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Husted Plumbing Blog

Water Hammer—What It Means for Your Plumbing

woman-covering-earsIf you find yourself alone in the house at night, when everything is quiet and tranquil, a sudden metallic clang! from the walls is startling. But it’s not ghosts or intruders you’re hearing. It’s something inside your plumbing called water hammer.

True, the name water hammer can sound intimidating all on its own. It’s a common occurrence in plumbing and it can create trouble. However, it’s also something you can fix with the help of an Oxnard, CA plumber. We’ll look into water hammer a bit closer so you know what it is, what it can do, and what can be done about it.

The Cause of Water Hammer

What you’re hearing when that clang comes echoing from the pipes is a shockwave caused by the sudden stopping and reversal of the flow of water inside the pipes. The shockwave creates a vibration in the pipe, and this is why it makes a sound similar to a hammer striking the pipe exterior.

Each time a valve or faucet turns off in the house, it causes the water to make an abrupt stop. So why don’t you hear water hammer every time you shut off the showerhead or the kitchen sink faucet? Because the plumbing is designed with water cushions. These water chambers in the pipes absorb the shock so there’s no water hammer. But several problems can cause water hammer to occur:

  • Water-logged air chambers, eliminating a cushion against the shockwave.
  • High water pressure. If your house is dealing with increased water pressure from the municipal system, the air cushions may not be enough.
  • Loose pipes. Even a mild shockwave in pipes that are loose can create the sound of water hammer.

Here’s Why You Don’t Want Water Hammer

Aside from the way it will play around with your nerves, water hammer creates other problems. If the pipes aren’t loose already, the shockwaves of water hammer may knock them loose and cause other damage. The impact of the shockwaves inside the pipes can also cause damage to fixtures. You may end up with older pipes bursting or breaking apart at connection points. If water hammer is warning you of high water pressure, there are many other issues the water pressure will cause throughout the plumbing.

Stopping Water Hammer

What can be done about water hammer? It depends on why it started to happen in the first place. A professional plumber can determine why the problem is affecting the pipes and then come up with an appropriate action to take. Some examples:

  • Refilling the air chambers: If a loss of air cushions is the problem, a plumber can restore these in the right places.
  • Securing/replacing loose pipes: The water hammer may indicate repair areas you need to pay attention to in the plumbing, particularly for old pipe materials. A plumber can secure the loose pipes and repair or replace the damaged ones.
  • Water pressure regulator: If high water pressure is affecting your house, a plumber can solve this by installing a pressure regulator onto the main water line. This not only stops water hammer, it reduces many other plumbing troubles.

Get in touch with our plumbers to solve water hammer in your house.

Husted Plumbing has been family-owned and operated since 1935. Call for service in the Greater Santa Barbara and Ventura County Area.

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