Water Hammer: How To Detect And Resolve It
If your plumbing is making hammering and clanging noises, you may have more to deal with than just an annoyance. Solving the problem is essential for protecting your plumbing as well as your sanity. Do you call a plumber straight away, or can you take steps on your own to resolve the problem?
Noisy Plumbing – What’s The Cause?
There are two issues that can cause your pipes to make noise:
* Air Hammer. This happens when air gets trapped in your pipes, and it’s usually tied to operating valves or faucets.
* Water Hammer. This occurs when the water shuts off abruptly. In most cases, it causes a loud ‘bang’ followed by a whole string of gradually softening hammering noises.
Air hammer is a relatively straightforward issue caused by trapped air pockets introduced into your plumbing system by the normal operation of valves and faucets. This air gets compressed and then releases with a popping sound once you open a valve to give it a release. The loud noise is similar to the air coming out of an air gun.
Water hammer can be more complicated. It starts when you shut off the water and the still-moving water in the pipes slams into the faucet valve. This is the source of the initial loud bang. The follow-on noises cause from additional surges caused by air pockets forming deeper in the plumbing system. These surges become less and less intense as the pressure on the pocket falls.
Fixing Water Hammer
Air hammer can sometimes be solved by cutting off your home’s mains water supply, draining the pipes completely, and then turning the water back on. This same procedure may help fix water hammer as well. If it’s not effective, your only real alternative is to turn off your faucets gradually in order to keep the momentum from building up when the valve is closed.
Most modern plumbing systems include air chambers specifically designed to keep water hammer from happening. Over time, these chambers can be clogged up by mineral deposits. If this situation is producing water hammer, having the air chambers cleaned out by a professional plumber will solve the problem.
In an older home without these features, there are two further ways to try and address water hammer. In some cases, lowering the overall water pressure in the system can reduce or eliminate water hammer. Alternatively, you can hire a plumber to install air chambers in your system. This is likely the best long-term solution, as water hammer causes undue strain on your pipes and may even lead to expensive breakages. A few banging sounds are an annoyance, but a broken pipe is a serious (and costly!) plumbing problem.