What is Water Hammer?

Do your pipes make loud and unusual noises? Noisy pipes can be a big annoyance, even waking you up in the middle of the night. While there may be various reasons for noisy pipes, a loud banging noise is usually caused by a phenomenon called water hammer. This is a common plumbing problem and usually not much to worry about it when addressed promptly. Read on to find out more about water hammer and how to stop it from happening.

What is water hammer?

Water hammer is the common name for hydraulic shock in your pipes. The water in your pipes suddenly stops or changes direction, creating a surge or wave of pressure. This is commonly caused by a valve suddenly closing, like when you turn off a faucet or your washing machine finishes its cycle.

The increase in pressure caused by this sudden stop creates a shockwave that moves through your pipes, causing them to vibrate. As parts of the pipe move, they clatter against other pipes and surrounding fixtures, creating the loud banging noise. If this happens repeatedly, then the pipes can suffer a lot of damage.

What causes water hammer?

Pipe systems contain air chambers that are there to cushion the pressure created when water suddenly stops or changes directions, preventing water hammer. So, if you’re suddenly experiencing water hammer, what’s to blame?

One common cause is simply that your pipes have become loose over time or were not properly secured when initially installed. If this is the case, shockwaves are more likely to rattle the pipes. It may also be that your plumbing’s air chambers have stopped doing their job properly. These chambers can become clogged by water and a build-up of mineral deposits.

Alternatively, the problem could be caused by your valves. If valves are particularly fast to close, then the noise from water hammer is more likely. Worn out valves are also more likely to cause water hammer.

How to stop water hammer

With so many potential causes of water hammer, it’s a good idea to call in a plumber to inspect your pipes and diagnose the problem. If damage has been caused to the pipes because of the shockwaves, then this may also need repairing.

In terms of stopping water hammer, it may just be that your pipes need tightening and securing properly, or it may require a new air chamber or valve replacement. Installing foam insulation around your pipes can also help to cushion the blow from built-up pressure and reduce or prevent the noise of water hammer. Installing a pressure regulator in your home can reduce the water pressure in your pipes and the shockwaves created by the water’s movement.

If you have problems with water hammer in your home around Clemmons, Winston Salem, and Lewisville, NC, then contact Brandon Plumbing to have a local plumber fix this problem for you.