Water Hammer: What It Is, What to Do About It
October 21, 2019
Water hammer sounds like a magical weapon an aquatic superhero might wield, but it’s more mundane than that. Mundane doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, however. A flat car tire is mundane, but it’s still bad news and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. When you notice water hammer in your plumbing—and it’s hard to ignore—it often means issues requiring a licensed plumber in Andover, MA to investigate and discover what repairs the pipes may need.
The Nitty Gritty Facts of Water HammerWhen you hear a loud bang! echoing from the pipes in your house when you shut off a faucet or while you’re running the dishwasher or laundry machine, that sound is water hammer. The technical term is hydraulic shock, but the surprise noise like somebody smashed a hammer against metal pipes is much more descriptive. The cause of water hammer is the shockwaves that occur when water either stops or changes direction abruptly, such as when a tap halts water flow in a pipe. These shockwaves create noise as they hit the pipe. They also cause the pipe to rattle and vibrate. If stopping water flow creates a shockwave, why don’t you hear water hammer all the time? The reason is the pipes have air chambers to absorb the shockwaves without letting them strike the pipe metal or cause the pipe to jitter.
Water Hammer Isn’t Good for PlumbingYou’ll have more problems then jump scares when water hammer slams your home. The impact of water hammer can inflict damage to pipes and the materials around them. Shaking pipes will come loose. The shockwaves can cause damage to appliances. The longer this assault goes on, the more water hammer will weaken the plumbing, leading to expensive future repairs.
The Causes of Water Hammer—And Its CuresPlumbing air cushions can fail to prevent water hammer for several reasons.
- Loose pipes: Pipes that have come loose from straps and hangers may start to vibrate from even the smallest shockwave. If you hear water hammer from a specific area with exposed pipes, such as the basement, check to see if any pipes are loose.
- Water-logged air chambers: This is the most common reason for water hammer. Air chambers overwhelmed with water can’t absorb shockwaves. This is an easy problem to fix for a professional plumber.
- High-pressure water: Sometime air cushions can’t stop the shockwaves coming from water that is much higher pressure than it should be. The water pressure in your home should range between 30 to 55 psi. If the pressure spikes higher (often because of the municipal water supply), it can create water hammer. High water pressure is bad news all around, and not just because of the water hammer. Call a plumber to install a pressure regulator on your plumbing.
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