What Is a Water Hammer?

what is a water hammer?

Do you ever hear a loud thudding or banging sound coming from inside the walls of your house?

While these noises can be confusing and frightening, we do have some good news – it’s probably not a ghost or poltergeist.

The bad news? If you routinely hear a banging coming from within your walls, you probably do have a water hammer somewhere in your plumbing system… and that can lead to major problems if you don’t address it quickly.

What Is a Water Hammer?

Water hammer occurs when a pipe flexes to absorb the force of stopping water, usually due to a sudden change in pressure; the sound comes from the shockwave created by the force of the vibrating wave sent off by the water, which may cause the pipe to warp or else rattle and bang against its holders or the wall.

There are all sorts of potential causes for water hammers – some immediately troubling, some a little less so. You may have a clog or sediment build-up somewhere in your pipes, for instance. You may simply have an insufficient amount of air “cushioning” your system. Or it may just be that your pipes are too old or are fitted together incorrectly, rendering them unable handle the pressure created by your home’s water usage.

Fixing a Water Hammer

Whatever the case, it’s important that you bring out a plumbing professional to take a look as soon as possible! Because they can be caused by so many different parts of your plumbing system, it’s important to get a professional’s insight when it comes to finding the right solution to a water hammer.

Water hammers are particularly prevalent in older homes with older plumbing systems; if this is the case for your home, a plumber may need to come through in order install air chambers or shock absorbers at the problem sites in your plumbing systems.

In some cases, your contractor may also want to clean, refresh, or otherwise update significant portions of your pipework; for some homes, adding a pressure-reducing valve may help reduce the strain and shock on your system.

More rarely, your plumber may simply need to troubleshoot your system, draining your pipes and allowing a sufficient air cushion to reform within them.

The Potential Costs of an Untreated Water Hammer

In addition to keeping you awake and vexed with all that annoying banging and thudding, a water hammer, if left untreated, could lead to serious trouble for your home.

You see, the prolonged, repetitive force of a water hammer can lead to your pipes bursting, collapsing, imploding, or breaking free of their fittings, each of which can lead to the sort of watery deluge that may cause you long-term problems with mold, mildew, and water damage.

Don’t let a plumbing disaster happen to you! Instead, silence the banging and save your system by reaching out to a plumber today!

For service or a free estimate, don’t hesitate to drop J. Blanton Plumbing a line! Our team is always here and ready to tackle whatever mysteries lay deep within your Chicago pipes – as long as it’s not actually a ghost!