If you hear a weird noise, similar to a thump, coming from one of the rooms in your house, then two things are possible.
Either you’re stuck in a horror movie, or you have an issue with water hammer.
It is far more likely to be the latter issue, and while this provides a rational explanation for the noise, it still requires some quick action and attention to solve the problem.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about fixing water hammer issues in your house pipes.
So, if this is something of interest to you, then read on for more!
What Is Water Hammer?
Water hammer issues are an emergency that you need to solve quickly. If you turn off your faucet very quickly, or if any of your appliances, like your dishwasher, washer, or any other appliance abruptly does a water intake, then your plumbing system’s water pipes may bang (see also ‘What Causes Banging Pipes When Water Is Not Running?‘) loudly.
If this happens, then a lot of pressure has been created in the pipes, and if this pressure gets too high then this can cause serious damage to your water pipes.
However, there is a way to fix this problem without the need to call for help from professionals!
Here are four different ways you can fix your pipes without the need for a plumber.
The First Step: Locating The Source Of Water Hammer
The first thing you need to do before anything else is to find the source of water hammer.
The best way to do this is to first measure the length and size of the water pipes. This should help you to work out where the air pressure deadlock is.
You can also locate the water hammering by listening out for the thumping sound.
If you follow the noise, then you will be led to the nearest pipe, which is where you need to be.
It is also good to remember that the source of water hammer is usually located in the crawl space of your home, or your basement.
After you have located the source of the water hammer, you need to get to work on fixing it. Follow the steps below for more.
How Can I Fix Water Hammer Issues In My Home?
Here are some steps you can take to fix water hammer issues!
Air Chamber Installation
One of the things you can fix water hammer issues is by installing an air chamber inside.
This is a short segment of a vertical pipe that you can install near the valves.
When you install an air chamber, it will create an air-filled pipe effect and will be helpful the next time the water suddenly changes direction.
Now, you may feel like you need a plumber for this next part. However, a plumber is not necessary.
You will be able to buy commercial air chambers that will have exactly the same effect as whatever a plumber would use.
Alternatively, you can use capped pipes, which will save money and produce similar results.
So, the next time you quickly turn off your faucet (or any other water valve) the air chamber will temporarily compress, and absorb the shock.
This stops the pressure in the pipes, which in turn stops the pipes from banging, and stops any potential damage to the water pipes.
But where is the best place to install the air chamber?
Well, most people would consider the best place to be near the bathtub, the best place to install them is actually near the source of the water hammer – the most critical spot – in your household.
The only issue you may face with air chambers is that they stop working when they are completely filled with water.
Luckily, all you need to do here is drain them and they will be restored.
Here’s how to do it:
- The first thing you need to do is find the main water valve in your home and turn it off.
- Then, you need to find the highest water faucet and open it.
- Next, you need to find the lowest faucet and open it. You should usually find this in your front yard or basement.
- With the lowest faucet, you need to drain the water to make room for the air.
- This air will travel to the highest faucet and the air chambers.
- When the water stops flowing, you need to turn the faucet off.
- Leave the highest faucet open.
- Now, you will need to open the main valve once again. Here, the water will rise and fill the pipes, but the air chamber will maintain its air.
- Once you have completed the step above, then the whole process should be finished.
However, you need to be on the lookout for debris, such as minerals, clogging the air chamber.
Luckily, this is easily fixed. All you need to do is scour the debris out after you remove the caps.
To prevent the air chambers from clogging up again, you should invest in larger ones (in diameter.)
Secure Any Pipes That Are Loose
Another thing you can do to prevent damage like water hammer is to secure any loose pipes that you can find.
Even the mildest of shock waves can cause the pipes to bang loudly. So, by making the adjustments to the pipes early on, you are preventing them from becoming too damaged.
You can also try using wrapping foam pipe insulation around the pipes.
However, it is important to note that you will not be able to do this in all areas of your house.
It is a good idea to use foam pipe insulation in the basement because the pipes here are exposed.
You can also use foam pipe insulation on pipes that run through framing member bored holes.
You also have the option of installing pipe sleeves, which will act as a buffer.
Additionally, if you notice any loose stripes or hangers, then you should tighten them, too.
It is important to complete this method in the early phases of pipe damage. Any severe damage to the pipes will require a different solution.
It is also important to note that you should not use any metal that is too dissimilar from the original metal of the pipes, and this includes galvanized metal.
This is because different metals may result in electrolysis, which causes metal to corrode.
So, it is best to use metal straps and pipe hangers. If you have pipes made from copper, then you will need to use copper or plastic to secure them.
Install A Regulator For Water Pressure
So, if you tried the two methods above to no avail, here is another thing you can do to fix your water hammer.
First, you will need to work out when the water pressure becomes too high.
Generally, the water pressure should sit between 30-35 pounds per square inch.
Anything above that is high water pressure. Any water pressure that sits above 100 pounds per square inch will severely damage the appliances in your home.
To solve this problem, you will need to install a regulator for water pressure.
The best place to install it is near the main water supply in your household – where the water will enter your home.
This will protect many fixtures in your home from high water pressure, including toilets and all water-based appliances.
Install Mechanical Water Shock Arrestors
If all of the above steps fail, then there is one more method you can try. It may be helpful to install a mechanical water shock arrestor(s).
This is a useful tip to try because air chambers are not always practical and these are an excellent alternative. This is particularly true of commercial buildings.
Water arrestors contain a spring and an air bladder. Their purpose is to absorb the water movement to alleviate the water pipes.
Unlike air chambers, mechanical water shock arrestors do not need to be reloaded. But, also unlike air chambers, they cannot simply be cleaned and placed back.
Once their bladder wears out, then they will need to be totally replaced.
If you want to try this method of solving your water hammer issues, then you should know that these mechanical water shock arrestors have screw-on fittings or compression, so they will be very easy to install.
Additionally, water investors can also be integrated into utility sink faucets or washing machine valves.
And, if you are able to find the exact place in the pipes where the noise is coming from, then you will be able to install the mechanical water shock arrestor on the closest hot water pipe to the critical area.
And, if this does not yield the results that you want, then you can try installing one more of the arrestors near the pipe that comes out directly off the boiler.
One final thing to note about mechanical water shock arrestors is that they need to be able to cope with high water pressure, and are compatible with hot water.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Prevent Water Hammer From Happening?
Water hammer is an unfortunate reality for most households. But, there are things you can do to try and reduce the risk of it appearing. Let’s check them out below!
- Use slow-closure faucets
- Use an auto pump valve
- Reduce the fluid velocity of the pipe
- Add elbows or expansion loops in order to reduce the length of the pipe
- If you are fitting a pressure regulator, then you can try to reduce the water supply
- Make use of start-up and shut-down procedures.
What Will Happen If You Do Not Deal With Water Hammer?
If you do not try and fix your water hammer issues, then you risk seriously damaging your pipes.
Not only that,t but you can actually damage the pipe joint gaskets and other components of the system.
Water hammer can cause extreme stress to your pipeline, and eventually cause substantial damage to your whole plumbing system.
For this reason, we recommend fixing water hammer damage as soon as possible.
How Long Will My Water Hammer Arrestor Last?
Water hammer arrestors typically last for about three years. After three years, it is likely that they will need to be replaced.
The best thing you can do is read the instructions that come with your water hammer arrestor because this longevity will change depending on the model.
Additionally, it is advised that you contact your plumber as soon as you believe your water hammer arrestor needs replacing.
Water hammer is the name for the odd thumping noise you can hear in various rooms in your house that comes from the water pipes.
It happens when water-based appliances take in a large amount of water, or you turn off your faucets suddenly.
Unfortunately, water hammer happens in the majority of households, and it is important to know how to deal with it and deal with it early on to prevent further damage from happening.
Luckily, there are a few great ways you can solve your water hammer issue.
Once you have located the source of the water hammer, then you can try installing an air chamber, securing any loose pipes that you can find, or placing foam pipe insulation around them.
You can also try installing a water pressure regulator or a mechanical water shock arrestor.
If none of this works, then it is best to call a plumber to try and solve the issue.
We hope this article told you everything you need to know about fixing water hammer in house pipes.