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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

The Effects of Water Hammer on Your Plumbing


You hear a sudden clang coming from the walls of your home, like a hammer striking metal. It’s not a ghost… it’s the plumbing. The sound you’re hearing is the result of water hammer, which occurs when there are no air cushions in the pipes to absorb the shock wave that occurs when water suddenly stops moving because a tap is shut off.

The name “water hammer” sounds intimidating. Is water hammer dangerous in Glenview? Is it bad for your pipes? We can ease your mind about the “dangerous” part: water hammer isn’t something that poses a physical threat to you or your family’s health. As for whether it’s bad for the pipes—that’s a definite yes. In fact, water hammer has several deleterious effects on plumbing, which is why we encourage you to call for our professional plumbers to look into water hammer in your home as soon as you begin to notice it.

How Water Hammer Negatively Affects Your Plumbing

Pipe Damage

The shock waves from water hammer will cause pipes to vibrate, shake, and even shift around. This movement can lead to damage such as leaks, cracks, or weakened joints, especially in older or poorly maintained plumbing systems. If you let water hammer continue, you’re at a much higher risk of hidden leaks occurring around your home, wasting water and creating damage.

Appliance Malfunctions

The force of water hammer can subject appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, to excessive stress. Over time, this stress may contribute to premature wear and tear, potentially leading to malfunctions or breakdowns. 

Fixture Malfunctions

Water hammer creates rapid pressure fluctuations, and these can impair the workings of faucets, valves, and other plumbing fixtures around your home. You may deal with malfunctions such as dripping faucets or difficulty regulating water temperature.

Water Heater Issues

Sudden pressure fluctuations from water hammer can be bad news for your water heater, affecting both its performance and efficiency. In electric water heaters, it can damage the heating element. In all types of water heaters, it leads to leaks at important connection points and even allows extra sediment to enter the tank.

What to Do About Water Hammer

The good news about water hammer is that it’s extremely noticeable. In fact, the noise of water hammer can be disrupting to your daily life. You’ll know it’s occurring—and you’ll know that it’s time to call professionals to fix it before it starts to inflict damage to your plumbing system.

Plumbers can correct water hammer in several ways. If they find water-logged air chambers have caused the problem, they can restore the air to these chambers. They can add air cushions to pipe sections that need it. If they discover that the water hammer is due to high water pressure in the plumbing, they’ll attach a device called a water pressure arrestor to get control over the problem. You can trust that our plumbers will have the problem solved.

For expert plumbing service, installations, or maintenance contact Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Our knowledgeable plumbers serve the North Shore and Northwest Chicago suburbs. Rely on Reliance! 

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