Is There Air in Your Plumbing Pipes?

Are you hearing loud noises coming from your pipes? Don’t ignore these noises! Strange noises from your plumbing system is a sign that something is wrong. One possible reason for those noises is that there is air trapped in the pipes.


Air Hammer vs. Water Hammer

Before you go blaming trapped air for your noisy pipes, you need to know that there are multiple reasons why your pipes might be making loud noises. It could simply be that a pipe has gotten loose from its connections and is rattling around each time you use the water. You’ll probably be able to isolate this noise to a specific location though. If you have loud noises like a jackhammer coming through all of your pipes, then it is probably due to air hammer or water hammer.

Air Hammer

Air hammer is caused when air bubbles get trapped in the plumbing pipes. Because the air pockets are compressed from the pressure of the water, they can make loud noises as they travel through the plumbing system. You will probably have splutters of air coming out of your faucets when you turn them on. You will also hear the loud noises of air hammer when you turn on the water suddenly. By contrast, if you turn on the water slowly, then you probably won’t hear the loud noises.


Water Hammer

With air hammer, you will hear the loud noises when you turn on the water. With water hammer, you will hear the loud noises when you turn off the water. This is because water hammer occurs when flowing water is stopped suddenly (when you shut off the valve). The water is stopped dead in its tracks and comes banging against the pipes with a big thud. The water can rattle back and force in the pipes, causing a jackhammer like sound. Try closing the water valve slowly; if you don’t hear loud noises when you close the valve slowly but do hear the noises when you close the valve quickly, then water hammer is to blame.

Fixing Air Hammer

Once you’ve diagnosed the problem as air hammer, you can fix the problem by bleeding air out of your pipes. This is a fairly simple job but it does require you to be thorough so you get all the pipes. You might want to call in a professional plumber to fix the air hammer. Because air hammer is more common in older plumbing systems, it would also probably be a good time to have your plumbing system inspected.