Everything You Need To Know About Water Hammers And How To Fix Them

Everything You Need To Know About Water Hammers And How To Fix Them

Have you ever heard a loud ‘thunk’ as you’ve turned your faucet off after brushing your teeth or washing your hands? If the answer is yes, you’ve likely got water hammers in your plumbing system.

Although the brief bang might seem like nothing to worry about, water hammers carry a lot of risk to you and your plumbing system, so it’s integral to be able to spot the signs, act fast and use emergency plumbing repair services from Caldwell Plumbing if your pipes fail.

To help you identify the signs and understand the risk of water hammers, we’ve created this complete guide so you can tackle water hammers and keep your plumbing system safe from damage.

What Are Water Hammers?

Before we get into the specifics, let’s discuss the basics. Water hammers are essential shockwaves that travel through your water pipes and make it sound as if someone has knocked your pipe with a hammer.

Typically, these occur due to steam pressure accelerating water but is then stopped suddenly. This can either be on a valve or the surface of the pipe. As water has a much higher velocity, the sudden stopping of kinetic energy is converted into the water and sends a shock wave through the pipe, resulting in a loud bang.

What Causes Water Hammers?

In some cases, the cause of the banging is brought on by extremely loose pipes banging against each other after the shock wave, which can result in severe damage to your plumbing system.

There are a few reasons why water hammers occur and this will depend on some factors including your pipe’s condition and the age of your home. One of the first reasons why you may experience water hammers is loose pipes. Loose pipes will create a big bang sound at even the smallest shock wave once you shut your water off.

Although the small shockwave itself is unlikely to cause any damage to your pipes, the clanging sound of pipes will likely become annoying over time, so it’s important to tighten your pipes to prevent this from happening.

Another common reason why water hammers occur is due to full air chambers. In some homes, particularly older homes, the water supply system may have air chambers that are designed to have air bubbles to absorb shock and limit damage to pipes and fixings.

Air chambers are typically near the faucet or water inlet valve, but over time, these chambers can fill up with water. Without the small air pocket, the shock of high-flowing water can only be absorbed by the pipe structure itself, resulting in a loud bang.

What Can Happen If I Have Water Hammers?

What happens after a water hammer will depend on a variety of factors including the age of your pipes, how lose your fixings are, previous damage and the severity of the shock wave. Here’s a complete guide to what may happen following a water hammer:

Pipe Fractures

In severe water hammer cases, shock waves can cause fractures in your pipe work. This may be especially prevalent if you have previous pipe damage such as the effects of corrosion or older pipes. Pipe fractures will eventually cause either small or large leaks in your plumbing system, which can impact your water pressure, cause property damage and so much more.

Pump And Flow Damage

Continual water hammer shock waves can have a devastating impact on your pump and flow system. In some cases, repeated shocks will damage gasketed joints, leading to severe pipe wall damage. Affecting the structural integrity of welded joints in this way can lead to significant property damage that may be very expensive to repair or replace.

Property Damage

Water hammers, if left untreated, can result in significant external property damage. This is because even minor leaks in your water supply system will eventually find their way into other parts of your home and damage electrical systems such as light fixtures and cables.

Additionally, continued exposure to water will eventually corrode structures over time, leading to significant property damage that can be very stressful to manage.


Water hammers can result in a serious health hazard, especially to repair and maintenance personnel. If the shock wave is large enough, the shock can send damaged or loose fixings flying, resulting in a significant safety hazard to anyone conducting repair works on these pipes.

If leaks are left untreated and begin to damage other parts of the property, repairs and maintenance professionals may be exposed to slip hazards or even electrocution.

Are There Different Types Of Water Hammers? If So, What Are They?

There are a couple of different types of water hammers that you may experience in your home. These are steam-flow-driven water hammers and condensate-induced water hammers.

It’s important to understand the difference between the two as each produces different strength shock waves that can damage your water supply system in several ways. Here’s a brief guide to the two types of water hammers:

Steam-Flow-Driven Water Hammer

A steam-flow-driven water hammer is referred to as an ‘impact event’. This means that a portion of very rapidly moving water makes an impact with a solid object or obstacle such as a valve or fixing.

As this is an impact event, the loud thud that you may hear during a steam-flow-driven water hammer is the sudden exchange of energy and momentum that inflicts a significant psi number on the area.

Condensate-Induced Water Hammer

A condensate-induced water hammer produces a more powerful water hammer that can have catastrophic impacts on a water or steam supply system. This event occurs when a pocket of steam breaks down rapidly into a liquid state after being surrounded by cooler condensation.

If there’s a drastic difference in temperature, the sudden reaction and extreme reduction in volume generate a void of low pressure that allows pressurized condensation to move rapidly through the pipe. This over-pressurization puts extreme pressure on gaskets, fixings and valves and usually leads to total failure in the system.

How Can I Fix Water Hammers?

Fixing a water hammer can be tricky, and it’s important to determine the cause of the water hammer before you conduct any repairs yourself. To do this, you can contact a fully qualified plumber in Oshawa from Caldwell Plumbing.

We can help you determine the cause of your water hammers and conduct vital maintenance and repair works to ensure you don’t suffer any long-term consequences like catastrophic leaks and property damage.

Tighten Existing Pipes

Another way you can reduce the impact of water hammers is to tighten and reinforce existing pipes. This is beneficial for lower-impact water hammers that don’t immediately cause significant damage.

Tightening your pipes will stop the impact from causing the pipes to clash against each other, reducing noise annoyance from your water supply system. You can also consider using foam pipe insulation around your existing pipes to absorb shock. You can also install additional straps where pipes cross to reduce pipes rattling against each other.

Reset Your Air Chambers

It’s very important to retain the air pockets in your water supply system to absorb shock from water hammers. If you think that your air chambers are filled with water, you can easily reset this. To do this, shut off your water supply and drain your pipes by running your faucets. This will drain the excess water from your pipes and reinstate air pockets for shock absorbance.

Install A Water Hammer Arrestor

Considering installing a water hammer arrestor is one of the best long-term solutions to stopping water hammers. A water hammer arrestor provides an air or gas chamber in the water supply line that is sealed fully by a piston.

This piston will move to absorb the shock of water hammers and keep your pipes safe from potential shock-induced damage. Because the water, air or gas are separate, there’s no danger of this chamber ever flooding, meaning this is a useful long-term preventive measure for vulnerable systems.

Looking For High-Quality Plumbing Services In The Oshawa Area? Contact Caldwell Plumbing Today!

Are you looking for excellent plumbing services in the Oshawa area? Look no further than Caldwell Plumbing. Our high-quality plumbing work coupled with our exemplary customer service ensures that we leave our clients with a smile on their faces.

We’re 100% committed to keeping you safe from water hammers and can conduct vital maintenance or repair work to ensure you don’t suffer any long-term effects from water hammers. To find out how we can help you, contact us today!