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What Should I Do if I Have Banging Pipes?

If you have “banging pipes” then chances are you have a problem known as “water hammering”. A “water hammer” (or, more generally, fluid hammer) is a pressure surge or wave resulting when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly (momentum change). Water hammering commonly occurs when a valve is closed suddenly at an end of a piping system, and a pressure wave propagates in the pipe. It may also be known as hydraulic shock.

This pressure wave can cause major problems, from noise and vibration to pipe collapse or rupture. It is possible to reduce the effects of the water hammer pulses with accumulators or arrestors and other features. This is where Patriot Plumbing and Rooter comes in! As a leading plumber in L.A., they can solve this problem quickly. The problem itself is just “over pressurizing” as a valve (usually a faucet) is closed.  If the pipe is suddenly closed at the outlet (downstream), the mass of water before the closure is still moving forward with some velocity, building up a high pressure and shock waves. In domestic plumbing, this is experienced as a loud banging resembling a hammering noise. Water hammer can cause pipelines to break if the pressure is high enough. Air traps or standpipes (open at the top) are sometimes added as dampers to water systems to provide a cushion to absorb the force of moving water in order to prevent damage to the system. (At some hydroelectric generating stations, what appears to be a water tower is actually one of these devices, known as a surge drum.)

In the home, water hammer may occur when a toilet, washer machine or dishwasher shuts off water flow. The result may be heard as a loud bang, repetitive banging (as the shock wave travels back and forth in the plumbing system), or as some shuddering.

On the other hand, when an upstream valve in a pipe is closed, the water downstream of the valve will attempt to continue flowing, creating a vacuum that may cause the pipe to collapse or implode. This problem can be particularly acute if the pipe is on a downhill slope. To prevent this, air and vacuum relief valves, or air vents, are installed just downstream of the valve to allow air to enter the line and prevent this vacuum from occurring.

Other causes of water hammer are pump failure, and check valve slam (due to sudden deceleration, a check valve may slam shut rapidly, depending on the dynamic characteristic of the check valve and the mass of the water between a check valve and tank). So if you have water hammer issues, contact Patriot Plumbing in Orange County, CA. You’ll be happy you did!