Home > Taming The Surge: How To Stop Water Hammer In Your Sprinkler System

Sprinkler system water hammer may sound like a small-scale plumbing nuisance until you’ve experienced it in the context of your sprinkler system. Abrupt surges of water, sudden shut-offs, and the unsolicited symphony that usually accompanies the whole ordeal can wreak havoc on your irrigation setup. But fear not, valiant homeowner, for we’re about to tame the beast that is water hammer and provide you with a toolkit to exorcise it from your sprinkler system. Learning how to stop water hammer is easy with this easy-to-follow guide. 

hand turning knob on outdoor faucet

What Is Sprinkler System Water Hammer?

Water hammer in your sprinkler system occurs when you abruptly stop the flow of water—like when you turn your sprinkler system off—and momentum carries the water rushing forward into a closed valve or pipe end. This creates a shockwave that can be heard as a loud BANG! in your pipes. To give a more technical definition, water hammer is the generation of a pressure surge that is caused when a fluid in motion is suddenly forced to stop or change direction.

Why is Water Hammer a Problem for Your Sprinkler System?

Water hammer might seem like just an annoyance, but over time, it spells trouble. This surge of pressure, if allowed to persist, can lead to pipe failure, cracked valves, and even damage to your sprinkler heads. The consistent battering of water hammer can lead to expensive repairs and a less efficient irrigation system.

Water Hammer When Sprinklers are Turned Off: The Routine Offender

The On/Off cycle of your sprinklers is a water hammer catalyst. When you shut them off, the fast-acting solenoid valves close immediately, causing the water’s momentum to slam into the closed valve and create that telltale ‘hammering’ noise. This isn’t just hard on your ears—it’s hard on your equipment.

Stopping Irrigation System Water Hammer

Let’s discuss some common – and some uncommon – solutions to lay your water hammer situation to rest. Some solutions might require extra time, but the peace of mind will be worth it. Let’s investigate. 

Shock Arrestor to the Rescue

One of the most effective ways to combat water hammer is by installing a device called an anti-hammer or shock arrestor. These can be installed at the source of the water or next to the problem area, offering a cushion for sudden water surges.

Pressure Regulators: The Secret to Keeping the Peace

Pressure regulators are designed to maintain a consistent water flow, preventing any pressure buildup. These are particularly helpful if your water pressure tends to vary widely, common in many older homes and neighborhoods.

Control Valve Action Speed

Another DIY solution involves adjusting the speed at which your control valves shut. Slower closures allow the water to come to a stop more gradually, lessening the impact and reducing the potential for water hammer.

conbraco control valve

The Silent Hope of Air Chambers

Though a simple and old-fashioned solution to water hammer, air chambers can be quite effective. They are vertical pipes which are capped at one end to create an air pocket, absorbing the shock from the water, and preventing it from reaching your fixtures.

Sprinkler System Water Hammer Arrestors

Water hammer arrestors are in many ways the modern version of air chambers. They are sealed units containing a piston and air to absorb the pressure waves, acting as a buffer when water flow is abruptly stopped. Arrestors are engineered with precision, employing advanced technology to effectively dissipate the energy and shock waves resulting from an abrupt water flow stoppage within your pipes.

Keep Your System in Top Shape

Regular maintenance on your sprinkler system, including checking for leaks and ensuring all parts are in good working order, can prevent water hammer from escalating into a critical issue. It’s also worthwhile to consider a professional assessment if you’re consistently dealing with water hammer problems.

The Calm After the Storm

Implementing one or a combination of these strategies can bring peace to your yard, allowing you to enjoy the efficiency and convenience of your sprinkler system without the ominous echo of water hammer disturbing the tranquility.

From the installation of specialized devices to simple, periodic check-ups, your pathway to combating water hammer is as diverse as it is effective. For the enterprising homeowner, a customized approach may be the key to silencing the echoes of water hammer once and for all.

Water hammer is disruptive, but with a bit of knowledge and a dash of resourcefulness, you can bring your sprinkler system’s hydraulic orchestra under control. Remember, a sprinkle of preventive care goes a long way in avoiding the tidal waves of damage that water hammer can cause. With these insights, prepare to bid adieu to the stressful ‘BANG!’ that signals the end of a watering cycle, and welcome in the peaceful serenade of a sprinkler system that’s cared for and calm.

Now that you’re fitted with your water hammer survival guide, it’s time to go out and regain your peace of mind – while you still can. For further intel on water hammer and how to ensure your sprinkler system is really going with the flow, contact our Customer Support team. Happy watering, Irri-Gators!