Question: In my home I get a resonating sound that I have been told is water hammer. This can occur by flushing a toilet, or sometimes even by the movement of the water in the tank. Occasionally, however, it also happens after running the kitchen sink, or a shower. Is there a solution to this problem?

Answer: The solution is to install an air-gap or air-chamber in the pipes (both hot and cold water lines). Here's how you do it as a retrofit:

  • Check to see if the pipes are properly supported and secure (in the basement, crawl space, or attic). If not, secure them with straps or anchors as recommended by the manufacturer. For details, check with your local hardware or lumber store for the correct hangers.
  • Your home's water heater should have a hot and cold water line coming out of the top. Remove the lines and attach a "T" connector to the top of each pipe. You should now have a horizontal and a vertical opening for both the hot and cold water. On the top of each "T" connector, attach a short pipe, perhaps 12 inches long, that is capped at one end. Your hot and cold water lines can then be reconnected to the remaining openings on the "T" connectors.

    When you are finished, your water heater will have two short pipes sticking up that are capped on the ends. The hot and cold water lines will enter and exit the water heater from the side of the "T" -- instead of directly from the top as they do now. This arrangement creates an air-chamber which provides the water with a place to expand when the valves are shut-off suddenly ... instead of banging the pipes.

  • You might also replace your sink and toilet valves with slow-closing valves that don't shut-off suddenly. Ask your plumbing supply house about these.

    Question: We have a problem with venting our new dryer. Because of its location in the middle of the house, there is no way to vent to the outside. The last thing I want to do is harm my brand new dryer and our health.

    Is there a way to vent the dryer through the roof? I assume that first a hole must be cut in the drywall to run the dryer duct. But what do I do when I get to the horizontal board above the studs?

    Answer: I strongly encourage you to take on this project. The hazards created by venting a dryer into a living space are many and often dangerous to the occupants.

    There are dryer vent ducts that are designed to go through the roof. Ask your hardware store or lumberyard for details.

    Cutting through the "horizontal board" (aka: Top and Tie Plates) of the wall will usually not be an issue unless it is a bearing wall -- meaning that it carries the weight of the ceiling or floor joists or rafters above. If your home has roof trusses, (as most homes constructed in the last 25 years do) interior walls are usually not bearing walls.

    If the wall is not a bearing wall then remove the drywall for one stud bay, cut out the top and tie plates, and install the ducts recommended by your hardware supplier. Be sure to purchase proper flashing for the roof penetration to prevent leaks. Then caulk the roof flashing, patch the drywall, tape and texture, paint, and you’re finished.

    Plan about a week total for the project so that your drywall repairs have time to dry between coats.

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