What is water hammer and how can it be stopped?

by Brain Lemair

’ is a very specific plumbing noise, it’s a pressure surge or shock wave that is created when moving through a pipe is force to either stop or change direction suddenly. For example, a ninety-degree pipe bend or union would cause this. hammer often occurs when a dishwasher, washing machine, toilet, or faucet shuts off flow suddenly. This produces a loud bang or banging sound. The shock waves of the bang(ing) travel faster than the speed of sound and can create a great deal of pressures. Over time, hammer effect can damage pipes, valves and even weaken .

Over time, these impacts can create pressure which can weaken and damage pipes, valves, and pipe joints. In more modern homes, the solution has been to install , devices filled with air, which act as cushions. But over time, these devices can fail. Over time, the air in the chamber is absorbed by the water, which then takes its place.

The damage causes can lead to a pipe breaking or bursting, which can lead to or even injury. A professional evaluation is recommended, both to determine the extent of the problem and to get an estimate of what repairs or replacement will cost.

An that’s under the level of the valve or faucet may present more work. The home’s main may need to be drained so that the chamber(s) can fill with air. An that won’t drain properly may be clogged with scale, tuberculation, or minerals and chemicals in the water. Sometimes it’s not possible to clean out the chamber(s), and replacement is left as the likely option.

If the air chamber is lower than the height of the valve, more work may be needed. The main water supply lines might need to be drained too. Sometimes air chambers won’t drain completely; it may be because of build-up of mineral or chemical deposits. If the chamber can’t be cleaned out it will need to be replaced.

Installing air chambers in a home that doesn’t have them can be a great solution, many currently manufactured units even have built-in valves that let air refill. Reducing the overall in a home is another option if no air chambers exist. Pressure-reducing valves can be fitted into the water supply lines. But this could lead to the being too low for upper-level bathtubs, showers, toilets, and faucets.

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