When you first hear the term ‘water hammer,’ you might think that it’s a generic term used to describe pipe clatter, but it’s not. It’s a very specific plumbing noise/issue, which occurs when the water is shut off suddenly and brought to an abrupt stop. When it hits the blockade, it elicits some sort of a shock wave and makes the characteristic hammering noise.
A blockade is just one of the many possible causes of a water hammer. Another culprit is a higher-than-normal water pressure, which can bang on the metal at any time. Residential plumbing systems will normally have some sort of mechanism to counteract the excessive pressure, and act as a shock absorber to take the force. When these components are either absent or failing, water hammer ensues.
Most of the time, water hammer is due to the plumbing system’s chambers being waterlogged. This is especially true in cases where the problem happens suddenly. Water hammer can be dealt with by simply turning off the water source behind the waterlogged compartment, which opens up the blocking faucet to let it drain thoroughly.
Another solution is quite complicated, though it is considered one of the most effective: installing arrestors. These devices work by trapping air within the water pipes in order to cushion the shock. Professional installation is due for this.