How to Tackle That Scary Noise Coming From Pipes
Imagine going about the day when suddenly, there’s a banging noise coming from behind the walls. No, that’s not a ghost, but it could be a water hammer. This is a common phenomenon that causes noisy water pipes. While the sound itself isn’t an issue, water hammers can eventually damage the plumbing system.
When a water hammer happens, homeowners should reach out to a professional as soon as possible. The water hammer can cause burst pipes, leaks, and other issues if left unaddressed.
Water Hammers Are a Pressure Surge
Contrary to what the name suggests, a water hammer isn’t a physical object. Instead, it’s when water flowing inside a pipe stops or changes directions suddenly, sending a shockwave through the pipes, which causes the hammering sound.
Valves control water flow. When a valve is off, water doesn’t move through the pipes. When the valve opens, water flows through lines to a faucet or showerhead––until someone turns the valve off. A water hammer happens when the valve closes too suddenly, and the water flow (still in motion) doesn’t have anywhere to go. So, it hammers against the valve and pipe until the pressure is relieved. Causes of water hammers can range from worn valves to excess pressure in the plumbing system. In either case, plumbers can provide further insight and solutions.
Water Hammers Can Get Dangerous
As noted, the sound a water hammer makes isn’t inherently dangerous. It’s the stress that the hammering water puts on the plumbing system that causes problems. Water hammers can cause:
- Burst pipes: The water pressure can erode the inside of pipes, causing them to burst. This can lead to mold growth, drywall rot, water damage, and flooding––each of which has its headaches.
- Higher-than-average water bills: A water hammer can eventually wear down a valve, allowing water to slip through. San Francisco Power Water and Sewer do not distinguish between water homeowners intentionally use and water that leaks because of plumbing issues. It charges homeowners based on their residences’ water consumption.
- Destroyed fixtures: Plumbing systems rely on valves to control water flow. With prolonged water hammers, these valves cannot work effectively. This creates a domino effect of problems that can strain a homeowner’s patience and wallet.
How Can a Professional Fix Water Hammers?
When addressing a water hammer, plumbers will first determine the problem’s location and severity. Then, they’ll decide on a course of action that could benefit the homeowner, fix the problem, and prevent it from happening again.
A plumber may:
- Install a water hammer arrestor: Water hammer arrestors relieve the pressure a water hammer creates. They’re air-filled chambers that cushion shockwaves.
- Replace valves: A valve that doesn’t create a tight seal could affect the water flow. Valves can generally last about 20 years before they need replacing.
- Secure loose pipes: Loose pipes are more seriously affected by vibrations and water hammers, so plumbers can better secure these pipes to prevent damage.
About Magic Plumbing
Magic Plumbing has over 40 years of experience serving San Francisco residents and the surrounding areas. They offer convenient scheduling, no surprises, and are available to answer calls 24/7. Call them today for plumbing services in San Francisco, CA.
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