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Hydraulic shock is a common plumbing issue that can cause loud banging or knocking sounds in your pipes. This phenomenon occurs when the flow of water abruptly changes, causing a surge of pressure within the pipes. You may have heard neighbors or your plumber refer to this startling phenomenon as water hammer. What is water hammer, and how do you make it stop? Learn why this issue occurs and how to address it so you can maintain a functional plumbing system.
Why Does Water Hammer Happen?
Water hammer is a loud banging or rattling noise that comes from the pipes in your house. It’s typically caused by the sudden stopping or change in the direction of water flow in a pipe when you turn faucets or appliances on or off. This action opens or closes the valve quickly. The rapid change in water flow creates a shockwave that travels through the pipes, leading to the characteristic banging noise.
How Do You Make Water Hammer Stop?
You can use several techniques to stop water hammer in your pipes. One simple method is to shut off the water supply to your home temporarily, then drain and refill your pipes.
To do this, find your water shutoff. It’s usually located in the basement or near the point where your water supply enters your home. Then, open a faucet at the highest level of your house. Leave that on, and open another faucet on the lowest level of your house. With both taps open, turn the water supply back on to fill your pipes with flowing water again. Once the water is flowing at regular pressure, turn off the faucets. This should alleviate the banging and rattling you hear with water hammer.
Turning off the main water valve reduces the pressure in the pipes and potentially eliminates the water hammer effect. However, this is only a temporary solution and may not address the underlying cause of the problem.
Adding Plumbing Fittings To Stop Water Hammer
In some cases, you can resolve hydraulic shock by installing water hammer arrestors or an air chamber. Arrestors go near the source of the water hammer, such as at the shutoff valves or near appliances that cause the issue. Air chambers, on the other hand, are vertical pipes filled with air that create a cushion to absorb the pressure waves. These devices act as shock absorbers, reducing the effects of the pressure surges.
The Role of Valves in Water Hammer
When addressing water hammer, consider the type of valve in your plumbing system. Gate valves have a sliding gate that controls water flow. They are more prone to causing water hammer due to their design. You should learn more about gate valves if they are part of your home’s plumbing system. On the other hand, ball valves use a rotating ball to control water flow, so they tend to minimize the issue. Upgrading to ball valves can reduce the occurrence of water hammer in your plumbing system.
When To Call a Plumber
Replacing a shutoff or other valve in your water system is a task best handled by a professional plumber. DIY can resolve some instances of water hammer. However, seek professional help if the banging or knocking sounds persist despite attempting DIY solutions or if leaks, reduced water pressure, or other plumbing issues accompany the problem. A plumber can inspect the piping, identify the cause of hydraulic shock, and offer appropriate solutions to resolve the problem.
Learning what water hammer is and how to make it stop can make your home more enjoyable and silence startling and annoying banging noises coming from the pipes. Know when to seek professional assistance from a plumber in order to avoid damage to your plumbing system. Complex water hammer problems can affect the long-term integrity of your pipes; in extreme cases, it can cause them to burst. Professional plumbers can address the problem so you can use water in your home confidently without bracing yourself for noisy disruptions at home.