Fix Loud Rattling Pipes
LESLIE: WAMO! We’ve got Charlene from Pittsburgh coming up. What’s going on with your pipes?
CHARLENE: Every time I turn the water off, you hear this big D-D-D-D-D-D-DOOM!
LESLIE: (chuckling) You do that really well.
TOM: Could you do that one more time?
CHARLENE: (laughing) D-D-D-D-D-D-DOOM! (laughter)
TOM: Ah! Now I know exactly what it is. (laughing)
CHARLENE: I mean it really rattles. It’s just like it’s – something’s busted and stuff, you know? (laughter)
TOM: Yeah, you know, Charlene? As loud and noisy and scary as that is, it has a simple answer. It’s called water hammer. And the way it happens is when you turn your water faucet on, all of that water is rushing through that pipe on its way to the spigot. Then you turn it off and the water has all this centrifugal force; it wants to keep going. And so it sort of hits a wall and bounces back and that shakes the pipes and that’s what’s called water hammer. There’s a device called a water hammer …
LESLIE: Hammer arrester.
TOM: That’s right. There’s a water hammer arrester. It’s like a shock absorber for your plumbing system that will reduce that noise dramatically. And the other thing is if the pipes where they’re rattling, if they’re accessible – like they’re going through the crawlspace or basement or a place where you can get access to them – you can put additional brackets to support them to the frame of the house. Because some of that rattling is just because they’re not supported well. But those two things will quiet that down. And Charlene, the one thing you should know is don’t worry about it too much because even though it sounds terrible, it almost never causes a problem with the plumbing. In the worst case scenario, it could, you now, shake something loose but, frankly, I have heard that in so rare a circumstance that I wouldn’t worry about it.
CHARLENE: OK, well listen. One more thing. Can I get this arrester at Home Depot?
TOM: Yes, I’m sure you can buy a water hammer arrester at any good home improvement store, but you probably are going to need to have a plumber install it because it involves tapping into your plumbing system.
Charlene, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.