Water hammer (technically known as hydraulic shock) refers to the loud banging noise your plumbing system makes when a tap is turned off abruptly, or an appliance (such as a dishwasher or washing machine) suddenly shuts off its water intake.
This is caused when water is sharply stopped or there is a quick change in water direction, with the increase in water pressure causing a shock wave to pulse through the pipes.
The banging sound you are hearing is the result of the pipes hitting the walls, framing or other pipes as a result of the shock wave.
While a hammer can be irritating (especially if it is caused by your irrigation turning off at 5am in the morning when you are trying to sleep), it can lead to more serious issues down the track.
Water hammer can occur in both copper and PEX pipes (although it is less noticeable in the PEX variety) and can become so forceful that pipes can break or become loose at the joints, resulting in burst pipes and water leaks.
This is why it is important to get on top of the problem before disaster strikes.
Making the diagnosis
Water hammer can be misdiagnosed when air pockets become real culprits behind the clanging pipes. There is a simple way to distinguish between the two issues, as air pockets will result in the banging sound when taps are turned on, whereas a hammer occurs when taps are turned off.
If you believe you have air pockets in your pipes, drain them completely and refill the system. Open your taps and valves to ensure water is evenly distributed through the system.
Water hammer can be more difficult to solve, so call in our Perth Plumbers at No Probs Plumbing and gas if you need an expert opinion.
Securing Loose Pipes
If your plumbing is not well secured, even a mild shock wave can cause a racket and make the problem appear to be worse than it is.
A mild water hammer is not likely to cause any serious damage to your water lines, meaning you can simply tighten any loose pipe straps which help keep the pipes secure.
Check the water pressure
The problem will be exacerbated if your household water pressure is too high. 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 contacting a Perth plumber to install a pressure reducing valve.
Install an air chamber
A method you can adopt to cure an air hammer is to install a short section of vertical pipe near the valves which are causing the hammer.
These can either be made and installed by a plumber on site, as it is simply a capped short section of pipe, or purchased at your hardware store. As this dead-end pipe resides outside of where water flows, it 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.
The issue with this solution is the chamber can become filled with water, which will stop it from functioning correctly.
Install an Anti Hammer Water Control Valve
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 the issue by switching from flick-type taps to soft close mixer taps with shock absorbers.
If you are feeling the pressure, call in our Perth plumbers
If the job is too big for you 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.
Call our Perth plumbers and gas fitters today on 9315 5545 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.