Water hammer, or hydraulic shock, is the annoying banging sound your plumbing system makes when a tap is turned off abruptly. It can also happen when an appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine suddenly shuts off its water intake.
Whenever the water flow is suddenly stopped, there is a quick change in water direction and combined with the increase in water pressure, this causes shock waves to pulse through the piping system.
The banging sound you are hearing is the result of the pipes hitting the walls, framing or other pipes as the result of these shock waves.
While water hammer can be irritating, (especially if it is caused by your irrigation turning off at 5am in the morning when you’re trying to sleep), it can lead to more serious issues down the track.
Water hammer can occur in both copper and PEX pipes, and can become so forceful that pipes can become loose at the joints, and burst. Burst pipes, particularly in wall cavities, can cause immense damage to your house and electrical system. Neither wires nor walls like being covered in water.
This is why it’s important to get on top of the problem before disaster strikes.
Diagnose the problem
It’s important not to misdiagnose your water hammer problem. That’s because air pockets within your plumbing system make a similar sound when you turn the tap on. Water hammer, on the other hand, is when the loud sound occurs when you turn the tap off.
If you believe you have entrapped air in your pipes, you’ll want to drain them completely and refill the system. If you’re doing a DIY job, it helps to fully open your taps and valves to ensure even water flow throughout your plumbing system.
Both water hammer and air pockets can be difficult to solve, so calling in the experts can save time and money. Call our Perth Plumbers at No Probs Plumbing and Electrical if you need an expert opinion.
Secure Loose Water Pipes
If your plumbing is not well secured, even a mild shock wave can cause a racket and damage your pipes and air chambers.
And while mild water hammer is not likely to cause any serious damage to your water lines in the short term, these issues generally worsen overtime weakening pipe connections and the shutoff valve. Tightening loose pipes within your plumbing system, and those connected to your home appliances can greatly reduce the risk of damage.
Use quality plumber’s tape when fixing up connections as this will protect against leaks and the agony of burst pipes.
Check The Water Pressure
Your water hammer problem will be exacerbated if your household water pressure is too high. A plumber is able to test the water pressure with a gauge which can be screwed onto an exterior hose bib, or behind the washing machine.
If you have a reading which is higher than 500 kpa (or 75 psi), you should consider having a water pressure reducing valve installed at your water meter.
Install An Air Chamber
One way of fixing water hammer is to install a short section of vertical pipe near the pipes or valves which are causing the water hammer.
These can either be made and installed by a plumber on site, because it’s simply a capped short section of pipe, or purchased at your local plumbing supply store. This dead-end pipe sits outside of where water flows and traps a pocket of air.
This air-filled pipe, or air chamber, provides a cushion for water to rebound into when changing direction and therefore absorbs the shock.
This air-filled pipe, or air chamber, provides a cushion for water to rebound into when there are sudden changes in pressure.
Install A Water Hammer Arrestor
Available at Bunnings, the DoustStop water hammer arrestor can help to eliminate or reduce water hammer when attached to washing machines, dishwashers or shower heads.
The valve slows down the flow of the water supply and allows the use of another tap in the home simultaneously as it balances the supply.
You can further prevent water hammer by switching from flick-type taps to soft close mixer taps with shock absorbers.
Feeling The Pressure? Call Our Perth Plumbers
If the job is too big to tackle, call in the professionals to solve your water hammer issues before they cause costly damage to your home.
As fully qualified Perth emergency plumbers, we are available 24/7 – ready to answer your call when you need us most!
Our workmanship is always of the highest quality, performed by trained professionals and backed by our customer service guarantee.
With no call-out fees and obligation-free quotes, No Probs Plumbing is your high-quality solution for all plumbing services in your home or business.