water pipes

What Is A Water Hammer?

A major problem that can occur in the plumbing of a home is known as “water hammer”, and experienced building inspectors know what to look for to ensure that this problem doesn’t arise. Water hammer is tremendously common; when left untreated or when not dealt with in a timely manner, water hammer can cause pipes to explode or implode, depending on the circumstances. Repairing the causes of a water hammer situation before they result in completely destroyed piping is definitely the best way to go about the situation. Before you can do that, though, you need to know what water hammer is, how it is caused – and why you need to be on the lookout for it.

The Water Hammer Phenomenon

Basically, a water hammer refers to a loud bang or hammering sound that occurs when a valve becomes closed at the end of a pipeline system. In that case, a pressure wave occurs and a loud bang lets you know that it’s happening. Many people hear this bang start to happen and think nothing of it; it can go on for some time before any serious damage occurs, but it should be dealt with right away because there’s no telling when a pipe will explode or implode, causing horrible damage and resulting in a very expensive repair bill.

Stand Traps Prevent Water Hammer

A few different ways of preventing water hammer have been devised through the years. Air traps and stand traps are the two primary examples. Stand traps – which are open on the top – work as cushions to soften the impact of a wave of moving water. They give that water somewhere to go so that it, in theory, won’t damage or destroy the pipes in a home. Stand traps are meant to prevent exploding pipes caused by high pressure water with nowhere to go – one of the most common causes of water hammer.

Air Traps And Imploding Pipes

When a valve is closed in the plumbing system, water might keep trying to flow. This creates a vacuum which can then cause a pipe to implode or collapse in on itself. This is just as problematic as an exploding pipe, and air traps are meant to deal with the problem. They’re sometimes called air vents or vacuum relief valves, and they work to let air into the line to keep these dangerous vacuums from occurring. In these instances, the telltale water hammer noise will happen which generally provides warning of an impending problem. Building inspectors know what to look for, and homeowners should have their pipes examined periodically to make sure that no majorly catastrophic problems are in the “pipeline,” as it were.