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Water Hammer – Common Causes & How to Fix It

Water Hammer - Common Causes & How to Fix It

If you’ve ever heard a loud banging coming from noisy pipes after turning off a faucet or an appliance, you’ve experienced water hammer. This unsettling phenomenon is more than just an annoyance; it can be a sign of underlying plumbing issues that need to be addressed. Our emergency plumbers here at The Local Plumber Melbourne are here to guide you through understanding water hammer, its common causes, and practical steps to fix the problem.

What Is Water Hammer?

Water hammer, also known as hydraulic shock, is a pressure surge that occurs when the flow of water is suddenly forced to stop or change direction. This abrupt stoppage creates a shockwave that travels through the pipes, producing a loud banging sound that echoes throughout the plumbing system. The effect is similar to a car crashing into a wall; the forward momentum of the water suddenly halts, causing it to slam into the pipe walls.

What Are The Common Causes of Water Hammer Within Melbourne?

Based on our professional daily experiences, water hammer can occur for various reasons, often specific to the plumbing setup in your home or building. For example, it is a lot more common in older types of buildings, however here are some of the most common causes:

1. Sudden Valve Closure

Valves that are closed too quickly can result in a sudden stop of water flow. Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers are frequent culprits, as their automatic valves close instantly after filling.

2. High Water Pressure

When the water pressure in your hot water system is too high, the flow of water can easily lead to pressure spikes when stopped. The excessive pressure causes water hammer by amplifying the force of the shockwave.

3. Loose Pipes

If the pipes in your plumbing system are not securely anchored, the sudden jolt caused by water hammer can make the pipes bang against walls and other fixtures, intensifying the noise and potential damage.

4. Inadequate Air Chambers

Air chambers are vertical pipes installed near the water valves that act as cushions, absorbing shockwaves created when water is turned off. Over time, these air chambers can fill with water or become ineffective, failing to provide proper shock absorption.

5. Long or Complicated Plumbing Layouts

Plumbing systems with long pipe runs or complex layouts are more susceptible to water hammer due to the increased distance the water travels before hitting an obstruction or valve.

What Are The Effects of Water Hammer?

While the loud noise can be disturbing, the more severe issue lies in the damage that water hammer can cause over time. Potential effects include:

  • Pipe Damage: Repeated water hammer incidents can weaken pipe joints, leading to leaks or bursts.
  • Appliance Malfunction: Appliances connected to the plumbing system may be damaged due to the constant shockwave pressure.
  • Structural Damage: Loose or inadequately secured pipes can cause vibrations that damage surrounding structures, like walls or ceilings.

How Do I Fix Water Hammer?

Fixing water hammer requires identifying the cause and implementing the appropriate solution. Here are some practical ways to address this issue:

1. Install Water Hammer Arrestors

Water hammer arrestors are specialized devices that act as shock absorbers, cushioning the sudden stoppage of water flow. They contain air-filled chambers that compress under pressure, absorbing the shockwave and preventing the loud banging noise.

  • Installation: Water hammer arrestors should be installed close to the valve or fixture where the water hammer occurs, such as washing machines, dishwashers, or faucets.

2. Adjust Water Pressure

High water pressure is a significant contributor to water hammering. Installing a pressure reducing valve (PRV) can help maintain safe and consistent water pressure throughout your plumbing system.

  • Installation: PRVs should be installed at the main water supply to regulate the pressure before it reaches the rest of the house.

3. Secure Loose Pipes

Loose pipes can intensify the sound and impact of water hammer. Properly securing your pipes using clamps or straps or relining pipes can help minimize movement and reduce noise.

  • Inspection: Identify any loose pipes by visually inspecting your plumbing system and listen for noises while water is flowing.

4. Drain and Refill Air Chambers

Air chambers are essential for absorbing shockwaves and preventing water hammer, but they can lose their effectiveness over time. Draining your plumbing system can reset the air chambers and restore their functionality.

*Please note: We highly recommend that you seek the assistance of a professional plumber before attempting the below.

  • Procedure:
    • Turn off the main water supply.
    • Open all faucets and fixtures to drain water from the system.
    • Once fully drained, close all faucets and turn the main supply back on.

5. Slow-Closing Valves

Replacing standard valves with slow-closing valves can reduce the occurrence of water hammer by gradually stopping the flow of water.

  • Installation: Slow-closing valves should be installed on appliances that abruptly stop water flow, like dishwashers and washing machines.

Preventing Water Hammer

Preventative measures are key to ensuring your plumbing system remains free of water hammer and other pressure-related issues:

  • Regular Maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance of your plumbing system can help detect potential issues early on.
  • Professional Installation: Ensure all new installations are done by a licensed plumber to prevent future problems.
  • Educate Household Members: Teach everyone in the household to open and close faucets gradually to prevent sudden changes in water flow.

Local Water Hammer Plumbers Melbourne

While some water hammer issues can be resolved with simple DIY solutions, others may require professional assistance. The Local Plumber Melbourne has the expertise and equipment needed to diagnose and fix water hammer problems effectively. Whether you need an inspection, installation, or comprehensive repair, our team is here to ensure your plumbing system is quiet, secure, and efficient.

Water hammer can be an unsettling issue that might indicate underlying plumbing problems. By understanding the common causes and how to fix them, you can protect your pipes, appliances, and home from potential damage. For persistent or complex water hammer issues, calling in professional plumbers like The Local Plumber Melbourne can provide long-term, effective solutions that will restore peace and quiet to your home.

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