Hydraulic shock in the pipeline – causes and consequences

Hydraulic shock, also called water hammer, is a common but inconvenient issue that can arise in home plumbing systems. This phenomenon usually occurs when a valve or faucet is abruptly closed, sending a wave of high pressure through the pipes. Water flow is abruptly and violently stopped, causing a shift in momentum that may sound like a loud bang. Not only is this sound startling, but it may also be the initial indication of possible plumbing damage.

Hydraulic shock is typically caused by issues with the plumbing controls for water in your house. Often the culprits are fast-closing valves, like those found in dishwashers and washing machines. The problem is made worse by inadequately fastened pipes or by the lack of equipment intended to absorb and lessen these shock waves, which causes the energy from stopped water to tremble and smash pipes against walls and other structures.

Ignoring hydraulic shocks can have serious repercussions for the longevity and integrity of your plumbing system. This constant, abrupt pressure has the potential to cause leaks, burst pipes, and appliance damage over time. In more serious situations, it could result in structural damage to your house if you don’t take immediate action. By identifying and resolving the underlying causes of hydraulic shock, one can avoid expensive repairs and guarantee a plumbing system that is more stable and quiet.

Nature of hydraulic shock in pipelines

A shock wave known as a "hydro-impact" travels along the water pipe’s surface and strikes the fittings’ components. Pressure is positive when it rises and negative when it falls. appears when a tap is suddenly closed or filled with water. The primary cause of this phenomenon’s destructiveness is the liquid’s incapacity to contract.

For example, if water could be compressed multiple times like a gas, the sudden increase in pressure would not cause the pipes to burst. Hydrostroke can also be caused by other phenomena in the water supply system, but excessive pressure is the result of abrupt stops in liquid movement.

Hydraulic shock, commonly referred to as water hammer, occurs in pipelines when water abruptly stops or changes direction, causing a surge of pressure that can lead to loud noises and potentially severe damage to the plumbing system. This phenomenon typically results from the rapid closing of valves, faulty pump operations, or sudden stops in water flow, which sends a high-pressure wave through the water in the pipes. The consequences can range from annoying banging sounds to significant structural damage, including burst pipes and damaged appliances, leading to costly repairs and disruptions in water service. Understanding the causes of hydraulic shock is essential for homeowners and maintenance personnel to implement preventive measures, such as installing air chambers or pressure-regulating devices, to mitigate its effects and protect the plumbing infrastructure.


The most common cause of hydraulic shock is sudden shut-off of shut-off valves. The pressure in the plumbing system is constant when water flows through the pipes and pours out of the tap, but it can increase several times when the valve is suddenly closed. As a result, the pipe walls burst because they are unable to withstand the pressure.

Hydrostroke may also result from:

  • Abrupt switching on or off of a powerful pump.
  • Air plugs present in the plumbing or heating circuit.

In places with strong water pumping stations, an object’s erratic power supply may cause the pump to abruptly turn on and off. Additionally, air locks are not the last location where such a hazardous phenomenon can occur, so you should ensure that all air has been removed from closed systems before using liquid in them.


Repetitive exposure to the high pressure that follows a hydraulic shock can cause even highly dependable systems to lose their tightness. Another possibility for pipe rupture is a single, powerful hydraulic shock.

The water supply to the items to which the water pipe is connected is totally cut off as a result of such an impact. Regretfully, the effects of this phenomenon extend beyond the mere lack of water in the faucet.

If a pipe bursts in an apartment building, the liquid that seeps into the living area will damage both the apartment owners’ belongings and those of the neighbors on the floor below.

When a major water supply pipe that serves an entire city district bursts, the incident is automatically classified as an emergency.

Since all toilet bowls are powered by the cold water supply pipe, residents of dozens of apartment buildings will be left without both drinking water and sewerage as a result of such an incident. Even with an intact hot water pipeline, taking a shower is also unlikely to be feasible.

A hydraulic shock can cause damage to a hot water pipe, which can result in serious burns in addition to other material losses. Depressurization of the heating system, in which the coolant is constantly under high pressure and the liquid temperature exceeds +70 degrees Celsius, can be especially dangerous.

Hydrostroke can have extremely terrible effects in large-diameter pipelines located in urban areas. Significant liquid flow frequently results in the paralysis of a road segment, in addition to potential injuries to pedestrians near the accident scene, particularly when the section is utilized by vehicles with electric traction for passenger transportation.

It is crucial to understand how to stop a sudden spike in pressure in the pipelines because the consequences of hydrostroke can cause serious harm.

Hydraulic shock, also referred to as water hammer, is a serious problem that can cause major issues with home plumbing systems. An abrupt stop in water flow from a suddenly closed faucet can send a wave of pressure through the pipes. In addition to making a loud banging sound, this phenomenon may put stress on pipe joints and fittings, which over time may cause leaks or even bursts.

The high velocity at which water is compelled to stop or change direction is typically linked to the causes of hydraulic shock. This can occur when toilets flush or in homes with rapidly closing valves, like those in dishwashers and washing machines. Particularly susceptible are older plumbing systems without contemporary fixtures made to withstand such shocks. Ignoring this problem can have expensive and disruptive consequences that range from small leaks to significant water damage.

Homeowners can install devices that help to mitigate sudden changes in water pressure, such as pressure-reducing valves or water hammer arrestors, to prevent hydraulic shock. In order to find and fix any possible weak points in the plumbing system before they cause damage, routine maintenance inspections are also essential. Homeowners can prolong the life of their plumbing systems and prevent needless damage to their properties by being aware of and managing the causes of hydraulic shock.

In the end, hydraulic shock can cause serious plumbing problems, so even though its noise level may make it seem like a minor annoyance, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Keeping your home safe and functional requires taking proactive measures to address this problem. The key to avoiding the expensive effects of water hammer in residential plumbing is awareness and prompt action.

Video on the topic

Hydraulic shock in the pipeline

Hydraulic shock in the pipeline, what it is and how to protect against it. Water hammer damper

What is hydraulic shock

Hydraulic shock, demonstration of the force of hydraulic shock.

What is hydraulic shock? // Practical Engineering

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Sergey Ivanov

I like to help people create comfort and comfort in their homes. I share my experience and knowledge in articles so that you can make the right choice of a heating and insulation system for your home.

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