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Water Hammering

Understanding and Stopping Water Hammer A Comprehensive Guide

Water hammer, a common plumbing issue, can cause significant damage to your pipes if not addressed promptly. This phenomenon, characterized by loud banging noises within the plumbing system, occurs when a fluid in motion is forced to stop or change direction suddenly, causing a pressure surge. This article will delve into the causes of water hammer, its effects, and various methods to stop and fix it, including specific approaches suitable for the UK market.

What is Water Hammer?

Water hammer, also known as hydraulic shock, occurs when a valve is suddenly closed at the end of a pipeline system, causing a pressure wave to propagate in the pipe. This sudden stoppage or change in water flow can lead to a series of loud, banging noises. If left unchecked, water hammer can cause pipes to vibrate, leading to potential damage such as leaks or bursts.

Causes of Water Hammer

  1. Quick-Closing Valves: Appliances with solenoid valves, such as dishwashers and washing machines, that close quickly can cause water hammer.
  2. High Water Pressure: Excessively high water pressure can exacerbate the effects of water hammer.
  3. Long Straight Runs of Pipe: Pipes without adequate support or without bends to absorb shock waves can amplify the effects of water hammer.

How to Stop Water Hammer

Addressing water hammer involves several strategies to reduce or eliminate the pressure surges in your plumbing system. Here are some effective methods:

1. Install Water Hammer Arrestors

Water hammer arrestors are devices specifically designed to absorb the shock wave caused by sudden water stoppage. They can be installed near valves or appliances that frequently cause water hammer, such as washing machines or dishwashers.

2. Reduce Water Pressure

High water pressure is a common culprit behind water hammer. Installing a pressure reducing valve (PRV) can help lower the pressure within your plumbing system, mitigating the risk of water hammer. Ideally, home water pressure should be between 40-60 psi.

3. Check and Secure Loose Pipes

Pipes that are not properly secured can move and vibrate when water flow is abruptly stopped, leading to water hammer. Inspect your plumbing system to ensure all pipes are firmly secured with appropriate brackets or clamps.

4. Use Air Chambers

Air chambers are vertical pipes installed near water valves that can absorb the shock wave created by water hammer. Over time, these chambers can fill with water and lose their effectiveness, so they may need to be drained occasionally.

Water Hammer Fix Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re experiencing water hammer and want to address it yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the main water supply to your home to prevent any water flow.
  2. Drain the system by opening all faucets starting from the highest point in your home (usually an upstairs bathroom) to the lowest (typically a basement or ground floor faucet).
  3. Check and secure pipes by adding pipe supports or cushions if necessary.
  4. Install water hammer arrestors at problem points, such as behind washing machines or under sinks.
  5. Turn the water supply back on slowly to prevent any sudden pressure changes.

How to Stop Water Hammer in the UK

In the UK, dealing with water hammer follows similar principles, but there are specific products and services that might be more readily available. For instance, Ecofix Plumber, a UK-based plumbing service, specializes in eco-friendly plumbing solutions and can provide tailored advice and installation of devices like water hammer arrestors and pressure reducing valves.

Professional Help

If DIY methods do not resolve the issue, it may be wise to consult a professional plumber. In the UK, services like Ecofix Plumber can offer expert solutions, ensuring your plumbing system is free from water hammer and operates efficiently.

Water hammer is more than just a noisy inconvenience; it can lead to significant damage if not properly addressed. By understanding the causes and employing the appropriate fixes, such as installing water hammer arrestors, reducing water pressure, securing pipes, and utilizing air chambers, you can effectively stop water hammer. For residents in the UK, consulting with professionals like Ecofix Plumber can provide specialized and sustainable solutions to this common plumbing issue.

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