What Is Water Hammer?
If you’ve ever shut off a large appliance in your home like a dishwasher or laundry machine and then heard a surprising knocking sound coming from the plumbing pipes, you’ve just experienced water hammer.
Although the term is sometimes used to refer to any noise coming from pipes, it’s actually a specific kind of problem. Below we’ll go into more detail about what water hammer is, what it can do to your pipes, and how to deal with it.
Water Hammer, Your Plumbing, and Your Plumber
When a tap closes off in the pipes and causes the movement of water to stop abruptly, the water creates a shock wave that generates the knocking sound known as water hammer. The reason that you don’t normally hear this whenever you close off a tap or stop running a water-using appliance is that plumbing is designed with air chambers that serve as buffers against these shock waves. But if the air in these chambers is gradually absorb into the water, the shock wave will start to create those startling noises.
But there’s more than an annoying noise to water hammer. These pressure jolts can damage your pipes and create long-term damage to the plumbing, such causing burst pipes and failed fittings. To stop water hammer, it’s best to call on a professional plumber. Don’t wait long to arrange for this service, since water hammer can rapidly turn more serious.
A licensed plumber will find out the source of the water hammer. In some cases, the water pressure in your plumbing may have spiked. Placing a pressure reduction valve on the water main can help with this, although in some cases it may cause too much of a pressure drop. The plumber can also install air chambers into the plumbing if there is sufficient room.
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