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Water Hammer: Understanding and Solving the Plumbing Phenomenon


Water hammer is a common plumbing issue that is caused by the sudden and forceful stoppage of water flow in pipes. When water is suddenly stopped in a pipe, it creates pressure waves that can cause pipes to bang and make a loud, knocking sound. Over time, this can result in damage to pipes, fittings, and valves.


Water hammer
Water hammer: The invisible force causing damage to your plumbing system.

What Causes Water Hammer?

Water hammer occurs when water is flowing through a pipe and then suddenly stops due to the closing of a valve. The energy from the water continues to move forward, creating a pressure wave that travels back through the pipe. This pressure wave can cause pipes to vibrate and bang against other pipes or fittings, resulting in the familiar knocking sound.


What are the Consequences of Water Hammer?

Water hammer can cause a range of problems in plumbing systems, including:

  • Leaks: Water hammer can cause fittings and valves to loosen and leak over time, which can result in water damage and higher water bills.

  • Broken pipes: The repeated banging of pipes against fittings and valves can cause pipes to crack and break.

  • Malfunctioning valves: Water hammer can cause valves to stick or malfunction, which can result in water leaks and reduced water pressure.


Solving Water Hammer

Fortunately, there are several ways to solve water hammer, including:

  • Installing water hammer arrestors: Water hammer arrestors are designed to absorb the pressure waves created by water hammer, preventing pipes from banging and reducing the risk of damage.

  • Replacing old pipes: Over time, pipes can become worn and damaged, making them more susceptible to water hammer. Replacing old pipes can help reduce the risk of water hammer and other plumbing issues.

  • Adjusting valve settings: Installing or adjusting slow-closing valves can help prevent water hammer by reducing the speed at which water stops flowing through pipes.


In conclusion, water hammer is a common plumbing issue that can cause serious problems if left unaddressed. By understanding the causes of water hammer and taking steps to prevent it, you can protect your plumbing system and prevent costly repairs. Whether you choose to install water hammer arrestors, replace old pipes, or adjust valve settings, the key to solving water hammer is taking action before it causes serious damage.

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