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What can cause Water Hammer, and how to fix it?

Just like all the moving fluid, flowing water also has momentum. Any sudden change in the water flow can propagate shock waves through the system. This phenomenon is called a water hammer.

Water flow change can happen due to various reasons. These include valve operation, pump stopping and starting, directional changes due to pipe fittings, and more.

Worn valves and improperly supported pipework can worsen the water hammer problem.

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Common causes of water hammer problem

There are a few possible areas that you should look to find the cause of the water hammer problem. Let’s look at some of the most important ones here to understand things better.

So, here we go:

·         Loose or improperly secured pipes

If your pipes aren’t secured properly, will it make even the mildest shockwave create loud bangs? You must check if your pipes are securely fixed to a strong surface.

Consider if you have any hidden pipework under the woodwork or floor, and check any possible loose straps, joints, and bolts. Airing cupboards and cellar are the most common areas to look for improperly secured pipes that may increase the water hammer effects.

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·         Torn stop valves

Worn stop valves can also cause the water hammer problem. Stop valves with worn washers or loose gland packing are one of the key causes of water hammer. These valves are generally open when the shock wave travels through your pipework; it can rattle the valve handle well and make it a loose jumper.

·         Entrapped air

Trapped air inside the water system can also cause water hammer. Air can sometimes find its way into the pipework and quickly fill the pipes. Entrapped air in the pipework can ultimately lead to water hammering.

·         Ball /Float Valves

Open water tank’s ripples can also cause a water hammer, especially when a float or ball valve controls water inflow and outflow. When water flows into a sealed tank, then the ball or float valve rocks up or down. This phenomenon closes or opens the valve.

The movement can produce a pressure wave that will resonate through pipework and produce a hammering sound.

·         Waterlogged air chambers

Pipes contain air chambers meant to absorb shock waves that develop by a sudden stop in the water flow. If these air chambers become waterlogged, they don’t contain any cushion to stop shockwaves from colliding with the pipe’s interior. The problem will result in potential damage or loud noise.

·         New kitchen appliances installation

Has the water hammer problem started after installing a new appliance, for instance, a dishwasher or washing machine? Then it is more likely that your solenoid valves have some problem. Both washing machines and dishwashers need a water supply controlled by solenoid valves.

These electrically operated valves can cut the water flow quickly. Due to this, water will flow back up the pipes and cause water hammer.

How to fix the water hammer problem?

Here are some of the best ways to effectively fix the water hammer problem.

So, here we go:

Wrap and secure water pipes

If loose water pipes are causing loud bangs, you should secure your existing pipe straps by adding new ones. You can also consider tightening joists and studs.

  • Always avoid mixing different metals while securing your water pipes. It would be better not to use a copper strap to secure a steel pipe or vice versa.
  • Using different metals will cause a chemical reaction leading to metal corrosion. s
  • Calling a plumber will be wiser if the problematic pipes are hidden.
  • Another amazing idea here is wrapping your water pipe using foam insulation. It will absorb the shock and prevent water hammering.

This practice is also helpful in keeping your water pipes from freezing in cold areas.

Consider air-relief valve installation.

Another effective solution to avoid water hammering is air-relief valve installation. Install air relief valves throughout your water system at high points. These valves will help in releasing entrapped air. If your water pipe system is spread across a larger flat area, installing air relief valves throughout the system would be better. The key areas should be:

  • Early in the pipework
  • Around downstream and pumps
  • In the middle of the system.

Install air chamber

Installing air chambers is also an effective fix for the water hammer problem. The air chamber system features a pipe’s short segment with an air-filled or empty chamber. The chamber in it is used to cushion the shock waves.

This cushioning will consequently reduce the shock wave size downstream of the valve. The installation of an air chamber doesn’t cost you a fortune. However, it would help if you drained the air chambers after every few months. This practice is imperative to ensure the smooth working of your installed air chamber.

Fix newly installed appliance.


Invest in a water pressure regulator.

High water pressure is one of the most common causes of water hammer. Water running at 100 psi is more likely to cause a problem for you. Normal water pressure should be 30 to 55 psi in your pipework system. Installation of a water pressure regulator is the best solution. This system will monitor, control and regulate water pressure entering your home system.

Even though installing a water pressure regulator is an expensive solution, it can help you save in the long run. A water pressure regulator can protect your costly water-dependent home appliances ranging from toilets, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, etc.

Install water hammer arrestors.

Water hammer arrestors have similar operation as air chambers but don’t use a vertical pipe. Instead, the water hammer arrestor features a combination of air bladder and springs to reduce shock waves by absorbing water movement.

Downstream of all the quick closing valves available in your pipe system. If you invest in a high-quality water hammer arrestor, it doesn’t require continuous maintenance, unlike air chambers that must be drained often.

Therefore, installing a water hammer arrestor can be a long-term solution for you to consider.

Overall, various things can lead to water hammering in your water system. However, you can consider fixing the problem by choosing any solution suitable to your needs.

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