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Quieting Noisy Water Pipes

Did you ever turn off a faucet only to experience sounds and vibrations similar to those produced by a three-point earthquake?

Imagine a fast moving stream of water traveling down a narrow pipe. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the water finds a closed valve in place of what, moments earlier, was an escape point. All of a sudden, the water has nowhere to go, and water doesn't compress. As it comes to an abrupt stop, a loud thud results that can be heard throughout the entire house. This deafening sound is known as a water hammer. The hammering action that creates the horrible racket is actually capable of damaging joints and connections in the pipe.

Why doesn't your plumbing system make a loud noise each and every time a fixture is turned off? First of all, not every water valve closes quickly. In fact, most valves close slowly enough to prevent water hammer. However, as gaskets in a faucet get old and brittle, they can cause the faucet to close more quickly -- and a water hammer can result.