Since about two weeks ago, whenever someone shuts off the kitchen
faucet on the first floor, the pipes throught the house, all the way
up to the third floor, experience quite a jolt. Since this started
happening abruptly, does that mean that something has come loose
somewhere? And should I be concerned about it?
Many thanks in advance,
It is called water hammer and since it started happening suddenly I
would suggest two possible problems.
Most likely in this case would be one or more loose pipe hangers. One
loose in the wrong spot can cause a lot of noise. My second choice would be
a anti-hammer device going bad. Usually they would go bad over time and not
suddenly, but I believe it would be possible for it to be a sudden thing.
Try this. First turn off the main water line in the home. (Note: in
rare cases this valve may stick, don't force it.) then turn on the kitchen
faucets and the lowest faucet you have, like in the basement, to drain some
water out of those pipes (both the hot (most likely) and the cold. While
you are down in the basement look for loose supports. After you drain the
pipes, turn the water supply back on and start closing the faucets starting
in the basement.
If that does not do it have someone turn that kitchen faucet on and off
while you follow the pipe and the sound to see were the pipe is moving and
Sounds like either the supply pressure from the city if you're on a
municipal supply or your pressure regulator valve stuck open if you have
one. Water hammer indicates high pressure; check it first.
But if it hasn't been an issue previously, it's a good indication there
may be a pressure problem now...it's the first thing to check as I said.
If that turns out to not be a problem, then the next step is to see if
there are any accumulators in the system or not -- most houses don't
have any and are fine w/o them. If OP's is in that category, he didn't
have hammer before and does now, then they're not the culprit--may as
well find that out before searching further.
Again, if there has not been an issue of water hammer before and there
now is, increased pressure from a stuck reducing valve is a condition to
check. BTDT, didn't print the t-shirt.
I have nowhere said there is any cause other than the cessation of
flow--the deal is, high pressure increases flow.
It's possible that you have air chambers in your plumbing that have
become filled with water so they aren't doing their job. Air chambers
aren't complicated, just a T fitting and an extra length of vertical
pipe above a sink etc. connection that ends with a cap. The air trapped
in the pipe that goes nowhere acts to cushion any water hammer. Over
time the air in the air chamber pipe could dissolve into the water in
the pipes. The solution is to drain all of the water pipes completely,
than turn the water back on to refill and you are all set. Always turn
the water on slowly when refilling house pipes and bleed the air slowly
at the faucets until all of the air is gone.
Draining and refilling would only sold the problem if the original
plumbers did leave air chambers in the pipes inside the walls.
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