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Is the House Haunted, Or Is It Just Water Hammer?

woman lying with pillow on her head

How To Get Rid of Those Scary Banging Sounds In the Walls

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s easy for the mind to conjure images of ghosts, creepy creatures, or axe-wielding villains whenever something bumps in the night. But if homeowners hear banging or knocking sounds from inside the walls or under the floors, it’s probably not some ghoulish entity but only noisy pipes caused by water hammers.

That’s not to say that water hammer isn’t scary. Aside from providing quite a fright, water hammers can also seriously damage the plumbing system. But armed with the right information, homeowners can fight back against water hammer and restore peace to the house! This article will answer a few common questions about water hammer, its dangers, and how to fix it!

What Is Water Hammer – And What Causes It?

A water hammer is essentially a shockwave or sudden pressure surge inside a water pipe that produces a loud bang or knocking sound (hence the “hammer” part of the name). The more technical term for this phenomenon is “hydraulic shock.” The hammering sound can come from the shockwave vibrating the pipe itself or knocking against a surrounding surface – or both at once.

A water hammer typically occurs when the flow of water is suddenly stopped or reversed due to a rapidly closing valve or a pump or other water source being shut off. In plumbing jargon, this change in flow is known as transient flow. 

In residential settings, water hammer is often caused by automatic fill valves on washing machines, dishwashers, or toilets rapidly closing. Since water cannot be compressed (which would help absorb the water’s momentum), the kinetic energy of the water slamming into the closed valve reverberates back through the pipe, resulting in that loud hammering noise.

Is Water Hammer Dangerous?

pipe burst

Having noisy water pipes is more than just annoying (and sometimes frightening) – it can also destroy the plumbing system. A few possible dangers of water hammers include the following:

  • Damaged valves and appliances – As water slams into closing valves repeatedly, the pressure surge and shockwave can wear down the valve, eventually breaking it or rendering it inoperable. This can be a costly repair job when it comes to valves inside appliances like washing machines.
  • Leaky or ruptured pipes – Over time, the vibration and sudden pressure spikes can also cause pipe fittings, joints, and connections to get loose, resulting in leaks. If the pipes are older or weakened by corrosion, water hammer can even cause them to burst.
  • Water damage - If the pipes leak or rupture, it can lead to water damage, mold growth, and flooding in the home. Depending on the extent of the damage, the repair and remediation process can be lengthy and expensive.

Considering these risks, it’s easy to see why homeowners should deal with water hammers as soon as possible!

What Can Be Done To Fix Water Hammer?

fixing a pipe

Fixing the water hammer starts with identifying the source of the problem. This may be a faulty valve in an appliance or fixture, so if homeowners only notice banging water pipes when they use a particular faucet or appliance, there’s a good chance they have found the culprit. However, water hammer is often the result of excessively high water pressure in the home – this is why plumbers often start their diagnosis by checking the home’s water pressure and adjusting the main pressure regulator as necessary.

Even if the home’s water pressure is within a normal range, plumbers will check to see if the home’s air chambers are working properly. Air chambers are short vertical sections of pipe filled with air that give water a place to go in the event of a pressure surge. If they have become filled with water, they will no longer be able to provide a buffer and will need to be drained.

In addition, water hammer arrestors can be installed at any valves that may pose a problem. A water hammer arrestor is a small device, much like an air chamber, that helps absorb the impact of a hydraulic shock, protecting the valve and pipes from damage. Finally, ensuring all of the home’s water pipes are securely fastened with brackets or straps is a good idea to help minimize vibration. These fixes may seem simple enough, but to avoid damaging the plumbing system and ensure everything is up to code, homeowners should always hire a reputable plumber to diagnose and fix the water hammer!

About C & D Plumbing Inc.

C & D Plumbing Inc. has been one of Fort Lauderdale’s most highly-rated plumbers for over a decade. As a family-owned and operated business with an A+ BBB rating, they are committed to the safety and satisfaction of every customer. They offer competitive up-front pricing, convenient appointment windows, tailor-made solutions to fit any budget, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee on every job – so there’s no one better to call for water hammer repair in Fort Lauderdale, FL!