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What’s That Knocking Sound from My Pipes?

water-waveA strange sound suddenly comes from your pipes—an odd and sometimes surprising knocking noise. Is your house haunted?

No … although plenty of people have jumped to this assumption since the invention of indoor plumbing. What you’re actually hearing is a phenomenon called water hammer. It’s a common occurrence, but it also indicates a problem in your plumbing you may need remedied by a professional plumber. Let’s take a closer look at the truth behind this ghostly occurrence…

The Cause of Water Hammer

Water hammer is what happens when the water flowing through pipes is brought to a sudden stop or is forced to change it direction abruptly, such as when a tap is turned off. This generates a sudden surge in pressure, and the vibrations in the pipe create the spooky noise of water hammer.

But why doesn’t this happen all the time? Shouldn’t you hear water hammer anytime you turn off a faucet, or when an appliance stops demanding water?

The reason that water hammer isn’t occurring constantly is because your plumbing contains air chambers in it designed specifically to prevent these pressure spikes. If you start to encounter water hammer regularly, it often means the air chambers are waterlogged.

Why Water Hammer Isn’t Good for Your Plumbing

The problem with water hammer isn’t so much the noise it makes (although nobody likes that either). It’s the increase in pressure. These pressure spikes can cause damage in the piping—even including burst pipes! They also can inflict damage on appliances such as the dishwasher and laundry machine. When water hammer is affecting your plumbing routinely, call for a professional plumber to check it out.

Stopping Water Hammer

There are a number of ways for a professional plumber to fix water hammer in a home. The most common is to restore the air in the air chambers. These air chambers are vertical pipes near the valves on the main pipes. A plumber can drain out all the water from the plumbing system and fill up the air chambers again. The chambers may also need to be cleaned.

Another potential reason for water hammer is that water pressure in your plumbing system is too high. This is often a municipal issue, so you can’t change the problem at the source. Instead, a plumber can install a pressure-reducing valve (water pressure regulator). The regulator will lower the pressure in the plumbing between 30 and 55 psi. Only trust this job to a professional so you have the correct pressure.

Let Professionals Update Your Plumbing

If water hammer is only one of a number of issues you routinely encounter with your plumbing, the trouble may be outdated pipes. If your home was built earlier than 1970, the plumbing may be failing due to age. In this case, we recommend you arrange for pipe replacement in Orlando, FL or elsewhere in our service area. You’ll not only eliminate water hammer, you’ll stop numerous leaks and clogs in the future and enjoy a generally efficient and trouble-free plumbing system.

Modern Plumbing Industries, Inc. has Proudly Served Central Florida Since 1975.

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