The home is full of sounds – kids running around, television playing in the family room, laundry spinning around in the dryer. One place you don’t expect a loud commotion is your plumbing. So what if you hear a sudden banging noise coming from your pipes? You may have what is called a water hammer. Today, we’ll explain what that means, what causes it, and how to fix it.
What is a water hammer?
A water hammer, technically called hydraulic shock, occurs when pressurized water bangs against the pipe walls or a valve that shuts (when you turn off a faucet, for example). It’s a common plumbing issue, but not one that should be ignored. Aside from being annoying, a water hammer can put extra stress on your plumbing, which can eventually turn into a leak.
What causes a water hammer?
There are a few things that could cause noisy pipes in your home. It’s important to find the exact cause of your issue so you can take the proper steps to addressing it.
Water in air chambers.
Air chambers are vertical pipes built into your plumbing system. They’re designed to regulate pressure and keep water flowing smoothly. If too much water gets in the air chambers, they can’t do their job.
The good news is you can reset the air chambers by turning off your house’s main water shut-off valve, turning on all the faucets in your home (including outdoor hose bibbs), and draining all the water out of the plumbing.
Appliance pressure fluctuations.
If the water hammer only happens when you’re running a dishwasher, washing machine, or sprinkler system, the change in water pressure from that appliance could be the cause. Installing a water hammer arrestor to the appliance should take care of the problem.
High water pressure.
You’re more likely to experience water hammers if your home’s water pressure is too high. An easy way to check this is by purchasing a water pressure gauge kit from a home improvement store.
Before running the test, be sure to close all faucets and turn off appliances using water. Attach the gauge to your hose bibb (outdoor faucet) and slowly open the valve all the way. The gauge will give you a reading. If it says your pressure is more than 80 psi, then your water pressure is too high and you’ll need to install a pressure regulator.
When pipes are not properly secured to the home’s structure, the change in water pressure can make them shake. Often, you can identify which pipes are loose and causing the banging noise, then secure them with pipe supports or plumber’s tape.
There are other causes of water hammers, but these are the most common. If you have noisy pipes, call Rick’s Plumbing at (203) 874-6629. One of our licensed plumbers will come out and fix the problem once and for all.