What is water hammer?

Water hammer, a common issue in plumbing systems, occurs when there’s a sudden change or stop in the flow of fluid, resulting in a high-pressure shock wave travelling through the pipes. This phenomenon is often accompanied by a distinct banging or knocking sound, signalling the impact within the pipes when the flow stops. This disruptive event can lead to damage if left unaddressed.

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Effects of Water Hammer

Water hammer typically arises when valves are rapidly closed or pumps abruptly shut down, causing water to collide with the valve or reverse direction towards the pump. Because water is incompressible, this collision generates a shockwave that swiftly propagates through the pipes at the speed of sound. As a consequence, pressure spikes, sometimes exceeding ten times the system’s regular pressure, ensue.

Over time, such sudden pressure increases can inflict severe damage on the piping infrastructure. Ignoring water hammer can result in significant consequences for the plumbing system. Pumps can be damaged, leaks may occur, pipes can burst and adjacent property might suffer harm. If you need to replace damaged copper pipe and copper pipe fittings, a specialist pipe merchant such as https://watkinspowis.co.uk/products/copper-pipe-fittings-and-press-systems/ can provide the necessary supplies.

Preventing Water Hammer

According to Valve Magazine, selecting the appropriate check valve type is crucial for preventing water hammer. Traditional check valves, which rely on gravity and flow for closure, can induce water to slam into the valve, generating pressure waves. Conversely, silent or spring-assisted check valves quietly close before flow reversal, mitigating the risk of water hammer.

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Air chambers offer another effective solution for preventing water hammer. These chambers, situated within short pipe segments, contain air-filled pockets that act as shock absorbers for abrupt changes in water flow. Other preventive measures include flushing outdated systems, installing pressure reducers and regulators, reducing operating pressure and adopting piping systems equipped with integrated air chambers.

By implementing these preventive strategies, the likelihood of water hammer-induced damage can be significantly reduced, ensuring that the plumbing system operates safely and efficiently. Taking proactive steps to address water hammer can prolong the lifespan of the plumbing infrastructure and mitigate costly repairs down the line.