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Water hammer: why your pipes are banging and shaking

We’ve all heard it – the banging, clanging and hammering sound our pipes sometimes (or always) make when we turn a tap off.

Water hammer, aka ‘hydraulic shock’ refers to that sound a plumbing system makes when a tap is turned off abruptly. It can also occur when an appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine shuts off its water intake, too.

Want to know more about water hammer and why it makes your pipes bang and shake?

Read more from Fremantle Plumbing to find out what you can do about it.

Further defining water hammer

Whenever water flow is suddenly stopped in your pipes, or there’s a quick change in water direction coupled with water pressure increase, this leads to shock waves pulsing through your pipe systems.

The banging or hammering sound you hear is the result of the pipes hitting the walls, framing or even other pipes due to these shock waves.

There’s no denying water hammer is irritating to most, but unfortunately, it can also be a sign of serious problems into the future.

Diagnosing the problem

It’s important not to misdiagnose water hammer as something else.

Good to know:

  • Air pockets within plumbing systems make a similar sound when a tap is turned ON.
  • Water hammer, as you now know, is the loud sound occurring when the tap is turned OFF.

Both of the above can be hard to solve, so it’s worth calling your local Fremantle Plumber to save you time and money in doing so.

What else can you do?

There are 4 tried and tested ways to deal with water hammer.

What are they?

Securing loose water pipes

While water hammer is unlikely to cause any serious damage to your water lines in the short term, it will generally worsen overtime. How? By weakening pipe connections and shut off valve. So, tighten any loose pipes within your plumbing system, including those connected to your home appliances. You can do this with plumber’s tape.

  • Checking the water pressure

If your water property’s water pressure is too high, this only exacerbates water hammer. Call your Fremantle Plumber to test the water pressure, we do so by screwing a gauge onto an exterior hose bib or behind your washing machine. If necessary, we’ll reduce your water pressure by installing a water pressure reducing valve at your water meter.

  • Installing an air chamber

By installing a short section of vertical pipe near the pipes or valve, you’re creating a dead-end pipe that sits outside where water flows, trapping air pockets. It provides a cushion for water to rebound into when changing directions, thus absorbing the shock.

  • Installing a water hammer arrestor

These handy little fixtures found at your local hardware store can eliminate or reduce water hammer and its ill-effects when attached to washing machines, dishwashers or shower heads.

If the presence of water hammer is annoying you and you’re worried about what it could lead to, contact an expert Fremantle Plumber today to resolve.

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