What’s a Water Hammer, and How Do You Fix It?

Have you noticed any loud banging sounds in your water pipes? Plumbers in Longboat Key, FL, call these sounds a water hammer or hydraulic shock. Read on to learn how to recognize a water hammer, what causes it and how to resolve this plumbing problem.

What’s a Water Hammer?

Although the term water hammer might be new to you, loud banging sounds in your pipes might be a common annoyance. These sounds are irritating because the only noise you should expect is a gentle whooshing.

Water hammer, also known as hydraulic shock or hydraulic surge, is the loud banging sound that occurs when pressure builds up after shutting off any water appliance, such as a faucet or valve. This can also happen when flowing water suddenly changes direction, causing it to bang against the pipe walls or shut-off valves.

What Causes It?

It can occur when water fills in the air chambers. Air chambers regulate water pressure and prevent it from forming waves as it flows in the supply pipes. If your piping system doesn’t have air chambers, you should ask a plumber to install them because they can prevent waves that cause this issue.

If the air chambers have too much water, the plumber will turn off the shut-off valve before opening the faucets and valves. Opening the faucets drains the water, which allows the air chambers to open and the water to flow.

Water hammer might also result from residential high water pressure. This water pressure might originate from a water appliance like a faucet. These loud bangs might also occur if the sitting pressure of your plumbing system is very high.

Finally, it might occur because of old wiggling water pipes. When these pipes swing or wiggle, they produce these loud banging sounds. To fix these old pipes, a plumber can use pipe supports such as clamps and hangers to hold them securely.

What are the Effects?

Sometimes, you might want to dismiss these loud banging sounds as harmless. However, water hammer is dangerous, and continued banging can affect your piping system.

One significant effect of water hammer is that it damages the pump and flow system. This means it could spoil the existing valves and pumps or lead to damage to the expansion joints. When water wears the expansion joints, it could result in leaks, which begin slowly and increase in intensity.

Another effect is the risk of ruptured pipes. These ruptured pipes are expensive to repair and can cause immense damage to the entire plumbing system.

Don’t let damage from water hammer create a serious problem in your home. If you reside in Longboat Key, FL and need plumbing services, contact Custom Air & Plumbing.

Image provided by iStock

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