What Is Water Hammer?
A water hammer is essentially a thumping noise that occurs within the pipes of a plumbing systems when a valve is abruptly closed. It occurs when a shock wave generated by the closure of water flow travels through the pipes, causing the fittings and pipes to shake and produce a pounding or knocking noise.
Water hammers can be caused by several factors, including:
- High-pressure water systems
- Loose pipes or fittings
- Valves that close too quickly
- Worn out or damaged components in the plumbing system
Over time, water hammers can harm the plumbing system, leading to broken pipes and fittings. Additionally, they may result in water leaks and reduce the quality of your plumbing system.
Regular plumbing and quickly addressing faults resolved by a qualified plumber are essential to preventing water hammering. It is best to have your plumbing system checked up by a plumber as soon as possible if you start noticing water hammering.
What are the main causes of a water hammer?
The hammering sound is caused when water stops or changes direction suddenly. The sudden stop in flow or direction causes the pipes to move and strike against other pipes, plumbing components or framing parts.
It’s not what is supposed to happen.
As well as being noisy and disruptive, water hammering can cause damage to your pipes and other plumbing components. It can cause pipes to break and plumbing joints to loosen, which could then cause further damage or leakage. So it’s best to get on top of the problem as quickly as possible.
How do you stop water hammer?
As soon as you hear any water hammering from your pipes – even if it’s just a faint banging or any other subtle noise that doesn’t sound right – get in touch with us at Sumich Plumbing. We’d prefer to stop any issues while they’re still minor, rather than waiting until you have more extensive, expensive problems to fix.
There are a few things we can do to repair water hammering.
Regulate the water pressure
Sometimes water hammer occurs because the water pressure in the house is too high. You’ll hear people talk about water pressure using the terms psi or kPa. These are the abbreviations for the units of pressure, kilopascals (kPa) and pound-force per square inch (psi).
What’s the difference? One is metric (kPa), and one is imperial (psi). In New Zealand, we use kPa.
To convert from one measurement to the other, we multiply the number of kPa by 0.145. To make this a bit easier, let’s use a multiplier of 0.15 so we’re using clean numbers we can multiply easily (1 kPa is equal to 0.15 psi; 100 kPa is equal to 15 psi, 200 kPa is equal to 30 psi, etc).
According to Watercare, mains pressure water is provided to homes in Auckland at a minimum of 200 kPa. In some homes, the water pressure can be much higher – even up to 500 kPa.
So, if you hear banging in your pipes and suspect you have water hammering, one of the first things we’ll do is check your water pressure. If it’s too high, we’ll reduce it slightly to stop the hammering. We do this by installing a water pressure regulator. Don’t worry – we’ll reduce the water pressure slightly so that the banging is gone, but you won’t notice a difference in your shower or washing up.
Secure any loose pipes
The hammering sound is often caused by pipes banging with the “shock” of water stopping because the pipes are no longer securely fitted. They either weren’t installed properly (very common with DIY work), or they have come loose over time.
We can secure the pipes by tightening or changing the pipe straps or hangers that hold the pipe in place. If needed, we can also pack foam pipe insulation around the pipes to absorb the sound or “shock” of the movement of the pipes. Packing insulation around the pipes is often an easier way to reduce the shock and noise if the pipes are in a tight or tricky spot where it’s difficult to reach the pipe strapping.
Install an air chamber
Another way to repair the water hammering is to install an air chamber. This is sometimes also called a water hammer arrestor. It is a small section of vertical pipe that creates a small air pocket near where the water hammering is occurring. The small air-filled pipe provides a cushion for water to rebound into when it changes direction suddenly. The air in the chamber compresses temporarily and absorbs the shock that would otherwise go into the pipes and create the “shock” or banging.
The Sumich Plumbing team can install an air chamber if we determine that it’s the best method for repairing the water hammering you’re experiencing. It’s best to have a registered plumber install an air chamber as there is the risk of further damage if they’re not installed correctly.
To find out what is causing water hammering in your pipes, and determine the best way to repair it, give the experienced team at Sumich Plumbing a call.
Get in touch for a no-obligation quote.