Is the House Being Haunted by a Water Hammer This Halloween?

What to Do About That Scary Banging Sound in The Walls

Many homeowners will recognize the tale: they’re in their house, minding their own business, when they hear a mysterious banging sound coming from behind the walls. They investigate only to find an empty room and a chill running down their spine. Their imagination can’t help but run wild, conjuring thoughts of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins.

But homeowners are probably better off calling their local plumber instead of calling a priest or a ghost hunter to root out the source of these frightful sounds. That spooky banging sound is likely a water hammer, and although it may not be as scary as some paranormal villain, it’s still nothing to scoff at. Read on to learn what a water hammer is, the damage it can do to a home’s plumbing system, and how to fix it.

What Exactly is a Water Hammer, and What Causes It?

A water hammer, also known as hydraulic shock, is a spike in pressure within a plumbing system that occurs when the flow of water abruptly stops or changes direction. This sudden pressure surge can itself cause a loud “thud” sound as well as cause pipes to jerk and knock against the walls or other pipes (hence the “hammer”). 

Water hammer is often caused by valves closing suddenly (this is common with the automatic valves on washing machines and dishwashers). It can also be the result of excessively high water pressure. Most home plumbing systems are fitted with air chambers, which give water a place to go when pressure suddenly spikes, reducing the impact of hydraulic shock. If these air chambers become filled with water, homeowners will likely experience more instances of noisy pipes and water hammers.

What Are the Dangers of Water Hammers?

pipe Besides being spooky (and annoying), a water hammer can also do a number on the home’s plumbing system. The sudden pressure spikes the water hammer produces can be as much as ten times greater than the system is designed to handle. This can damage pipe fittings, joints, and connectors, potentially causing a rupture or slow leak. It can also harm valves and other components on fixtures such as faucets, toilets, and water-using appliances. 

A single instance may be enough to do serious damage, particularly in older homes with aging pipes, but the cumulative effects can be extensive in any home. That’s why homeowners must address noisy water pipes as soon as possible by calling a qualified plumber.

How Do the Pros Fix Water Hammers?

professionals Fixing a water hammer should always begin with identifying the underlying cause. For example, suppose the water supply system’s air chambers are filled with water. In that case, draining the water lines may solve the problem temporarily – but if they become water-logged due to high water pressure, the air chambers will eventually fill up again, and the water hammer will return.

This is why it’s best to call a qualified professional to diagnose and repair banging pipes. They can thoroughly inspect the system and find the root cause of the water hammer issues. If the high water pressure is the problem, a plumber can adjust the pressure to normal levels or install a water pressure regulator if necessary.

Some homes may not have air chambers, but a plumber can install them. Another option is to install water hammer arrestors near fixtures. Like air chambers, water hammer arrestors are devices installed along supply lines to absorb hydraulic shock. Installing air chambers or arrestors (or both) isn’t easy, so it’s best left to the professionals. 

Finally, suppose the water hammer can’t entirely be eliminated due to a specific fixture (such as a dishwasher with an aggressive valve). In that case, pros may also fasten pipes more securely to studs and walls to prevent excessive vibration and knocking, reducing the likelihood of a rupture or leak until it’s time to replace the fixture.

About Fitzgerald Plumbing

The family-owned and operated Fitzgerald Plumbing has been the go-to plumber for Lakewood, CA, and the surrounding areas for over a decade. They offer straightforward pricing, estimates, and same-day service. Call them today for water line repair and replacement in Lakewood, CA.