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Mr. Mike
Mr. Mike, Civil Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
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How do I remove air from my plumbing pipes It sounds like ...

Customer Question

How do I remove air from my plumbing pipes? It sounds like a whale any time I shut the water off.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Mr. Mike replied 9 years ago.
The sounds you hear when you shut off the water are probably NOT caused by air in the lines. Air that enters the lines, for example when the water is shut off, almost always is expelled when the water is run sufficiently long.

You are probably suffering from what is called "water hammer".

Your pipes may be rattling or rubbing as a result of the normal surge in water pressure, or there could actually be "water hammer" occurring.

Rarely, when a house's water pressure regulator fails, the higher pressure - and thus the higher surge pressures - the house experiences causes pipe noise. Using a pressure valve, check - or have your plumber check - the water pressure in one of your hose fittings, or in the kitchen cold water line. Your local water company can tell you what your water main pressure is, and the company or your plumber can tell you what your household water pressure should be downstream of the pressure regulator.

What is FAR more likely is that you have a case of "water hammer". Water hammer occurs when a length of water in a pipe accelerates or decelerates quickly. It can create a pressure surge in a pipe larger than you would expect for the quantity and pressure of water delivered in your system.

There are two steps to cure the noise. Each water line under your house, and in your walls, should be secured to a sound piece of structural wood, usually your floor joists or wall studs, with a metal strap every 3-4 feet.

The straps prevent the pipes from rattling against the wood, which creates a rattling sound. Don't tear open your wall just yet, but check (or have your plumber check) to be sure the straps that ARE accessible are installed and tight. If they are not, the first step is to complete the strapping.

The second thing you can do is to acquire, or have your plumber acquire, two or three water hammer dampeners. These look like a small pipe, 9 to 12 inches long. Inside is a column of air and a pressure plate. When these dampeners are attached to your outside hose fittings, the column of air in each dampener absorbs most if not all of the water pressure surges, which in turn reduces the tendency of your pipes to rub or rattle. This is actually a fairly inexpensive step to implement.

I would be quite surprised if these two steps don't cure your situation.