Ever turn off your faucet and jump at a loud banging noise? Your pipe system may be suffering from what is commonly known as “water hammer” or “resonance”. It isn’t uncommon for pipes to make a loud bang after a faucet is shut off too quickly. The technical name for this phenomenon is hydraulic shock, and though it can be annoying, you’ll be happy to learn that there is an easy fix for it!
The loud noise you hear is caused when the water in your plumbing system changes direction or stops suddenly. When this happens, a large shockwave can cause pipes to move and bang into each other, or against the wooden framing in your home. Not only is this an annoying problem to deal with – it can also damage your pipes, the shockwave being so forceful that it can break or loosen pipes and plumbing joints.
Although you can’t hear it as loudly, water hammer can also affect plastic pipes and can cause a lot of damage. Do not leave this issue unaddressed, as a burst or damaged pipe can wreak havoc on your home – ultimately, it is cheaper to repair water hammer than to have to deal with a burst pipe.
Even a relatively small shockwave can create an annoyingly loud noise if your pipes aren’t secured well. In mild cases (where potential for pipe damage is very low), all that is needed to fix this problem is simply ensuring that all pipes are tightly secured to their joists. Bear in mind this only works for mild cases – when water hammer is more severe, then one of the methods below may need to be used.
An air chamber is a simple but effective method of keeping water hammer under control. They are essentially an extra piece of pipe, with one end open and the other sealed, creating an empty chamber that cushions the forceful impact of the water when it undergoes a sudden change in direction. The air compresses, temporarily absorbing the shockwave that would otherwise cause the pipes to make a loud bang. It is good practice to have multiple chambers installed at key points within your plumbing system to maximize its effect.
The predominant issue with air chambers is that they can become clogged with water and lose their effectiveness over time. This is fixable but can be quite a time-consuming process as the entire plumbing system has to be periodically drained in order to ‘recharge’ these chambers and refill them with air.
This is the most efficient and by far the best long-term solution for hydraulic shock. Mechanical water hammer arrestors are a much more advanced piece of technology and can work well in various situations where an air chamber would be impractical. These arrestors mitigate the forceful effects of water hammer by absorbing the force exerted by the moving water with the help of a spring and air bladder, acting as an artificial diaphragm.
One of the main advantages to a water hammer arrestor is that unlike an air chamber, this mechanical system does not need to be recharged. They can be installed by a compression or screw-on fitting and can be fixed onto faucets and valves. The only drawback is that they will need to be replaced after a while when the spring and bladder have worn out and are no longer effective.
Sometimes the cause of water hammer is high water pressure. Typically, pressure runs at between 30-50 psi. Anything higher than this can create a shockwave and even damage certain appliances. A regulator can easily solve this problem and allow for smooth and low-risk water flow.
Say goodbye to those loud bangs in your kitchen and bathroom today! For any questions regarding water hammer, feel free to contact our professional and highly qualified team for all your plumbing solutions and fast installations. With our help, we can implement the best solution for your home to ensure it will be safe, dry and noise free!
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