How to Solve Water Hammer Sounds

A plumber working on pipes against a brick wall.

You may be surprised to learn that water hammer sounds are actually fairly common. They're simply pressure waves in pipes that build up when water abruptly changes course. While it's easy to dismiss these sounds as little more than a nuisance, they can create a lot of plumbing nightmares, including burst pipes. To avoid these costly plumbing repairs, here are a few ways you can rid your home of the water hammer effect.

Reduce Water Pressure

The best way to eliminate the water hammer sound is to check your air chamber. An air chamber releases the water pressure that naturally builds whenever a valve redirects water. These chambers, however, can get plugged up with residue, which prevents them from releasing the pressure. To remedy this problem, simply remove the cap on the air chamber and clean it out.

Install an Air Chamber

If the piping does not feature an air chamber, consider installing one to prevent future water hammer sounds. The air chamber should be installed near the main water valves. Additional air chambers may be required throughout the home to relieve pressure. Whether you are cleaning out air chambers or installing new ones, you will need to replenish the air to fully eliminate water hammer sounds.

Replenish Air

To replenish the air in your plumbing system, shut off the main water supply to your home. Locate the highest faucet in the house and open it up. Then, open the lowest faucet in the house, which is usually located on the bottom floor or basement. Water should start draining out of the system. Once all the water has drained, close the low faucet and turn on the main valve. The incoming water will push the air out of the system while keeping some in the air chambers. If the air chambers are clogged, this process will not eliminate water hammer sounds.

Pressure Valves

Water pressure valves can also help alleviate water hammer sounds. Water regulators should be installed on the main water pipe inside your home. You do not need more than one regulator and the gauge should read between 30 and 55 psi. These valves can also prevent high pressure from breaking certain appliances, such as washers and toilets.

Loose Pipes

Water hammer sounds can also be the result of loose pipe-mounting straps. These straps secure pipes to the frame and help stabilize them while running. If the straps are too loose, the vibration caused by the pipes create hammer sounds. Tighten any loose straps and use plumber’s tape to get a tighter fit. If you are installing new straps, avoid using steel or galvanized straps on copper pipes because this can create leaks. Double-check each pipe and make sure it's tightly connected to the frame before proceeding.

Water Arrestors

If you do not want to install air chambers or water pressure regulators, mechanical water arrestors are another way to stop hammer noises. These devices can be installed in tight places where there is not enough room for air chambers. They work by absorbing water pressure with a spring and bladder system and are great for alleviating high water pressure problems. In fact, water arrestors are preferred over air chambers in both commercial and residential settings.