Hammer Time – What Is Water Hammer?

Have you ever turned off your faucet, only to be met with a loud banging sound from your pipes? Don’t worry, there isn’t a banshee in your pipes, it’s called water hammer. The sound of banging pipes can be quite alarming, you may chalk it up to a funny little quirk that your plumbing has, however this shouldn’t be the case. Water hammer can lead to serious plumbing problems, so it isn’t something you should get used to. 

water pressure
Image Credit: Process Worldwide

What Is Water Hammer?

Water hammer occurs when there is a sudden change of pressure in your pipes. When a faucet or valve is suddenly closed, it causes a change in pressure. This change in momentum can result in the water slamming against the walls of your pipes or your shutoff valve as it changes direction. This resounds in the banging noise that you hear, and is described as the sound of a hammer, hence the name. 

 

What Causes Water Hammer?

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing water hammer. Most are simple fixes. The most common causes of are:

 

High Water Pressure 

High pressure is a common cause of water hammer. It is often caused by the water municipality. If you live in an area with a lot of hills or tall buildings, extra pressure may be needed to supply water to all locations. In addition, if your home is located near a fire hydrant, you may also experience high water pressure. 

water pressure
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Residential water pressure should be at 80 psi. When it is higher, you may experience water hammer. However, it isn’t the only symptom of high water pressure. You may also notice a heavy flow of water shooting out of the faucet when you turn it on. If you have high water pressure, a water pressure regulator valve needs to be installed. Contact your plumber to learn more.

 

Water Using Appliance

Sometimes the use of one of your appliances can cause a sudden surge in pressure. To alleviate this a mechanical shock arrestor needs to be installed. A mechanical shock arrestor goes in your plumbing joints and helps absorb the sudden change in pressure so that your pipes don’t bang.

plumbing repair

Loose Pipes

Another reason for water hammer is your pipes are loose. This can happen with older plumbing, as the wear and tear over the years can loosen the brackets that hold your pipes in place. When your pipes have wiggle room, they can easily bang around. To fix this, new brackets should be installed to hold pipes in place. 

plumbing repair
Image Credit: Home Depot

The Dangers Of Water Hammer

The problem with water hammer isn’t the obnoxious banging around, but the damage that can be done. Pipes that bang around can eventually spring leaks or even burst. This is especially true if your pipes are wiggling around. 

 

Water hammer is usually the sign that something else is wrong with your plumbing. This is not a symptom you should ignore, as a burst pipe can do a lot of damage and lead to costly repairs. Get your plumbing inspected today! Contact Rooter Hero today to learn more. 

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