself and save yourself from a long process of moving out as we did. I know, it seems stupid, but the noise was unbearable and the building was quite old so we thought we might as well move out.

But guess what, this also can happen in newer buildings – usually for a different reason on which we will elaborate later.

Anyway, let’s see what the most common causes of “whining” faucets are and some possible solutions.

We should preface this by saying that if you decide to try to fix anything plumber-related in your house yourself, always turn off the water supply first, and then proceed.

faucet making noise

Why does the faucet make whining noises?

The first you’ll need to do is to determine whether the noise is coming from the pipes below the sink or the faucet.

If it’s coming from the pipes, we advise calling the plumber.

If it’s coming from the faucet, the problem should not be too serious and you should be able to fix it yourself provided you have the right tools.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and firstly establish the main parts of a faucet:

  • A handle for turning the water on/off
  • A stem that is bound into the body of the faucet
  • A nut that locks the stem in place
  • A rubber or metal washer at the bottom of the stem
  • A faucet nozzle

If all the parts are fine then the problem could also be the pressure of water.

High water pressure

The frequent culprit that makes your faucet whine is high water pressure. 

Faucets are designed to work only within an established range of water pressure. Customarily in most houses, it is at 60 psi (pounds per square inch).

If the water pressure is higher than this number, your faucet will produce high-pitched sounds. To solve this, you will need to lower or moderate your water pressure.

In addition to this, if your pipes are used to high water pressure and just out of nowhere your faucet started making noise, there may be something stuck inside.

The water passing over any kind of debris that’s stuck inside the pipe will also cause the noise.

Let’s see what faucet parts can be the cause of your noisy faucet.

faucet makes whining noise

Loose or Damaged Washers

Usually, the most common cause of the high-pitched noise is faulty washers. Washers are used to secure the screws or nuts. If they are made of rubber, they can become damaged over time.

It is the same thing with the metal ones, they can become loose.

When this happens, the water rushing through will cause the washer to vibrate or flap. These vibrations (or flapping of rubber) are very fast and they turn into a screeching, annoying noise we face on the surface.

Generally, if the washer is faulty, its replacement will stop the shrilling noise.

The washer inside the faucet nozzle can also require replacement if it's worn-out.

Damaged Stems

If you opened your faucet to find that the washers are as good as new, then it means that the stem is worn-out and flawed.

The stem is found inside the faucet handle. It contains the valve which turns the water on and off.

The totaled stem will cause other parts, including washers, to come loose. Loosened parts will scrape against the metal inside the handle which will then result in ear-piercing noise.

This calls for a replacement of the whole stem.

Hot water

Yes, the faucet parts are fine and dandy, the water pressure is perfect, but the noise still welcomes you first thing in the morning when you’re just trying to brush your teeth.

Is it possible that your need to rinse the toothpaste with hot water produces the unbearable sound? But when you use cold water, everything is fine?

It is possible, and I’ll tell you why.

Hot water causes the pipes to expand – the stretch against their brackets vibrate fast and produce the noise. You can try to cushion the pipes to reduce the vibration or maybe will need to replace the pipes and the brackets.

Maybe the stem or washer on only the hot water side is damaged. So, the replacement of these parts will solve the issue.

Usually, the newer houses have this problem, the pipes are new but they are too constrictive.


Hard Water

Living in an area with hard water can cause many issues among which are noisy faucets.

Hard water leaves residue in your pipes, taps, and faucets over time. This mineral build-up can reduce the pipe space through which the water passes.

To solve this you can take off your faucet and soak it in a large bowl, a bucket or something similar, in half water, half white distilled vinegar solution.

Conclusion: Faucet Makes High-Pitched Noise

Hair-raising noise coming from the faucet may make you think there is no solution. The plumber may be too busy and you may be losing your mind.

The first step to solving a problem is to find out what causes it. Loose parts, high water pressure or infrequent faucet cleaning are the most common elements of noisy faucets.

A skillful plumber will routinely solve all these issues in under an hour. You can even give it a go yourself; just make sure to have all the necessary tools and to have your water supply shut off before you start.

The best way to avoid these kinds of issues is to have your pipes inspected from time to time. It’s better to be safe than sorry – especially when the screeching faucet causes you to dream about running away from serial killers.