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Water Hammers & Noisy Pipes

Water hammers cause noisy pipes. And noisy pipes lead to sleepless nights. No, these aren’t something out of fiction that Thor carries to fend off bad guys. Instead, this malady can be an indication of bigger issues and a reason to take a closer look at your plumbing system.

What Are Water Hammers?

If you’re not familiar with the inner workings of your home’s plumbing, you may be scratching your head about what the heck this water hammer thing is. It’s not too big of a mystery, and it’s aptly named.

A water hammer occurs when water is on its way to its final destination and gets stopped short when an outlet is turned off abruptly, or the air chamber closes unexpectedly. At that point, the water runs into a type of dam, which causes a thunderous noise. It’s as if the water is running to get to you and a giant wall is in its way. It “hammers” on that wall and makes the noise that reverberates throughout your pipes, and your home.

The air chamber that may be causing the issue is a vertical pipe that is located in the wall near the exit point of the water (the sink, dishwasher, or washing machine, for instance). Air chambers are part of your plumbing and work as cushioning to help absorb the shock of that fast-moving water so it doesn’t slam into the dam. Most of the time, air chambers are located near automatic, or electric, shut-off valves, namely water-using appliances. They can, however, be located at every outlet; it depends on how your home was plumbed.

How to Fix the Issue

Since faulty air chambers are usually to blame for the water hammers you’re hearing, that’s where you should start when preparing for a DIY solution. You’ll need to add more air to the air chambers. Here’s how:

  1.  First, shut off the water main to your home. The goal here is to drain the pipes so you can add air.

  2. Since you’re draining water, we’re going to be using the power of gravity to make that happen. To start the process, open the faucet that’s highest in your home. You do this by removing the faucet handle, followed by the packing nut.

  3. Next, turn on the faucet that’s physically lowest. In a one-story home, this might mean the kitchen sink faucet is open, and the outside hose faucet is on.

  4. As all the water leaves the pipes, air will replace it.

  5. Keep an eye on the faucet that’s on, and once the water stops running, turn it off. Then reopen the main water valve to the house. Air will push through, followed by water, making some noise as you use the faucets throughout the house.

Other Reasons for Water Hammers

If refilling the air chambers didn’t rectify the situation, then there might be other issues at play. You could have loose mounting straps. Assess any accessible pipes (look under sinks, for example) to ensure that pipes are not moving. The strap is what holds the exposed pipe securely against the framing, and when it’s loose, you’ll hear clanking. Loose pipes could lead to that booming hammer sound as well.

Check Your Water Pressure

There’s one more reason you might be hearing water hammers: too-high water pressure. Imagine all of that rushing water trying to get through your tiny little pipes. It’s bound to cause some noise at some point. A pressure regulator might be in order if you’re dealing with water pressure that’s higher than it needs to be. The regulator will let you know how high your pressure currently is and will let you know if it’s too high. If your water pressure is currently at 80 PSI or above it is too high and needs to be regulated with a pressure


Call Your Plumber

Loud noises and walls that bump and shake can be unsettling. Before you start to think that your house is haunted, consider that you might have water hammers and noisy pipes. We encourage you to call your trusted Arizona plumbers at Forrest Anderson. We will come in and inspect your pipes to see what’s the underlying cause of all that noise. Once again, you’ll be able to rest easy.

Contact Forrest Anderson Today!

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