Have you ever turned on the faucet in your home, or flushed the toilet, and suddenly the pipes start banging? Do you hear humming and whistling noises in your pipes? This problem is often described as water hammer and it is a very common plumbing problem.
Water hammer is typically caused when the water pressure in your home is too high.
The pressure in the city is much higher than the pressure needed in your home. Therefore residential homes have a Pressure Reducing Valve or P.R.V., which is a bell-shaped valve that is installed right after the main water shut off valve to reduce the water pressure as it enters the home.
The pressure should be no more than 75 p.s.i. on a normal-sized residential home. If the pressure is too high, it causes the loud banging, humming, whistling or shaking in your pipes.
A good way to explain this is using a soda can analogy. When you shake a soda can, the pressure builds up inside the can. If you opened the can after shaking it, there is a great big soda explosion as the pressure is suddenly relieved and the soda comes rushing out all at once.
When the pressure builds up in your pipes and you turn on the faucet or flush the toilet, the pressure automatically reduces because you are now suddenly relieving the pressure. The water has to travel through all the turns, twists and curves in the pipes to the plumbing fixture where the pressure is being relieved. Since the water pressure is high, it is traveling at a great force, and that is what causes the banging, whistling or humming.
Imagine if there was a shaken soda explosion traveling through the pipes in your home, and you will have a great idea of what is happening to the water!
What do you do if your pipes are banging?
If you notice that your pipes are banging and you suspect you have water hammer, contact your local plumber immediately. It is possible that your pressure reducing valve simply needs to be adjusted, and that could resolve your water hammer issue. If your P.R.V. is over 5 years old, you may need to have your local plumber evaluate it for replacement. You should never attempt to adjust the P.R.V. yourself.
If you suspect that you have water hammer, it should be taken care of immediately. If the banging pipes are not resolved quickly, this could lead to excessive stress on your faucets, toilets, pipes, valves and a prolonged issue could damage your entire plumbing system, which could lead to very costly repairs.
Call your Allgood Plumber at least once a year to have an inspection of your entire plumbing system which includes an assessment of your water pressure.