How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

What causes a banging sound in the wall when I shut off the bathroom faucet?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What you experienced is called “water hammer.” When water flow is halted quickly, the water pressure has lots of energy that must be dissipated. If the water can bounce against an air cushion, pipes won’t pound. Most homes have anti-hammer devices installed in the water piping. Older homes have a foot-long elbow of pipe with air trapped at the top (as shown below in illustration “A”) located at one or several places in the system. New homes have a manufactured air chamber device called a water hammer arrestor (as shown in the illustration “B”). Over time, the older type of anti-hammer device can lose the air cushion in the pipe leg and no longer be effective. 

    To reintroduce the air cushion in your pipe system, do the following:

  1. Turn off the water to the home at the main shut-off valve, which is either at the water meter or where the water service enters the house.
  2. Open all faucets and allow the water to drain from them.
  3. Slowly open the main valve part way and close the faucets, one by one, as the water runs steadily.
  4. After all the faucets are running steadily, fully open the main valve.
  5. Test to see if the anti-hammer arresters are working by quickly shutting off a faucet. 

    If the above sequence doesn’t eliminate the water hammer in your pipes, we recommend calling a plumber to evaluate and repair the problem. If not fixed, repeated water hammer events will damage the pipes. To learn about water hammer arrestors, like the one shown below, that would permanently fix the problem, see our blog post What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING PIPES:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Can galvanized steel pipe still be used for new water lines in a house? 

How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house? 

Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection? 

What is the difference between green and white sewer drain pipes?

Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?

What are the abandoned pipes sticking out of the wall in my house?  

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

What is a "combination waste and vent" in a plumbing system? 

What is a building trap?  

What is a galvanized nipple?

What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

How do you accurately find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe? 

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left? 

What is a dielectric union? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

If all the plumbing drains have water in them and you can still smell sewer gas, what's causing the problem?  

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

Why is there a flexible accordion pipe under the sink? 

What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?

What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe? 

What are the pipes on my roof? 

• How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (service pipe)?

What is a P-trap?

Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?

What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? 

• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?

• Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?  

     Visit our PLUMBING page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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