Water Hammer

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Blog Highlights

  • The banging sound in pipes is commonly referred to as a “water hammer”
  • If your plumbing systems’ water pressure is too high, this can cause the water hammer effect
  • If you don’t feel comfortable securing your the pipes, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber

Water pipes should be pretty quiet. If you start to hear a banging sound coming from behind your walls, this can indicate that there is a problem with your plumbing. The banging sound is commonly referred to as a “water hammer.” When a faucet, water appliance, or valve is turned off and isn’t working properly, the water pressure can rise. The water needs somewhere to go  and without release, it hits against the pipes, causing the hammering sound. If you notice this sound, it’s important that you contact a Salt Lake City or Park City plumber immediately.

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Causes of a Water Hammer

Water in the Air Chamber

One of the most common causes of water hammers is when water gets trapped in one or more of the air chambers. Air chambers are pipes that help regulate water pressure and water supply flow.  If the air chambers are non-existent due to an old plumbing system, you should have a plumber install them at once. If the air chambers are compromised, you should have them repaired to eliminate the water hammer sounds and prevent further damage.

Occasionally, the air chambers simply need to be reset. In order to reset the chambers, turn off your main water valve. Open all of your faucets, including those outside and ones that you don’t use often. By opening these faucets you drain any water that was kept in the air chambers by pressure. Once the chambers drain, turn the faucets off and turn your water back on.

If resetting your air chambers doesn’t solve your water hammer issue, then you probably have one of the following issues:

High Residential Water Pressure

If your plumbing system’s water pressure is too high, this can cause the water hammer effect. In order to check your water pressure, use a water pressure gauge kit or contact your plumber. You can purchase a kit from your local hardware store. To check the pressure, turn off all your appliances and faucets. Use the kit by attaching the gauge to a valve or hose bib near your main water supply source. Open the valve slowly. The needle on the gauge will start to move, when it stops, read the the number. If the number exceeds 80 psi, your water pressure is too high. You should contact a plumber. They can install a pressure regulator or replace a faulty or outdated one.

One Strong Appliance

Individual appliances can sometimes cause a water hammer. Typically a washing machine, dishwasher, sprinkler system, or ice maker are the most common culprits. Pay attention to your appliances. Do you only hear the water hammer when the washing machine is running or the dishwasher? If so, that appliance is the one upsetting the water pressure.

Once you identify the appliance, you can install a water hammer arrester or in-line water surge arrester. There are a number of different types of water hammer arresters based on the type of appliance and space available for installation. You can find different options at your local hardware store, such as a large hose-bib-style arrester for high volume water appliances, a mini  end-stop arrester for smaller spaces, and a single-chamber arrester.

Speak with your plumber or a professional. They can help identify the best solution is based on your individual situation.

Unstable Old Pipes

If you live in an older house, your water supply pipes may not be sufficiently secured. With changes in water flow and pressure, the pipes may swing or move, causing a banging sound. If you can, check any visible pipes. Gently tug the pipes to see if they have any give. Ask someone to turn the faucets on and then off as you examine the pipes. If you notice any movement, you’ve probably found the problem spot.

You can use pipe supports, pipe tape, or pipe clips to secure the pipes. Be careful if you have copper pipes. Do not use galvanized or steel clips to secure the pipes as this might eventually lead to leaks, use plastic instead.

If you don’t feel comfortable securing your own pipes, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber.

Have you been hearing a water hammer? We at Tingey can identify the cause and solve the problem today!

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