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How Do I Fix a Water Hammer?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out What to Do With Water Hammer in Your Pipes

When you hear a hammering sound at night, chances are it’s a water hammer. The question is, “what is a water hammer?” Why are the pipes making a banging noise whenever you open a tap? More importantly, how do you fix a water hammer?

We understand you’re worried, but don’t worry. Water hammer is a common plumbing problem, and there’s a way to fix it. Continue reading to understand more about what a water hammer is, what causes it, and what to do about it.

Plumbing how to fix water hammer piping system
Lots of reasons can cause the water hammer sounds in your pipes.

What Is a Water Hammer?

People commonly believe that water flows smoothly, but it’s a misconception. Water churns and tumbles through pipes, valves, pumps, and toilets as it goes out of the faucets. Most of the time, water moves with a steady sound that no one ever notices.

However, there are times when you will hear a water hammer sound come out when you shut off the water or valve suddenly or when the water pressure unexpectedly increases. It happens when water comes to a sharp halt and the in-line pipes bump and move around.

A water hammer doesn’t seem like a huge problem, but it can cause a severe problem with your plumbing system if left alone. There are serious long-term effects when a water hammer is not addressed right away. Some of them are:

  • Leaky pipes, due to damage to fittings, joints, and connections that cause poor seals
  • Burst pipes, as a result of built-up pressure; can be a costly repair since it usually involves major replacement
  • System downtime, due to extensive damage; can be costly and inconvenient for the house owner
  • Damage to property, i.e. infrastructure corrosion or damage to electrical equipment, as a result of unnoticed leaks.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “is a water hammer bad for pipes?” The answer is yes. It seems harmless, but it can cause major and costly damage to your plumbing system. The question now is, “what are the causes of water hammering?” Read on to find out.

Plumbing how to fix water hammer loose pipes
See our list of common repair tips for water hammer noises.

What Are the Causes of Water Hammering?

Many homeowners have experienced banging noises coming from their pipes before. You’re probably here because you need help on how to fix a water hammer. Before we talk about that, it’s good to know what causes it.

Loose Pipes

Shockwaves inside the pipes make the physical banging worse when the pipes aren’t properly secured or have become loose over time. Pipes mustn’t be loose to make sure that they stay connected and rigid over the years. As such, you must check if your pipework is secure whenever you can.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided a list of common reasons why your pipes may make the dreaded water hammer noises, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to fix it.

Worn Out Stop Valves

Stop valves become worn or lose their gland packing over time which is one of the possible causes of a water hammer. Besides this, a water hammer can knock down the valve jumper and valve handle with its shock wave. This is because stop valves are typically always open whenever a water hammer happens.

Ball / Float Valves

Ball / float valves are one of the common causes of water hammer. It happens due to ripples in the water tank where they’re used to control the water’s inflow and outflow. The hammering sound is created due to a pressure wave resonating through the pipes. This pressure wave occurs due to the movement of the valve float inside the sealed tank.

Trapped Air

Trapped air is also a common cause of water hammers. When you fill an empty pipework too quickly, air can get into the system and end up trapped there. You can avoid this by making sure to fill the pipework system with water slowly, allowing air to escape. If not this, you can install air-relief valves to let entrapped air escape.

Fast-acting Valves

Water hammering can also be caused by fast-acting valves. These valves are often found in appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines. An example of them is the electronically operated solenoid valves, which can stop water instantly. As a result, shock waves in the water reverberate back up the pipes.

Clogged Air Chambers

If you one day experience a water hammer when you never did before, one of the likely causes of this is a blocked air chamber. Often, the reason why the air chambers become clogged is water or the mineral residues left in the water. Due to the blockage, the chamber can’t absorb the pressure in the pipe system, causing the water hammer.

Plumbing how to fix water hammer repair ideas
There are a number of solutions for water hammer problems in your pipes.

What To Do About Water Hammer Sounds

Do you want to know how to fix a water hammer? There are a few things you can do to stop that hammering sound and ensure it won’t damage your plumbing system. Check out what to do about a water hammer below.

Tighten Loose Pipes and Insulate

Since loose pipes are a common cause of a water hammer, it stands to reason that tightening and securing the pipes could help fix it. Find out which pipes are banging, and then tighten any straps that are loose or if they don’t have straps, add one. Besides securing the pipes, insulating them helps reduce water hammer and vibrations.

Install Water Hammer Arrestors

A more sophisticated solution you can try to reduce a water hammer is to install water hammer arrestors. It’s a mix of air bladders and springs that can absorb water movement, thus reducing shockwaves. Compared to using air chambers, water hammer arrestors are so much better since you don’t have to drain the system every two months.

Install Water Pressure Regulators

Besides water hammer arrestors, it also helps minimize a water hammer to install a water pressure regulator. These regulators can control the water pressure entering your house, which protects your water-using appliances. With this, you can prevent high water pressure from causing banging sounds in your pipes.

Fix Washing Machines or Dishwashers

As you know, a solenoid valve is one of the possible causes of a water hammer. It’s a component usually found in appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. If any of these appliances are causing the banging sounds you hear, getting them fixed should solve the problem. You can have their solenoid valves replaced with ones that have a slower response time.

Install Air Chambers

An air chamber installed near the banging valves can solve your water hammer problem. But for this solution, you’ll need the help of a qualified plumber. The plumber has to fabricate and install a small vertical pipe. When you turn off the water valves, this small pipe is the air chamber, which absorbs the shockwave and prevents the banging noises.

Water Hammer FAQs

What Does a Water Hammer Sound Like?

A water hammer sounds like a loud hammering noise often heard when you turn off a shower or faucet abruptly. This happens because the water pressure running through the pipes is so strong. When the pressure is suddenly halted, it creates a hammering sound similar to how a jackhammer sounds.

Is it Okay to Ignore a Water Hammer?

Ignoring a water hammer can be dangerous. It can eventually damage your pump and flow system and lead to a catastrophic failure. Leaving water hammers alone can cause excess wear, resulting in a burst pipe. It is most dangerous to ignore a water hammer if you have an old plumbing system.

Is a Water Hammer an Emergency?

A water hammer is not an emergency but it is best to get it fixed as soon as possible. While it is a common plumbing problem and seemingly just an annoying one, it can eventually cause your plumbing system damage if not addressed.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

If you’re experiencing water hammer noises, you can use our tips to help diagnose and fix it. But if you need professional help, then don’t hesitate to contact a local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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