Our shower has a problem...It's very loud! When water hits the correct temperature and flow the shower immediately starts shrieking like a banshee.

It seems to be related to the flow because we can turn down the flow rate but keep the same temperature. This causes the shrieking to stop but it also gives us a wimpy little shower. If we turn on the shower but make it fast and cold then there is no shrieking either.

Another piece of data is that the shower has two separate physical heads on opposite sides of the shower and 1. only one of the heads makes this sound, and 2. the shrieking doesn't depend on whether both heads are running or only one head is running. The heads seem to be fed by separate pipes.

Has anyone had a problem with an old shower making noise like this? We're not sure whether the problem is the pipes or the shower head.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated...

  • I feel your pain. Same thing here. Nov 22, 2010 at 21:16

3 Answers 3


Part of the cause of this may be turbulent vs. laminar flow. A high temperature will have a lower viscosity, leading to a higher Reynolds number, which contributes to turbulent flow. Add in surface defects from mineral build up, and you've got enough turbulence to vibrate your pipes to 'banshee levels.'

  • 4
    Short answer: "The screaming one is probably limed up." (hehe).
    – Tester101
    Nov 23, 2010 at 13:26
  • @Tester101: Ok, ok, yes there was a shorter way to answer that. I was postulating that they could both have buildup, but you only hear it from the hot one because of the above explanation.
    – Doresoom
    Nov 23, 2010 at 14:29
  • 1
    Darn engineers always over complicating things! (haha).
    – Tester101
    Nov 23, 2010 at 14:44
  • 1
    Guilty as charged. :)
    – Doresoom
    Nov 24, 2010 at 14:27

The screaming one is probably limed up. You might try cleaning it with vinegar or lime away.

  • What about the issue of introducing a contaminant into the water supply to the house (and to the city). Quick internet search suggests that it is a bad idea to clean limed up pipes with chemicals. Any thoughts? Are we going to have to call the plumber for this one? Nov 29, 2010 at 4:25
  • 2
    I don't think that's a concern at all since the water flowing towards your house is under pressure. Regardless, if you are worried, you should be able to unscrew the shower head and soak it in a bowl of vinegar or lime-a-way.
    – Zach
    Apr 21, 2015 at 13:00
  • I've found citric acid solutions to be much quicker than vinegar for stuff like this. You can make it much stronger than vinegar's 5%, without harming any metal. Apr 19, 2018 at 19:10

If it's not mineral deposits on the pipe walls, tiny bubbles from pinhole leaks, or siphon-effect upon shut-off, can cause a screaming noise. One tiny group of bubbles at the top of a shower head can create more turbulence than anything coating the wall of a pipe

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