If you hear a loud thud when you cut off your
water, the problem could be more than just a noisy annoyance. A loud pounding
coming from your pipes, dishwasher, or washing machine when the water shuts off
could be causing major damage. Water hammer, the name given to the thud you
hear, can increase the wear and tear on your pipes.

What Is
Water Hammer?

When you open a faucet in your home to allow
water to run, water rushes to the source to get there as quickly as possible.
When you turn the faucet or shower off, the rushing water suddenly has nowhere
to go and slams into the closed valve. The hydraulic shock created by the water
hitting the valve is the noise you hear in your pipes. Over
time, the constant slamming of the water can cause fittings to loosen, damage
to appliances, or create cracks in pipes.

Hammer Damage

Depending on the age and quality installation
of your pipes, the sudden stop of the rushing water could cause your pipes to
vibrate. Pipes should be securely fastened to the joists, but if they’re not,
the water hammer jolt could cause the pipes to bang into your walls. The
constant hitting will not only create cracks in your pipes, but it could also
damage the integrity of the wall.

As the water pressure continue to hit again
the valve, pipe fittings can begin to loosen. The challenge in most cases is
that the pipes are within your walls or behind appliances, so you don’t notice
when the pipes become loose. What begins as a small leak can quickly turn into
a major plumbing problem if the pipe
disconnects or breaks.

How To Stop Water Hammer

There are a few options when it comes to
eliminating water hammer noise and potential damage. While most newer homes are
built with plumbing mechanics that help prevent water hammer, even those
methods can sometimes fail. Here are the four ways to repair water hammer in
your pipes:

1. Air

Homes built over the past several decades are
typically constructed with air chambers in the plumbing system. The small,
vertical pipe fits just behind the valve. The air chamber’s purpose is to hold
air to serve as the shock absorber when the water flow is suddenly turned off.

After years of use, however, air chambers can
fill with water, rendering them nearly useless against water pressure. If your
home’s plumbing is equipped with air chambers but water has collected inside,
you can typically remedy the problem yourself.

Turn off your home’s main water valve.

Open a faucet on each level of your home to
release the remaining water.

The chamber will eliminate the water and
refill with air. Turn the water valve back on.

It’s worth the investment to have air chambers
installed if your home wasn’t constructed with the preventative piece.

Tighten Loose Pipes

Prevent water hammer damage by tightening
loose pipe straps and securing the pipes to the joists or studs in your wall.
Adding foam insulation around the pipes can also help absorb some of the shock
from the water hammer jolt. Keep in mind this method will only work for minimal
water hammer. For properties with a severe issue, another solution will be

Water Shock Arrestors

The shock of water hammer can be absorbed by
arrestors. Water shock arrestors work well if air chambers aren’t a viable
solution. The arrestors are designed with an air pocket and spring that can
handle the impact of intense water pressure. This solution is often used in
commercial construction but will need to be replaced when the spring reaches
its lifespan.

Arrestors are typically easy to install and
can be used on washing machine valves or utility sink faucets. The screw-on
fittings make them an ideal solution for problem areas.

Water-Pressure Regulator

When the main water pipe feeding your home
distributes at a high water pressure, water hammer can occur. Gauge the water
pressure in your home. Normal levels run between 30 and 60 psi, but going above
this range could lead to loud pounding, pipe breaks, or damaged appliances.

Installing a water pressure regulator will
help alleviate the water hammer issue. It’s best to have the regulator
installed where the main water line enters your home. This device will help
extend the life of your pipes and appliances in addition to lowering your
monthly water bill. Once the regulator is in place, you can adjust it to a
water pressure level of 50 psi or below.

Water Hammer In Your Home

Understanding what causes water hammer in your
home can help you take the best step in correcting the issue and protecting
your plumbing system. High water pressure or old plumbing not built with air
chambers are the two most common issues that lead to the problem. If you’re
unsure of your home’s water pressure, purchasing a gauge is an inexpensive way
to make a determination. Screw the gauge into your kitchen faucet. Ensure that
all other faucets or water-use appliances are off. Turn the faucet on,
completely opening the valve. The gauge will measure the water pressure.
Remember that the normal range is 30 to 60 psi, with major damage possible at
100 psi.

If your home’s water pressure needs to be
lowered, call your local utility company. They will usually send someone out to
adjust the level for you. If that doesn’t solve the water hammer issue, have a
professional plumber install a pressure regulator to help control the impact.

Don’t ignore the clanging pipes or loud thud
when you turn off your water. The ongoing pressure against the pipe valves and
joints can cause major damage down the road. Test your water pressure and opt
for the water hammer solution that best fits your plumbing and your budget. If
you’re unsure how to stop water hammer in your pipes, call the Flotechs team for
reliable, fast service that will restore and protect your plumbing.