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Water Hammer

What it is in regard to home plumbing.

Posted 22:06 May 03, 2023
Last Updated 22:06 May 03, 2023

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Water hammer is a common phenomenon in plumbing systems that occurs when water flowing through pipes suddenly stops or changes direction, causing a pressure surge or shock wave. This can result in a loud banging noise and even damage to pipes and fittings if not addressed. Water hammer can occur in any plumbing system, but it is most common in homes with older or poorly designed systems.

The primary cause of water hammer is the sudden change in flow or direction of water within the plumbing system. This can occur when a valve is closed quickly, such as when a washing machine or dishwasher finishes its cycle. The momentum of the water creates a pressure surge that travels through the pipes, causing the banging noise that is associated with water hammer.

Another common cause of water hammer is the use of undersized pipes or fittings. When water is forced through pipes that are too small, the velocity of the water increases, creating more momentum and increasing the likelihood of water hammer. Similarly, when fittings are not properly installed or tightened, they can create turbulence in the water flow that can lead to pressure surges.

Water hammer can also be caused by air in the plumbing system. When air becomes trapped in the pipes, it can create pockets of low pressure that can lead to water hammer. This is often seen in homes with well water or in systems where the water supply is temporarily interrupted, causing air to enter the system.

In addition to being noisy, water hammer can cause damage to plumbing systems over time. The repeated pressure surges can weaken pipes and fittings, causing them to eventually fail. This can result in leaks or even burst pipes, which can be costly to repair.

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent or mitigate water hammer in home plumbing systems. One of the simplest is to ensure that valves are closed slowly and gently, rather than abruptly. This allows the water to gradually slow down and reduces the likelihood of a pressure surge.

Another solution is to install water hammer arrestors, which are devices that absorb the shock wave created by water hammer. These devices are typically installed near valves or appliances that are prone to causing water hammer and can significantly reduce the noise and potential for damage.

Properly sizing pipes and fittings can also help to prevent water hammer. By ensuring that the plumbing system is designed to handle the anticipated flow and pressure, the risk of water hammer can be greatly reduced.

In addition, ensuring that the plumbing system is properly vented can help to prevent air from becoming trapped in the pipes. This is especially important in homes with well water or other non-municipal water supplies.

Regular maintenance of the plumbing system can also help to prevent water hammer. Checking for leaks or other signs of damage and repairing them promptly can prevent small issues from becoming larger problems that can lead to water hammer.

In conclusion, water hammer is a common and potentially damaging phenomenon in home plumbing systems. Understanding the causes of water hammer and implementing appropriate prevention measures can help to mitigate the risk of damage and ensure a quiet and reliable plumbing system.

If water hammer is a problem in your home, contact the professional plumbers here at All Trades. We service Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, and most parts of Clark County Nevada. We offer same-day service in most cases.

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