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What is that noise?  Water Hammers

What is that noise? Water Hammers

What is Water Hammer?

Water hammer is easily recognized by the banging or thumping noise that’s heard when valves are shut off. Although this is an easy way to recognize the problem, water hammer doesn’t always make these telltale noises. Water hammer occurs when the flow of moving water is suddenly stopped by a closing valve.

This sudden stop results in a tremendous spike of pressure behind the valve which acts like a tiny explosion inside the pipe. This pressure spike reverberates throughout the plumbing system, rattling and shaking pipes, until it is absorbed. Normally, a sufficient pocket of air will absorb such a pressure spike, but if no pocket of air is present, expensive fixtures and appliances within the plumbing system will be damaged as they are left to absorb this pressure spike.

 Water Hammers

Why Air Chambers Don’t Work

It used to be thought that an air chamber, or capped stand pipe, was an effective solution to controlling water hammer. However, within an air chamber, nothing separates the air from the water.

It only takes a few short weeks before the air is absorbed into the water, leaving the air chamber waterlogged and completely ineffective. Laboratory tests confirm that the air is depleted by simple air permeation and by interaction between static pressure and flow pressure. In the diagram shown, (below) notice the difference in water level between “Static Line Pressure” and “Post-cycle Static Level.”

 Water Hammers

Controlling Water Hammer

The most effective means of controlling water hammer is a measured, compressible cushion of air which is permanently separated from the water system. Sioux Chief arresters employ a pressurized cushion of air and a two o-ring piston, which permanently separates this air cushion from the water system.

When the valve closes and the water flow is suddenly stopped, the pressure spike pushes the piston up the arrester chamber against the pressurized cushion of air. The air cushion in the arrester reacts instantly, absorbing the pressure spike that causes water hammer.

Although arresters are typically tested to 10,000 cycles, Sioux Chief arresters have been independently lab tested to withstand 500,000 cycles without failure. All Sioux Chief arresters are guaranteed to control water hammer for the lifetime of the plumbing system

 Water Hammers 


Q. Is my hammer arrestor defective? Why does the banging keep coming back?


A. Have you checked or replaced your appliances like dishwasher or washer? Is it loud banging and/or a vibrating sound?

Being electrically controlled, these appliances stop the flow of water immediately. Having no other place to go, water with high pressure lashes back and creates a shockwave back into the pipe causing loud bangs. 

While a hammer arrestor is generally effective, this solution may not be permanent. Water can get into the air chambers, as the hydraulic shock occurs if your home’s water pressure is too high.

Purchase a water pressure gauge, available in most hardware, and check to see if you are over 50 psi. If you are, you will continually have vibrations and shock back lashing.

Let's troubleshoot before you purchase a new one.

Make sure that the water hammer is installed closest to the appliance creating the shock wave.

Adjust the water pressure:

Look for the pressure-reducing valve near the home’s main water supply and adjust the pressure to 50psi or below. You may need a wrench if it does not have a valve handle

Check for loose water supply lines:

When straps securing pipes are not tight enough, you can replace or add some more to prevent vibration. CAUTION! metal straps do not go with copper pipes, as the mixture of materials causes electrolysis.

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