Have you ever turned off the water pipes and heard a sudden loud clanging or banging sound? You must have been surprised. It isn’t uncommon to hear or experience rattling or banging sounds from within the pipes, especially after you suddenly turn the tap off. While this is prevalent, few homeowners know what it is and whether it can affect their plumbing system. If you have experienced water hammering and want to learn all about this effect, you are in the right place.
What Is a Water Hammer?
A water hammer is also called a hydraulic shock in technical plumbing terms. It is a wave or pressure surge that arises when a fluid (typically a liquid though sometimes also gas) that is in motion is suddenly forced to change direction or stop (experiences a change in momentum). That loud banging sound is a shockwave that makes the pipes move and strike against the adjacent frames.
The banging sound usually worsens if the pipes aren’t sufficiently supported. The water hammer also might worsen if the valves in your home’s plumbing system begin wearing out. The noise produced is irritating and frustrating. However, that isn’t the main issue. A water hammer is a surefire sign that damage may occur in your plumbing pipes.
Therefore, you should enlist a plumber to inspect the plumbing system should you hear of any water hammer before permanent and costly damage arises. In this article, you will learn to diagnose the causes of water hammers and also what a plumber will do when they come to resolve the problem. The bottom line, contact a professional if you notice a clanging or banging sound whenever you turn off the faucet.
Causes of Water Hammer
As explained above, a water hammer arises when the water or gas momentum suddenly changes. But what might cause this? Some homeowners have experienced water hammers or those loud banging sounds, especially when they turn the sprinkler or taps off quickly and suddenly.
The sound, in most cases, is caused by the pressure at the mains that is at high pressure. The water or gas knocks the valves and changes the directional flow, resulting in those sounds. The most common causes of water hammer include:
A Plumbing System Having Loose Pipes
Are the water pipes in your Universal City, TX, home correctly secured? Even the smallest shockwave might result in loud bangs if they aren’t. Therefore, you should have a plumber securely
fasten the pipes in your plumbing system on a sturdy surface every several meters. Additionally, you should know that most plumbing pipes are hidden and run under the woodwork or floors. Hence, you must ensure that all the loose straps, joints, and bolts are tightened. The most common areas where loose pipes might be buried in a cellar or in your airing cupboard. The water supply pipes at your home might also become loose because of the water hammer.
Appliances Having Solenoid Valves
Have you just installed new kitchen appliances? Did the loud banging sound start after installing a new dishwasher or a laundry machine? Then the most likely culprit is the solenoid valves. The solenoid valves control the water supply into the dishwashing and the laundry machine. The solenoid valves usually are electrically operated and instantly stop the water flow into the appliance. Whenever this happens, the water reflects or changes the flow direction within the pipes, creating a shock wave that causes a loud banging sound. An experienced plumber knows how to deal with solenoid valve issues to ensure that your home doesn’t experience a water hammer.
When the Stop Valves Are Worn Out
If the stop valves are damaged and worn out, they also might cause the hammering. The stop valves can cause water hammers should they have loose gland packing or even worn washers. The stop valves will be open whenever the water hammer shock waves travel through the water pipes. This shockwave may well rattle the stop valve handle and any loose jumper, resulting in loud clanging or banging sound. This is an issue that a plumber will most likely diagnose during routine plumbing inspections and maintenance.
When the Air Chambers Are Clogged
Have you suddenly and out of the blue heard the banging sounds in your Universal City, TX, water pipes? If you have never heard a water hammer, and one day, you suddenly experience it from nowhere, then the air chambers of your water system most likely have developed a clog. The air chambers are usually blocked by the residue from the minerals dissolved in water, such as calcium and magnesium. If you live in an area that gets hard water, you are more prone to this problem.
When the air chambers are blocked, they won’t be able to absorb the pressure in the plumbing system. As a result, you might occasionally hear a loud bang. It is prudent to have a plumber inspect the plumbing system whenever this happens.
Water Ripples from Within a Tank
The other common cause of water hammer in pipes is the water ripples created by the flat valve within your water tank. The float valve starts rocking whenever the water flows into the tank, constantly opening and shutting the valve. As a result, a wave system that echoes along the pipework develops within the tank, causing that hammering sound. If you have a plastic water tank, it might flex significantly. Hence, you should have a plumber install a metal reinforcing plate to prevent them from moving.
The other common reason for the occurrence of water hammers also can be the fast-acting valves installed on various appliances like dishwashing and laundry machines. As their name suggests, the valves suddenly stop the water flowing along and within the pipes. This results in shockwaves, making the pipes shudder and causing the water to hammer. If the fast-acting valves are worn, the problem worsens and should be inspected by an experienced plumber.
What Are the Effects of Water Hammer?
Although the loud banging sounds might appear harmless, the impact of that force on the valves – caused by a change in the water momentum or directional flow, might create pressure spikes that could be ten times more than the normal working pressure on your plumbing system. The sudden stoppage in the flow and the increase in the pressure from the shockwaves might cause sizable damage to your plumbing system. This might be either because of a single event or cumulative damage over time. You shouldn’t ignore the water hammer as it might ultimately result in severe failure in your plumbing system and the following effects:
Leaks in Your Plumbing System
Water hammer might damage the joints, connections, and fittings, resulting in leakages. The leakages often start slowly and increase gradually in intensity as time passes. The minor leaks might go unnoticed over time, leaving the surrounding appliance, equipment, and structures susceptible to damage. However, they can be caught by a plumber during a plumbing inspection and maintenance visit.
Damage to Flow System and Pump
Repeated water hammers also may cause considerable damage to the water pumps, instruments, and any existing valves. They also might result in catastrophic failure of any gasketed and expansion joints and impact the integrity of the welded joints and pipe walls. Hence, you should have them fixed by a plumber in Universal City, TX, promptly.
Bursting of Pipes
Any burst pipes caused by spikes in the water pressure are costly to repair. The rapturing results in failure of the plumbing system and local pipelines and might cause the entire piping system or equipment to fail. The ensuing damage could prove extensive, in most cases prompting the plumber to perform major replacement operations.
External Property Damage
Suppose the water leaks caused by water hammers are left unchecked. In that case, they can damage the electrical equipment, corrode the infrastructure or appliances, or even damage the structural integrity of your home.
Property damage can result in severe and expensive repairs or even the replacement of some equipment. You might also incur more financial losses because of the downtime necessary for further maintenance, installations, and repairs by a professional plumber.
The rupturing of pipes resulting from the water hammer also might endanger the health and safety of your family members, employees, and maintenance crew. Based on the specific facility and industry, unmanaged risks may increase the danger of electrocution, slips, and falls.
Failure to take action might ultimately result in system-wide damage extending beyond the plumbing system to the home/facility infrastructure and other equipment. Hence, contact a plumber near you whenever you see initial signs of a water hammer in your Universal City, TX, home.
How Can a Water Hammer Be Resolved?
Besides being irritating, a water hammer can also damage various plumbing system components. Therefore, it is critical to have a plumber in Universal City, TX, address the problem immediately after it arises. That worn stop valve or loose pipe might cost you a fortune. Below are several ways of addressing water hammer Issues:
Installing an Air Chamber
You can purchase and install an air chamber near the valve having a problem resolving the water hammer. However, this involves enlisting the help of an experienced plumber to fabricate and install a vertical pipe near every valve that has a problem. Whenever the water valves are suddenly shut off, the vertical pipes will act like the air chamber, absorbing any air and preventing a banging sound. However, the main issue with this technique is that your pipes might fill with water, preventing the chamber from effectively working.
Securing All Loose Piping
You can stop unsecured pipes from translating gentle shock waves to loud bangs by tightening joints or studs or securing existing pipe straps. Remember, when securing pipes, never mix different metals. It is improper to secure copper-made pipes with a steel strap or vice versa. Metal corrosion is a result of chemical reactions between various metals. You will probably need an experienced plumber to
help you uncover the problem if the problematic pipes are hidden.
Installing Pressure Regulating Devices
High water pressure is a frequent reason for water hammering. Your problem is probably caused by your pressure, which is close to 100 psi. 30 to 55 psi is considered normal pressure. Consider hiring a plumber to install a water pressure regulating device to address this issue. A pressure regulator, installed next to the main water line, monitors the flowing water and regulates the pressure at which it enters your Universal City, TX, home. While expensive, water pressure regulators are necessary to safeguard pricey water-dependent appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and toilets.
Wrapping the Pipework in Foam Insulation
The other solution is to have a plumber wrap the pipes using foam insulation. The foam will help prevent banging as it can absorb the shock waves. This may also prevent the pipes from freezing during winter. Leave space for expansion around the piping.
Fix the Dishwashing and Laundry Machines
If the pounding only happens when using the dishwasher or washing machine, the solenoid valve is probably the reason for the problem. Your machine’s solenoid valve, which is used to turn off the water supply, is an electrical component. The fluid inside the solenoid valve is stopped abruptly if the solenoid valve responds too quickly. In this instance, the fluid acts as a mirror, reflecting like a wave and sending shock waves back up the pipe, which you can hear as a bang. Selecting a valve type with a slower response time is the simplest alternative.
From the preceding, it can be noted that a water hammer is harmful. Hence, whenever you notice it, you should have a plumber come over and fix the issue. Have you experienced the phenomena in your Universal City, TX, home’s plumbing system? Contact us at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain + HVAC of San Antonio.