Water hammer or banging pipes aren’t just annoying they’re a warning of bigger problems

Water hammer or banging pipes aren’t just annoying they’re a warning of bigger problems

What is water hammer?

Water hammer or banging pipes are differing faults with your water reticulation system.

In theory, you should never hear the sound of water moving through your hot or cold water pipes. All you should ever hear is the water flow from the tap or fixture in the room it’s installed in.

Essentially water hammer is a shock wave created inside your piping.

What causes water hammer?

Plumbing is essentially the movement of water through pipes. It, therefore, has the potential to be noise creating and create what is referred to as water hammer. 

Water hammer that is noticeable occurs with copper water pipes. But plastic water pipes also suffer from water hammer, and it’s just harder to hear it.

Water hammer audible noise in copper pipes is generated primarily by:

  • High water pressure

  • Quick closing mixer taps

  • Quick closing solenoid valves

  • Faulty or worn brass seats in taps

  • Broken tap washers

  • Airlocks in pipes

  • Shock waves in pipes

Common noise complaints

There are four very common noise complaints with water pipe reticulation systems being:

  • Sharp banging or hammering sounds coming from pipes

  • A series of loud bangs when the washing machine or dishwasher is in operation

  • A loud bang from a valve or tap

  • Audible ticking sounds that diminish after the tap is turned on

An intense banging or hammering is a result of faulty valves, defective mixer taps, defective solenoid valves, broken taps or broken tap washers or poor clipping of pipes.

A series of loud bangs while you are using the washing machine or dishwasher is caused by the instantaneous opening and closing of the solenoid valves in the machine as it traverses through its cycle.

Excessive water pressure can accentuate all of these causes as water pressure legally cannot exceed 500kPa inside the building.

The ticking sound can build up then diminish and are in fact the sounds generated by pipe expansion. This is caused by the pipe heating up when the hot tap is turned on as the hot water replaces the cold water and then cools down.

Water hammer is a shock wave

Water hammer will occur much more if your pressure is excessive. The common causes of water hammer are quick closing mixer taps or solenoid valves on washing machines and dishwashers.

In the picture above the shock wave is generated at the face of a quick closing mixer tap because the flow of water moving under pressure is stopped suddenly by the instant turning off of the mixer tap. The shock wave then ricochets back from the face of the mixer tap cartridge, through the stationary water in the pipe.  The shock-wave creates enormous pressure moving at 1280 meters per second through the pipe.

This same effect is replicated more intensely by the solenoid valves in your washing machine and dishwasher as unlike mixer taps they instantly open and shut as you machine moves through cycles.

Water hammer is an early warning alert

All of the sounds or the audible noise commonly referred to as water hammer tend to be highlighted in copper water pipes. Water hammer still exists in plastic piping systems, but it is diminished significantly as the plastic pipe absorbs the sounds.

Your plumbing reticulation pipes, taps, valves and appliances are all susceptible to damage caused by the impact of shock waves even if you hear no noise.

The noise is essentially an early warning system telling you to rectify the problem before damage occurs.

Water hammer is avoidable

Water hammer is avoidable and can be rectified regardless of whether you have copper or plastic water reticulation piping.

Banging or noisy pipes usually occur when the water reticulation pipes have not been clipped correctly as per AS/NZS 3500.1 : 2018 when the house was originally constructed. This can be much more challenging to rectify compared to water hammer.

To prevent damage to plumbing pipes, taps, fixtures, hot water valves and appliances both the noise element and shock wave element of water hammer need to be eliminated.

The noise element is auditory. The loud bang of water hammer when you turn off a tap or your washing machine is running alerts you to water hammer problems. Without the noise, there will be no indication of a problem until the damage is caused or your home is flooded by a burst flexihose or appliance hose.

The elimination of the water hammer eliminates the shock waves which impose undesirable stresses on reticulation pipes, flexihoses and appliances.

How much will a leak add to your Gold Coast water bill?

How much will a leak add to your Gold Coast water bill?

Whywait Plumbing how to read your water meterYour Gold Coast water bill issued by the City of Gold Coast as a Water and Sewerage Rate Notice arrives every three months. Currently, every water meter is manually read every three months with your Gold Coast water bill coming soon after. The cost of water is set every year as part of the budget process with the detailed current water pricing for 2020-21 available from Gold Coast Water.

What are the costs on your Gold Coast water bill?

For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly Gold Coast water bill are their sewerage and water access service charges. If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following access charges:

Residential Charges Cost
Sewerage access charge per quarter

$181.03

Water access charge per quarter

$53.02

Total Access Charges per Quarter

$234.05

The usage charges per kilolitre as measured by your water meter are made up of council charges and Queensland Government charges as below:

Residential Charges Cost

City of Gold Coast water per kilolitre

$1.090

Queensland Government water per kilolitre

$3.122

Total Cost of Water per Kilolitre

$4.212

In reality, even if you did not use one drop of water, you would still pay for water and sewerage access service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.

In our experience, the average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property is not an accurate guide to your water use. Most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. Remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day, and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption but will also alert you to a potential water leak.

The real cost of water dripping from a tap

What will cause your usage charges to blow out is having leaking water. Leaking taps and toilets are frequently overlooked and put off to another day. A dripping tap that drips one drop every second will use 40 litres of water a day. The reality is that it becomes 280 litres a week and then 1214 litres a month and then 14560 litres a year. This is all water charged for on your Gold Coast water bill that you never utilised for any useful purpose.

If we translate the litres wasted to the cost of water, then the numbers become real.

Cost of a Dripping Tap at 1 drip per second Residential Cost at $4.212 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.662 per kL or 1000 litres

1.66 litres per hour

$0.007

$0.014

40 litres per day

$0.169

$0.347

280 litres per week

$1.180

$2.425

1214 litres per month

$5.114

$10.516

14560 litres per year

$61.327

$126.119

The real cost of a leaking underground water main

A dripping tap or running toilet you can visually sight but the real killer to your Gold Coast water bill is your underground water main pipe leaking. For residential users, these are usually leaking polypipe water mains that were never installed correctly when the house was built. Only occasionally is a water leak apparent and bubbling to the ground. Most of the time they are a silent Gold Coast water bill killer leaking 24/7 undetected.

There is no real average for any leaking water main because it depends on the type of break in the pipe and what the incoming water pressure is.  Currently, we have a small leak where we have water monitoring installed that is leaking on average of 44 litres per hour, so we use that as a basis for what a leaking water main will cost on a Gold Coast water bill.

Cost of a leaking underground water main at 44 litres per hour Residential Cost at $4.212 per kL or 1000 litres Business Cost at $8.662 per kL or 1000 litres
44 litres per hour

$0.185

$0.381

528 litres per day

$2.223

$4.574

3696 litres per week

$15.568

$32.015

16016 litres per month

$67.459

$138.731

192192 litres per year

$809.513

$1664.767

A leak at 44 litres per minute is only a small leak. It is highly unlikely to show up bubbling to the ground unless it is directly under the grass in a shallow trench. Even looking at your water meter, it will not be evident unless you are testing your water use at the meter by checking for a water leak.

How much does a leak cost per litre

We have always recommended that you test your water usage through your water meter every month. By having comparable figures, you will soon ascertain whether you have a leaking pipe.

We have always recommended that you install an AquaTrip water leak detection system after your water meter. An AquaTrip Water Leak detection system with an integrated automatic shutoff valve supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing is a permanently installed leak detection protection system that quietly protects against leaks 24/7. It is a one time only insurance payment.

With our modern leak detection methods, it’s a much easier job to find a leak but unless you have an AquaTrip installed or use our water monitoring service you will still pay for a lot of lost water before you become aware of the leak.

If you think you have a leak contact us because every litre that you lose is costing you $0.004212 for residential properties or $0.008662 for businesses on your Gold Coast water bill. If you believe that is inconsequential, we have just rectified a leak for a business client that was in a 40mm underground pipe that was leaking 96 kL every day, which is 96000 litres every 24 hours. This leak was costing $831.55 every day.

ZeroFlush Urinals Aid Water and Energy Sustainability

ZeroFlush Urinals Aid Water and Energy Sustainability

Zeroflush waterless urinals installed at Brisbane International Airport by Whywait Plumbing

Zeroflush waterless urinals installed at Brisbane International Airport

ZeroFlush Waterless urinals supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing are precisely what they sound like. Instead of using water to flush away the urine, like traditional urinals which waste anywhere up to 25 litres of water every time they flush. ZeroFlush waterless urinals utilise gravity, putting urine through an odour barrier or one-way valve system which eliminates 100% of the water from a conventional flushing process.

Replacing a water flushing urinal with a ZeroFlush waterless model can save an average of 152000 litres annually per urinal. There’s one urinal for every three toilets in non-residential properties, which together account for more than a quarter of Australia’s water consumption.

The supply of water to commercial office buildings, shopping centres, educational facilities and hotels utilises a substantial amount of energy. The simple act of installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals and the disconnection of urinals from a buildings water reticulation system can reduce by 50% a building’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Throughout Australia, water charges continue to increase annually. The advent of sewerage discharge factor charges based on the amount of water consumed is increasing in popularity. These charges alone require reductions in water consumption to avoid substantial annual increases. For commercial property managers, this means they must budget for paying for water coming into the building and also going out via the sewage system. This means the installation of ZeroFlush urinals will not only aid with sustainability but reduce water and energy costs.

The urban myth that waterless urinals are unhygienic and stink is a myth perpetuated by opponents of waterless urinals that has no foundation in fact. A recent study by th

e  Shanghai Environment Project Design Institute once again proved that waterless urinals contain five times fewer bacteria than water flushing urinals. Bacteria and germs from water flushing urinals are created by airborne fecal matter that is reproduced when the urinal flushes water. The combination of water moisture with the fecal matter creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and flourish. As waterless urinals don’t flush water every time they have been used the opportunity for bacterial and germ contamination becomes very remote.

The real reason most male bathroom facilities have putrid odours is triggered by the bacteria created from airborne fecal matter and water moisture. Urine by itself has a very soft odour but combined with the water flushing urinals spraying of water particles it can quickly create odours over the entire bathroom facility.

ZeroFlush waterless urinals are a guaranteed path to reducing water and energy consumption plus greenhouse gas emissions in any non-residential commercial building. Installing them will always help water and energy sustainability.

 

Every Flexi Hose is Potentially a Ticking Time Bomb

Every Flexi Hose is Potentially a Ticking Time Bomb

Abey polyamide hi class water hookers installed by Whywait Plumbing to eliminate a burst flexi hoseA burst flexi hose is a job we attend to almost every day. In all likelihood, you will have multiple flexi hoses in your home. They will exist commonly in both residential and commercial buildings under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom vanity basins, under the toilet cistern and under the laundry tub. Invariably when we attend to a burst flexi hose it has been damaged during installation causing kinking and has further experienced corrosion. Almost always the burst flexi hose was a time bomb waiting to happen. The braided stainless steel “simple to install” flexi hose has over the last 10 years replaced copper pipe connections to taps and toilet cisterns. Unfortunately, the braided stainless steel flexi hose has not lived up to expectations and delivered on the rust protection anticipated. In our experience, a burst flexi hose is caused by:

  • incorrect installation with multiple kinks in the braided stainless steel
  • stretching of the flexi hose to make the connection fit
  • chemical attack from household cleaners

All of the above can create the perfect storm scenario in causing the braided stainless steel to corrode and rust. It then is just a matter of time until the stainless steel braiding fails which allows for the inner liner to burst. Here at Whywait Plumbing, we are now installing a polyamide hi class water hooker from Abey Australia which is the most technologically advanced flexi hose we have seen come onto the market. The abey hi class hooker flexi hose installed by Whywait PlumbingAbey polyamide hi class water hooker cannot rust or corrode as it uses polyamide braiding that is similar to the Kevlar used in bulletproof vests. The connectors are manufactured from brass alloy so the entire flexihose will never rust even if its continually in contact with chemicals such as chlorine.

We are confident you will never experience a burst flexi hose once we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker as they literally cannot rust and cannot kink but best of all they come with a 15-year rust resistant warranty. Kinking is often the cause of a burst flexi hose but cannot occur with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker.  Kinking is simply poor installation as a result of over tightening the connector which twists the stainless steel braided hose. This over tightening creates Abey polyamide hi class water hooker installed by Whywait Plumbing does not kink so you never experience a burst flexi hosepressure and tension in the braiding which frequently results in the inner liner bursting through the braiding and rupturing. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker has a simple design to ensure that it is anti-kink. When we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we are able to use two spanners to counteract any twisting that results in kinking.

Most of the flexi hoses currently used have an inner lining manufactured from EPDM which has the potential to absorb and release harmful chemicals such as the softpex inner core in an Abey polyamide hi class water hooker installed by Whywait Plumbing ensures you never experience a burst flexi hosechlorine into your drinking water. This ability to absorb chemicals also results in a potential burst flexi hose. With the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker the inner lining is manufactured from Softpex Core. The Softpex Core inner liner gives a superior mechanical performance to EPDM guaranteeing a longer life due to its higher tensile strength, higher abrasion resistance, higher working water pressure and non-corrosiveness. The extensive age/stress testing undertaken resulted in an amazing 0% failure rate.

We strongly recommend that you get us to check your flexi hoses every year for rust and/or corrosion and that they are replaced every five years. This will give you the peace of mind in knowing that the flexi hose in your home or business is not rusting and about to explode releasing water at 25 litres every minute that it flows. Rust is the #1 enemy of a braided stainless flexi hose.
When we replace your existing stainless steel flexi hoses with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we guarantee you will get:
  • superior strength and corrosion resistance
  • tested and WaterMark approved for use in Australia
  • superior tensile strength
  • superior working water pressure
  • a superior mechanical performance with the Softpex core inner liner
  • a 15-year rust resistant warranty from the manufacturer

As always we must caution you that installing or replacing a flexi hose is not a legally compliant DIY installation and under Queensland law must be done by a licensed plumber. You need to be aware that undertaking a DIY installation has the likelihood of making your insurance coverage null and void and the manufacturer’s warranty null and void if the flexi hose bursts and causes damage. Don’t wait for the ticking time bomb of your existing stainless steel braided flexi hoses to strike! Call us now to get us to upgrade you to the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker.

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.

The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.

The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.

However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.

Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.

Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.

These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.

For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:

  • Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
  • City of Gold Coast distribution           $1.09 per k/L
  • Total water consumption charge    $4.00 per k/L 

The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:

  • water access charge of $212.08 per year
  • sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.

Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.

Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.

The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”

As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.

Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.

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