A working and properly functioning plumbing system is the dream of every homeowner. However, as time goes by, you may experience unexpected plumbing problems. One of the problems is the loud banging sound that comes from the plumbing pipes when shut off valves are suddenly closed. This loud noise is referred to as a water hammer.
Hammering water pipes are not only annoying, but they can also cause serious damage to your pipes and fixtures. Luckily, there are several quick and easy ways you can fix it. In this guide, we are going to discuss what is water hammering, the cause of water hammering, signs of water hammering, and the different ways of fixing them.
What is Water Hammering?
Have you been hearing loud banging noises in your pipes when you turn off the water? Don’t worry, it’s not ghosts. It’s something called water hammering that occurs when a shut off valve is closed. It’s caused by the sudden and rapid change in pressure that occurs when a shut off valve is closed. This pressure change can cause air bubbles and turbulence in the pipes, resulting in a loud noise.
For instance, when using washing machines, dishwashers, and other household appliances that require a lot of water, the force of the fast-moving water against the closed valve creates a shock wave that causes the pipes to rattle and vibrate.
Water hammering in pipe is also referred to as hydraulic shock, hydraulic hammering, and plumbing valve slam. This banging noise can be quite loud and annoying, and it can also cause serious damage to your plumbing pipes. You must therefore find a water-hammering solution as quickly as possible.
What Causes Water Hammering?
As mentioned earlier, the primary cause of water hammer is the sudden pressure change in the pipes. It can be caused by several factors, such as:
1. High water pressure
One of the main causes of water hammering is high water pressure. Normally, any home’s water pressure should be between 40 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). If the water pressure is too high, it can cause turbulence in the pipes, resulting in water hammering.
2. Fast-acting solenoid valves
A solenoid valve is generally a valve that is controlled by an electric current. When the valve is shut off, it does so quickly and abruptly, which can cause a pressure change in the water flow.
3. Clogged air chambers
Air chambers are integral components of every home’s plumbing system. These are pipes filled with compressed air that act as a shock absorber for water hammering. They absorb the sudden pressure change and prevent hammering. However, if they become clogged or filled with water, they can no longer do their job. This can create a water hammer effect.
As you can see, there are several causes of water hammering and it’s important to identify the cause in order to find the perfect water hammer fix.
How Do You Know If You Have Water Hammer?
In most cases, the sound of hammering water pipes can be easily heard. However, there are also other signs that you should look out for. These include:
1. Pipes rattling
The sound of pipes rattling can indicate water hammering. This is because the pressure change from the shock wave caused by the water hammering can cause the pipes to rattle.
2. Faucets sputtering
If you have a water hammer, the pressure change can cause air bubbles in the pipes. This can cause your faucets to sputter or spurt when you turn them on, which is another sign of water hammering.
3. Water meter spinning
If you have a water meter, you may notice that it is spinning faster than usual. This is because the shock waves from the water hammering can increase the pressure in the pipes, which makes the water meter spin faster.
4. High water bills
High water bills can also be an indication of water hammering. When the pressure change from the shock wave causes air bubbles in the pipes, more water is needed to fill them. This increased flow results in higher water bills.
It might take you time to identify some of these signs. This makes a loud bang and rattling sound in your pipes the most noticeable sign of a water hammer. If you hear an irritating banging noise coming from your pipes, it’s an indication that you have a water hammering issue and it needs to be addressed.
How To Fix Water Hammer
So far, we have discussed the causes and symptoms of water hammering. Now, it’s time to learn how to stop water hammer. In connection to some of the causes of water hammer, there are several different solutions that you can try. These include:
1. Adjusting the water pressure
If your home has high water pressure, then adjusting the pressure is one of the quickest and easiest ways to fix water hammer. One way to reduce water pressure is by installing a water pressure regulator. A water pressure regulator is a device that helps regulate the water pressure in your home by reducing it to a safe level.
2. Installing air chambers
Modern homes come with an air chamber already installed. However, if you have an older home, the water system may not have air chambers. If this is the case, then you can install your own air chamber.
An air chamber is an essential component of any plumbing system and it helps to absorb the shock wave caused by the water hammer. This helps to reduce the noise and keeps your pipes safe. Therefore, if you are having a water hammer issue, the best solution is to have air chambers installed in your home’s plumbing system.
3. Install water hammer arrestors
Water hammer arrestors are devices that can be installed in the pipes of your home to help reduce the shock waves from water hammering. Water hammer arrestors are similar to air chambers, but they are specifically designed for water hammering. They absorb the shock wave from the water pressure and prevent it from causing damage to your pipes.
The water hammer arresters are a great solution for households that have high water pressure. If you live in an area with high water pressure, then it is a good idea to have a water hammer arrestor installed and properly secured in your plumbing system.
4. Install a water pressure gauge
If you don’t have a water pressure gauge installed in your home, then it is important to install one. A pressure gauge can help you easily monitor the water pressure in your home. This will help you to identify if your water pressure is too high, and it will also help you to detect sudden changes in water pressure that may indicate a water hammering issue.
The pressure gauge can be acquired easily from hardware stores. However, you must choose the right gauge for your home. This will help you to accurately measure and monitor water pressure in your house.
5. Pipe insulation
Pipe insulation is another great water hammer fix. Pipe insulation refers to the practice of wrapping the pipes in your home with insulation material. This becomes a shock absorber and can help to reduce the shock wave from hydraulic shock.
It is also important to note that you must use the right type of insulation material for your home’s pipes. Non-foam insulation material is the best choice for this purpose.
6. Install other faucets
One other way to fix water hammering is by installing soft-close faucets and valves. Soft-close faucets and valves are designed to close slowly, thus reducing the shock wave caused by water hammering. They are perfect for homes that experience frequent water hammering because they reduce the impact of the hydraulic shock on your pipes.
7. Install a water pressure reducing valve
If all else fails, then you can install a water pressure reducing valve. This is a special type of water valve that helps to reduce the water pressure in the home. This will help to reduce the shock wave from hydraulic shock and also make sure that your plumbing system is safe from damage due to water hammering.
The pressure reducing water valve can, for instance, be installed on the first floor of your home and it will help you to reduce the water pressure on the upper floors as well. This is an effective water hammer fix that can help to keep your pipes safe.
These are some of the effective water hammer fixes that you can try if your home is experiencing water hammering issues. Remember, if you experience frequent water hammering issues in your home, then it is best to call a professional plumber to have a look at your home’s plumbing system. They will be able to identify the cause of the problem and suggest the best way to fix it.
How To Fix Water Hammer FAQs
How do you permanently fix a water hammer?
The best way to permanently fix a water hammer is to install an air chamber, install a water hammer arrestor, tighten loose straps, install a water pressure gauge, insulate pipes, install other faucets & valves, and install a water pressure reducing valve.
How much does it cost to fix water hammer?
The cost of fixing water hammer depends on the type and complexity of the issue. Generally, it is recommended to call a professional plumber who can identify the cause of the problem and suggest the best way to fix it. The cost for this service can range from $150-$300, depending on the severity of the issue.
Should I worry about water hammer?
Yes, it is important to take water hammer seriously and address the issue as soon as possible.