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That strange sound of clanging pipes you hear when the tap isn’t on could be a sign of a serious plumbing issue. Although commonly called “water hammer”, this phenomenon is known as a hydraulic shock in more technical terms. It’s not simply a harmless sound that you should just try to ignore as best as you can. Water hammer can have disastrous consequences when it comes to the health of your plumbing system. If you want to avoid costly repairs in the future, it’s best to figure out what’s causing water hammer and the proper methods for fixing it.
1. Causes of Water Hammer
One of the main causes of water hammer is the improper fixing of your pipes. Even the smallest shockwaves will feel very intensely when the pipes aren’t correctly secured to the surface. Finding loose pipes can be challenging because the network can extend through many areas in the home. Start by exploring the most common areas where pipes become loose such as the cellar. Don’t forget to consider concealed piping under the floor.
Clogged air chambers
Sudden water hammer issues are usually caused by clogged air chambers. These chambers are important for the correct functionality of your water system because they absorb the pressure. Mineral residue can accumulate and form blockages. Powerful banging sounds can appear as a result.
New kitchen appliances
Have you installed a new appliance in the kitchen recently? Dishwashers or washing machines control the water supply using solenoid valves. These might cause water hammer so it’s important to inspect their proper functionality if you’re dealing with loud bangs after the installation of new kitchen appliances.
Water ripples from the tank
If you have a water tank, you might experience strong shocks when lots of water ripples are made by the float valve. The loud sound in your pipes is created by this constant water flow movement. It’s often more of a problem if you have plastic water tanks but you can reinforce the stability using a metal plate.
Worn stop valves
When becoming worn, the stop valves create the unpleasant water hammer effect. They remain open during the intense pipework shockwave which can cause additional problems for the valve handle and other components.
2. Methods for Fixing Water Hammer
Drain the plumbing system
If you suspect that the air chambers in the water system are clogged, the best solution is to drain the entire plumbing system. This can reduce the water hammer effect considerably because the air chamber prevents that loud slamming noise. The process requires you to turn off the main water valve and use the lowest faucet for draining the water. Homeowners without air chambers in their piping should consider installing one to deal with water hammer.
Make adjustments to the water pressure reduction valve
Regulating the water pressure in the plumbing system can be an effective solution to prevent damage created by water hammer. You can find a dedicated pressure-reducing valve close to where the main water supply enters the home. It’s typically easy to adjust this valve by hand but sometimes extra tools are required such as a wrench. Keep the water pressure below 50 PSI to reduce water hammer and make some energy savings as well.
Secure loose water-supply lines
Special fastening straps are used to ensure that pipes remain firmly attached to a support frame during the installation. However, these straps can start to fail after some time and cause destabilization to the entire water system resulting in water hammer. Find the loose water-supply lines and tighten their straps to fix the problem. Install additional fastening straps as needed to reduce loud bangs even further. Use padded pipe straps for the best vibration-reduction effect.
Install water arrestors
Water arrestors can be considered a good alternative for air chambers in a plumbing system. Their cylinders filled with air will manage the intense pressure causing the water hammer effect. The best part is that water arrestors are not particularly difficult to install by DIYers. Just make sure you install two of them to handle both cold and hot pipelines. Try using this high-quality water arrestor.
Insulate the pipes
By cushioning the pipes with insulating foam, you can take advantage of a stabilizing effect for loose pipes causing water hammer. Pipe insulation is typically used to prevent freezing but these foam tubes can be very handy for reducing water hammer as well. The insulation tubes need to be properly fitted over the water supply lines.
Change the solenoid valve
Homeowners that are only affected by water hammer when using the dishwasher or washing machine should consider investigating the solenoid valve. This component is usually responsible for the loud shockwave effect when its response time is simply too fast and stops the water abruptly. Switching the solenoid valve to a unit that has a slower response time represents a good fix in this case.