When plumbing pipes start knocking behind your walls this season, but you don’t know that it’s your pipes making the noise, you might start to wonder if ghosts are real and if they are haunting your living space.
This is probably not the case! A more realistic culprit is something known as water hammer. This sounds mysterious, and truth be told of all the plumbing problems that can occur in your home, this is one of the most benign. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored or that you should delay doing something about it.
If left unaddressed, water hammer can eventually cause your pipes to leak, and then you’re looking at potential water damage, not to mention water waste. Read on as we uncover what you should do if you’re being impacted by water hammer.
What Causes Water Hammer?
What you are detecting when you hear that startling clang that comes echoing from your pipes is a shockwave. This shockwave is created by the sudden stopping and reversal of the flow of water inside your plumbing pipes.
It creates a vibration within the pipe, and this is why you hear a noise that resembles a hammer striking metal–water hammer.
Every time you turn off a faucet, or a valve to a plumbing appliance shuts off in your home, it causes the water to make an abrupt stop. So then you might be wondering, why don’t you hear water hammer all the time–every time you shut off the shower or kitchen sink faucet?
Well, because your plumbing system is designed with air cushions for the water. These are chambers in the pipes that absorb the shock, so that there isn’t any water hammer. However, water hammer can happen when:
- The air chambers get too water-logged, which eliminates the cushion against the shockwave.
- You have too high of water pressure. If your household is dealing with an increase in water preassure from the municipal system for any reason, the air cushions might not be enough.
- You have loose pipes within your plumbing system. Even a mild shockwave in the pipes that are loose can create water hammer.
The Problem with Water Hammer
Like we mentioned above, this is a relatively minor problem. However, if your pipes aren’t already loose, the shockwaves of water hammer can cause them to become loose, and can cause other plumbing system damage too.
For instance, your fixtures can start to suffer and you could end up with loose joints and leaky pipes. This is especially true if you live in an older home with equally old pipes.
How to Stop Water Hammer
So, what can be done? Well, it depends on what caused the water hammer to begin with. Our professional plumbers can help you determine why the problem is impacting your pipes, and then provide a solution, which might include:
- Refilling the air chambers.
- Securing or replacing loose pipes or loose pipe joints.
- Installing a water pressure regulator.
Whatever the problem is, we have the solution, and we’re happy to help!