Instead of a welcome 'swoosh' when you turn your taps on, water hammer refers to a loud banging (or hammering) sound caused by sudden pressure changes in your pipes. It's most common in older houses with ageing water pipes and can sometimes be challenging to fix as the source of the problem could be varied and hard to pinpoint.
If you've found your way onto this page, most likely, you're keen to know how to stop water hammer in your home, as it's both annoying to live with and potentially damaging to your household water system. Below we'll detail the best remedial measures you can take to stop or limit water hammer in houses and apartments and when to call in the professionals.
Hydraulic shock, commonly known as water hammer, is most commonly experienced when taps are suddenly turned off. This is because water that was previously flowing in one direction suddenly has to stop or change direction. This creates a banging sound as the water hits the sides of the pipes, or in some cases, causes the pipes to bang against one another or other fittings.
Water pipes aren't designed to be noisy, so if they are, that's a good indication that something isn't quite right. Older pipes are more susceptible to banging as they have been exposed to prolonged wear and tear. Older household water systems and pipes might also be lacking a sufficient number of air chambers to cushion and disperse the pressure created when the water has to stop or change direction suddenly. But all hope is not lost; there is a range of solutions that can stop water hammer in houses and apartments without too much time or money.
Increased pressure in your pipes can also create these banging noises, and sometimes they're loud enough to be quite concerning. So, is it just a quirk of older houses, or should you be doing all you can to stop water hammer noises? The answer is yes! You should definitely be trying to stop water hammer as you are risking water damage in your home from leaks, loose joints or even a burst pipe.
Air pockets in your pipes can sometimes present the same symptoms as water hammer, but this problem luckily has a simple solution. All you need to do is find your water meter and turn on the tap closest to the metre. Then find the next nearest tap and turn that on too. The aim is to work away from the water metre until all the taps in your house are on. Now you need to turn them off in reverse order. This should be all you need to know about how to stop water hammer.
Although this isn't a permanent solution, half closing the intake valves on your dishwasher and washing machine can help stop water hammer in the short term. This works because the shut-off valves in these appliances typically close very suddenly, exacerbating the bang-ing sound because of the sudden pressure change in the pipes. Alternatively, you can replace the intake connections of these applianced with wider mouthed hoses to make sure the water flow isn't curtailed so suddenly, allowing a slower and more even release of pressure.
Available at most hardware stores, water hammer arresters are an affordable solution that will stop water hammer in houses and apartments by acting as shock absorbers. When fast closing valves suddenly stop the water flow in your pipes, the arresters will absorb the momentum from the sudden pressure change, negating the banging noise.
There may be one specific section of your piping that's causing all the racket, so when thinking about how to stop water hammer in toilet cisterns, taps or connections with appliances, it's important to isolate where the problem is coming from. Securing the offending pipe could be an easy solution if the pipe is accessible to you. If it's not, a plumber can always take care of it for you.
Sometimes water hammer is caused by too much overall pressure in the pipes. A plumber can install a pressure-limiting valve at the metre to lessen the pressure before the water even reaches your residence.
If you're specifically wondering how to stop water hammer in taps, it could be a case of your fixtures being incompatible with your pipes. Modern mixer taps are super-efficient and turn off the water flow almost instantaneously, and this exacerbates water hammer if there's too much built-up pressure. Soft-close faucets are usually better in this case as they turn off the flow of water in a slower, more even way.
When all else fails, it's best to call in the professionals! If you've tried everything you can and you still have noisy pipes, it's time to call the experts at CDL Plumbing. We're experienced plumbers who know how to stop water hammer efficiently and cost-effectively. We're an honest and reliable plumbing service and will always provide you with a quote before beginning any repairs. If you don't know how to stop water hammer, get in touch with us at CDL today! We have over 15 years of experience servicing customers across Newcastle, Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, and Port Stevens and will happily find the best solution for you.