The Mystery of the Water Hammering

DN Staff

December 6, 2012

2 Min Read
The Mystery of the Water Hammering

My wife and I like to visit certain family members, and since they live rather far away, we stay in their home while we visit. The days are filled with activity, and the evenings are generally spent talking until all hours of the night.

One night while we were talking, we heard a noise. It sounded like someone rapping on the wall or floor. It lasted for about 10 to 15 seconds, and was loud enough to interrupt the conversation. After the noise stopped, we looked at our family members and asked, "What was that?" Their reply -- "No one knows."

The noise had apparently occurred since the day they moved into the house. It usually only happened at night, and never lasted long enough to locate the culprit.

It was evidently a water hammer. The homeowners had called a plumber to check out the house's plumbing. The plumber changed the supply water pressure valve, installed a pressure tank, and rechecked the manifold supplying the water. No change. The water hammer was coming from somewhere, but the possibilities were endless.

The next morning, I was in the bathroom, and heard the toilet valve open and shut in rapid succession. I ran downstairs, did the noise just happen? The toilet tank flapper valve was leaking, and when the level dropped, the valve opened slightly, then shut again quickly as the water level forced the bobber up again.

They replaced the tank level bopper with a different style, and the problem disappeared.

This entry was submitted by Doug Corbett and edited by Rob Spiegel.

Doug Corbett is a graduate of BYU College of Engineering. He spent five years in electronics manufacturing, and for the past eight years has worked with temperature measurement and radiography as the non-destructive test/quality department for a domestic thermocouple cable manufacturer. Doug's five children think an engineer is the best person to have as a dad because no math problem is too hard, and all broken toys can be fixed.

Tell us your experience in solving a knotty engineering problem. Send stories to Rob Spiegel for Sherlock Ohms.

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