Identifying the Causes of Water Hammer and How to Best Deal with It



Have you realized lately that your sprinkler makes odd noises? The sound might be water hammer although there could be other causes of this noise. One factor that could be creating such a noise is air contained/trapped in the water pipes, that often cause the same noise that water hammer effect gives. A few times, I’ve dealt with a situation whereby I can heard this “thumping” sound coming from the pipes, and have often thought what’s causing that? Based on my previous experiences, I have developed the below tutorial, where I will walk you through the steps of how to be identify the possible causes of the noise, I will finally then suggest some ways to fix these noises.

Pinpointing the Problem:

Firstly, you’ll need to check your home’s water pressure. For this, you will just need a pressure gauge (can be found at most home improvement stores or hardware stores) and then attach your gauge to your washing machine’s cold water outlet. Next, turn off water for any appliance that uses water in the house (don’t forget the washing machine). This will include all ice makers, faucets, ensure toilets aren’t filling and water purifiers (the reverse-osmosis types). Lastly, switch on the water faucet on which the gauge is attached to and get the water pressure reading on the gauge.

In case the water pressure is lower than 50 PSI, this generally does not indicate water hammer, in which case you will need to check and look for loose pipes. Loose pipes at times can “bump” into  each other, and thus producing the thumping noise. If it is loose pipes, expect the sound to become progressively louder as you get closer to the source. Begin by paying attention to the source of the sound and then checking for anything loose. Checking for loose items avoids a situation where you have to spend a lot of money fixing what you believed to be water hammer issues, only to find out that it was just a foam between 2 pipes, which believe it or not, can cost as little as only 50 cents to fix.

 Air inside the Pipes:

If the cause of the noise is air in the pipes, there are basically two ways of getting the air out. You either need to push the air out by increasing the velocity or speed of water, or opening the pipe so that the air is released.

 In order to push air out of the pipes, you will need to increase the water speed temporarily to the point where the water will be able to “sweep” out air bubbles. Increasing water velocity requires turning on as many outlets of water as you have. This leads to high water demand, which results into velocity going up. As water rushes through the pipe, the air that is trapped inside, will be swept away and out the pipe.

 In case of air being in the irrigation mainline, you can increase the speed or velocity of water through manually opening at least two (2) circuit valves at the same time. It is important that you learn important valves terminology to get acquainted with the various types of valves.

 You can open majority of electric irrigation valves manually through twisting a lever beneath the solenoid of the valve. Alternatively, you can partially unscrew the bleed screw that is normally found on the top part of the valve. Take care not to remove bleed screw, but turn it slowly until such a time that the valve opens. You can open all the valves at one go if you wish to. Allow the water to run for some time to enable it push out all air.

 When closing the valves, make sure you close them one by one. If you close all of them at once, it can result to a pressure surge that may even cause damage to your irrigation system. You need to be warned that the valves could take a considerable length of time before closing although it is fairly normal if you open more valves at a go.

 So the next time you hear a thumping or clicking sound, hold the phone! It may not be all that bad, i9t could be something that you can easily fix without calling costly plumbers.

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