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Water Hammer: Why Your Plumbing Is Making Weird Sounds


Is there a knocking sound coming from inside your walls? Don’t fret, it’s not a ghost demanding entry to your home. But it is something that requires your attention. That knocking is coming from your plumbing, and it’s often referred to as water hammer. Don’t ignore it. It’s a clear sign that you need a plumber.

What Makes the Water Hammer Sound?

No one is actually hammering in your plumbing, so why does it sound like someone is? The technical term is hydraulic shock. Sudden changes in pressure and temperature inside your pipes can cause a banging noise. The most likely reason for this is an issue with the water heater. If your water is heated to too high a temperature, or too quickly, it can evaporate into steam. Your pipes are not designed to handle the radical expansion that water undergoes when it turns into steam, and the heat and pressure will send shockwaves through the system. The pipes will be forced to expand rapidly, and then they will contract when the temperature and pressure go down. 

Other issues that can cause the sound include plumbing that was poorly installed to begin with or a buildup of mineral scaling from calcium, magnesium, and/or iron in hard water. You see, there is supposed to be air inside your plumbing. It creates a sort of cushion which usually prevents the shockwaves from being severe enough to cause major rattling or loud noises. But when something interferes with that and prevents the air cushion from forming, the full impact of these pressure changes can be felt—and heard. 

Is Water Hammer a Serious Problem?

On one hand, water hammer is a symptom. It indicates that a problem already exists, probably with your water heater. Because of this, you already know that you need a plumber in Pottstown, PA. But on the other hand, you should keep in mind that water hammer is also a potential cause of other problems. If it’s allowed to continue, it will put strain on your pipes. The extreme fluctuations of temperature and pressure and the sudden expansion and contraction are not good for the materials your plumbing is made of or for the connection points where pipes are joined. It increases the risk of corrosion and cracking and, ultimately, serious water leaks.

In addition to burst pipes, these high-pressure jets of water (and possibly steam) can cause damage to appliances and plumbing fixtures. And the movement of the pipes can cause them to rattle, doing further damage to the pipes themselves and also to the structures of your home that they might bang against. 

If you’re hearing sounds in your plumbing, reach out for professional assistance before the problem gets any worse. A qualified plumber can determine whether the issue is being caused by your water heater or something else. Whether the fix is an adjustment to your water heater’s aquastat or a flush of all your pipes to eliminate mineral scaling, we’ve got you covered. 

Contact Platinum Plumbing & Heating, Inc. today to schedule an appointment with our pros.

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