Do your plumbing pipes make banging or rattling sounds in your walls whenever someone shuts off the water in your home? If so, it’s time to take action. What you’re hearing is a phenomenon called water hammer. It’s both a sound and a violent vibration that occurs when water that’s rushing through a pipe comes to an abrupt stop.
Yes, water hammer is a problem. The shockwave that it sends through your plumbing system can damage plumbing fixtures and cause pipes to loosen, making leaks more likely. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to stop water hammer.
THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO TO STOP WATER HAMMER
You might be able to stop water hammer without a plumber’s help. You can do this with a fairly simple process that drains your plumbing system and refills water-logged air pockets in the pipes. These air pockets provide a shock-absorbing cushion to stop water from rattling your pipes whenever you shut the water off. When water gets into these air pockets, they stop working correctly.
Here are the steps to take to fix water hammer:
1. Start by temporarily shutting off your home’s water supply. Go to your home’s main water shut-off valve and turn the handle to stop the flow of water. The main shut-off valve is often located in a home’s basement, close to the meter, or close to wherever your main water line enters your home.
2. The next step is draining all the remaining water out of your home. Turn on all of the faucets, starting on the top floor at the faucet farthest away from your home’s main shut-off valve. Work your way downstairs to any sinks or laundry tubs in the basement.
3. Continue the draining process. Turn on all of your showers/tubs. Flush all of your toilets until the toilet tanks are empty.
Once water stops coming out of your faucets, you will have successfully drained your home’s plumbing system. This should allow air back into the air chambers that were previously waterlogged. To return water to your home, complete the steps above in reverse order.
WHAT TO DO IF WATER HAMMER RETURNS AFTER DRAINING YOUR PLUMBING
Even if draining your pipes didn’t fix water hammer, don’t lose heart yet – the problem can be solved! At this point, it’s best to involve an experienced plumber to inspect your pipes and determine which solution will be the best long-term one. Some possible solutions may include:
- Adjusting your home’s water pressure at the pressure regulator. The water pressure might be set too high.
- Replacing your home’s water pressure regulator. If it’s damaged, it might not be regulating water pressure correctly.
- Installing water hammer arrestors. A plumber can install these into your pipes to absorb any shock from sudden water pressure.