After our master bathroom was remodeled a couple of summers ago, we noticed a loud banging sound in the bathroom wall every time we flushed the toilet.  It was particularly noticeable when we flushed the toilet in the master bathroom, but we heard the same type of banging sound (just not quite as loud) when we flushed the toilet in the bathroom on the 3rd floor (which is directly above the master bathroom).  We knew it was water hammer related to movement in the pipes when the toilets stopped filling after a flush, but we had just come home from the hospital with Haley and were in the bleary, tired days months that follow having a new baby so we didn’t do anything about it right away.  When we finally did get around to thinking about fixing it, it turned out to be such a simple solution that I thought it was worth sharing.

First, here’s a picture of the wall behind the shower before it was finished and tiled:

There’s definitely a lot going on in this wall – some interesting framing, cut off pipes that we think used to be for radiators, a vent pipe for the upstairs bathroom, a bunch of wires, and two new copper pipes that provide hot and cold water to the upstairs bath.  We actually had those copper pipes installed while this wall was opened up for the master bath remodel – they run all the way from the basement to the 3rd floor and replaced the last of the old galvanized plumbing in the walls (we still have some that’s a lot more accessible in the basement, which we’ll get around to replacing some day).  It was definitely a change worth making while the wall was open, but, after the fact, we realized that we probably should have asked the plumbers to separate the pipes a little more and secure them in a few more spots since we’re fairly certain that their close proximity was the cause of our new water hammer issue after the remodel was complete.

Obviously, one fix would have been to open that wall back up from the other side (i.e., cut a hole in the bedroom wall) and see if we could do anything to secure the pipes a little farther apart so they wouldn’t bang together when the water shut off … but that was pretty invasive.  Instead, we found a water hammer arrester at Menards, which we could connect directly to the toilet tank.  Here’s a link to the one we bought.  For less than $20, we figured it was worth a try.

Chad installed it on the bottom of the toilet tank and (like magic) flushing the toilet no longer woke up everyone in the house at night.

I was a little concerned at first that it would be really obnoxious hanging from the bottom of the toilet tank, but, considering that most people aren’t normally crawling around on the floor looking up at the toilet from this angle, it really isn’t that noticeable – it definitely isn’t as obnoxious as the pipes banging in the wall every time the toilet is flushed.

Since it worked so well in the master bathroom, we went back later on to buy another one for the toilet on the 3rd floor and our pipes have been nice and quiet since.  Obviously, the ideal solution would be to not have movement in the pipes to start with (or at least to not have them installed so closely together in the wall), but the water hammer arresters turned out to be a great after-the-fact fix that doesn’t force us to remember there is so much plumbing behind the tub wall every time someone uses the bathroom – and that’s good enough for us!

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