Have you ever heard a loud banging or thumping noise coming from your pipes after turning off a faucet or appliance? If so, you may be experiencing a common plumbing issue known as water hammer. Water hammer occurs when there is a sudden change in the direction or velocity of water flow within your pipes, causing a shock wave that reverberates through the plumbing system.
Understanding the causes and fixing water hammer is crucial to prevent costly damage to your pipes and fittings. In this post, we’ll discuss the common water hammer causes, including high water pressure, loose pipes, waterlogged air chambers, quick-closing valves, and water meters. We’ll also explore the signs of water hammer and provide practical solutions for fixing it, such as installing a water hammer arrestor, pressure reducing valve, securing loose pipes, and draining waterlogged air chambers.
Don’t let water hammer knock you around! Keep reading to learn how to fix this common plumbing issue and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Common Water Hammer Causes
Water hammer is a common issue that occurs in plumbing systems when a sudden change in water pressure creates a loud banging noise. This noise is caused by the water slamming against the pipes, and it can cause damage to the plumbing system over time. Several factors can cause water hammer, and understanding these causes can help prevent this issue from occurring.
1. Quick-Closing Valves
Quick-closing valves are one of the most common water hammer causes. These valves are designed to shut off quickly, which causes a sudden change in water pressure that creates the banging noise. This problem is often seen in washing machine valves, dishwasher valves, and toilet fill valves.
2. High Water Pressure
High water pressure is another common cause of water hammer. If the water pressure in the plumbing system is too high, it can cause the water to move too quickly through the pipes, creating the banging noise. This problem can be resolved by installing a pressure reducing valve.
3. Loose Pipes
Loose pipes can also cause water hammer. When the pipes are not securely fastened, they can vibrate when water flows through them, creating the banging noise. This problem can be resolved by securing the pipes with brackets or hangers.
4. Air Chambers
Air chambers are devices that are installed in plumbing systems to prevent water hammer. They work by creating a cushion of air that absorbs the shock of the water when a valve is closed. If the air chamber becomes filled with water, it will no longer be effective in preventing water hammer.
5. Waterlogged Pressure Tank
A waterlogged pressure tank can also cause water hammer. Pressure tanks are used in well water systems to maintain consistent water pressure. If the pressure tank becomes waterlogged, it will not function properly, and water hammer may occur.
6. Clogged Pipes
Clogged pipes can also cause water hammer. When pipes become clogged with debris or mineral buildup, the water flow can become disrupted, creating the banging noise. This problem can be resolved by flushing out the pipes or removing the blockage.
7. Improperly Sized Pipes
Improperly sized pipes can also cause water hammer. If the pipes are too small, the water will flow too quickly, creating the banging noise. This problem can be resolved by installing larger pipes that can handle the water flow.
Signs of Water Hammer
Water hammer is a common problem that many homeowners and business owners face. It can be a frustrating issue that not only causes a loud banging noise, but can also lead to damage to the plumbing system if left untreated. The signs of water hammer are easy to identify, and understanding the causes of this problem is crucial to preventing it from occurring in the first place. Here are some common signs of water hammer:
1. Banging or Hammering Noise
The most obvious sign of water hammer is a loud banging or hammering noise when the water is turned on or off. This noise is caused by the water slamming against the pipes and can be quite loud and disruptive.
Water hammer can also cause vibrations in the plumbing system. These vibrations can be felt throughout the building and can be quite strong, depending on the severity of the water hammer.
3. Leaking Pipes
Water hammer can cause pipes to leak or even burst if left untreated. If you notice water leaking from your pipes or walls, it is important to have them inspected by a plumber immediately.
4. Reduced Water Pressure
Water hammer can also cause a reduction in water pressure. If you notice that your water pressure is lower than usual, it may be a sign of water hammer.
5. Damaged Appliances
Water hammer can cause damage to appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers. If you notice that your appliances are making a loud banging noise, it may be a sign of water hammer.
How to Fix Water Hammer
If you’re a homeowner who’s ever been jolted awake by the sudden, loud banging noise of water hammer, you know just how annoying and disruptive it can be. Not only is it unsettling, but it can also be damaging to your plumbing system over time. Fortunately, fixing water hammer is a relatively simple process that can save you from further frustration and potentially costly repairs down the line. Here’s how to silence those pesky pipes once and for all.
1. Install a water hammer arrestor
One of the most effective ways to fix water hammer is to install a water hammer arrestor. A water hammer arrestor is a device that contains a piston or air bladder that absorbs the shock wave of water flow within your pipes. This device can be installed near the source of the water hammer, such as a washing machine or dishwasher, to prevent the shock wave from traveling through your plumbing system.
2. Install a pressure reducing valve
If high water pressure is causing your water hammer, you can install a pressure reducing valve to regulate your water pressure. This device will reduce the pressure of the water entering your home, preventing sudden changes in water flow that can cause water hammer.
3. Secure loose pipes
If loose pipes are causing your water hammer, you can secure them with pipe straps or hangers. This will prevent the pipes from vibrating and banging against each other, reducing the shockwave of water flow that causes water hammer.
3. Drain waterlogged air chambers
If waterlogged air chambers are causing your water hammer, you can drain them by turning off the water supply and opening the faucets. This will allow the air to enter the chambers and restore their ability to cushion the shockwave of water flow.
4. Replace quick-closing valves
If quick-closing valves are causing your water hammer, you can replace them with slow-closing valves. Slow-closing valves shut off more slowly, preventing sudden changes in water flow that can cause water hammer.
5. Contact a professional plumber
If you’re not comfortable fixing water hammer yourself, or if these solutions don’t work, you should contact a professional plumber. A plumber can diagnose the issue and provide more advanced solutions, such as replacing damaged pipes or fittings, or installing a larger water hammer arrestor.
Water hammer is a common plumbing issue that can cause loud noises, vibrations, and damage to your pipes and fittings. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to fix water hammer, including installing a water hammer arrestor, pressure reducing valve, securing loose pipes, draining waterlogged air chambers, replacing quick-closing valves, and contacting a professional plumber. By understanding the common water hammer causes and signs of water hammer and taking action to fix the issue promptly, you can prevent further damage to your plumbing system and ensure the smooth and efficient flow of water throughout your home.