Water hammer, by name, is a fairly self-explanatory phenomenon. If you’ve ever heard a loud clunk or thunk sound when you turn off the faucet, you may have “Water hammer.” You might hear it when the washing machine or dishwasher shuts off the water, or even after a shower, but the sound is unmistakable. And while it may seem like just an annoying noise, the truth is it could be the sound of a plumbing problem to come.
Why Does it Make a Hammering Noise?
To ensure flow, the water in your plumbing pipes is under pressure. When you open a faucet, the water can run through freely, but when you shut if off the water flow crashes into the closed valve and this creates what is known as a hydraulic shock. While this is not necessarily a problem, it can contribute to issues if your pipes have not been secured properly. The vibration that results from water hammer can even cause your pipes to physically move, which can lead to even more noise, and if things are secured properly could even cause severe damage to your pipes.
How can I Stop Water Hammer?
Most modern home plumbing systems already include a fix for this issue by utilizing air chambers. An air chamber is installed right behind the valve, but placed higher than the valve, allowing the valve to fill with air, giving the water a cushion when the water flow suddenly halts.
However, sometimes it can still occur, even with air chambers in place. Over time water can bubble up into the chamber, rendering the process ineffective.
Water hammer sometimes occurs at valves that have air chambers installed. When this happens, the cause is usually that water has bubbled up into the air chamber over time, nullifying its protective effects. However, a simple fix can usually remedy this issue. If you are able to shut off the main water valve you can open your faucets at the highest and lowest points in your system which will allow your chambers to fill back up with air once all the water has run through the system. Remember, if you are at all uncomfortable, remember you can always call us or your local plumber, and we can help you out.
If you find you don’t have air chambers, give us a call and we can make sure they are installed properly – which will ensure a longer-lasting life for your plumbing system.
Since the problem of water hammer is caused by pressure, it makes sense that your water pressure can play into this issue. Sometime, even with air chambers in place, you could experience water hammer if your water pressure is too high. Most local hardware stores carry water pressure gauges, so if you are concerned about this issue, it is worth the few dollars it takes to purchase one. You can easily screw the gauge on your hose bib and open the faucet all the way. Make sure there are no other open faucets in your home when you perform this test. Safe water pressure for a home should range between 50 to 80 psi, so if your water pressure higher than that you will want to contact your local water provider to see if they can help. Another solution would be to install a water pressure regulator, which can easily be done with the help of a plumber.
Water hammer, when serious enough, can do damage to your pipes and your system. Most of the fixes for this problem, however, can be a lot easier to manage than what could happen if you let the problem go. Some of the fixes are DIY, but if the problem persists reach out and give Knight Plumbing a call, we are ready and waiting to help!