What is water hammer?
Water hammer is a phenomenon that can occur in any piping system where valves are used to control the flow of liquids or steam. Water hammer is the result of a pressure increase or high pressure shock wave that propagates through a piping system when a moving fluid is forced to change direction or suddenly stop . This shock wave is also commonly referred to as hydraulic shock or hydraulic surge and can be characterized by a loud banging or popping noise on the pipes immediately after stopping. Water hammer can occur when an open valve suddenly closes, causing a water hammer or when a pump suddenly stops and the flow reverses its direction towards the pump.
Because water is incompressible, the impact of the water causes a shock wave that travels at the speed of sound between the valve and the next bend in the piping system or in the water column after the pump. Water Hammer The Effects of Water Hammer Although it may seem and sounds harmless, the force of impact on the valve, caused by the amount of movement of the fluid, What is water hammer can create pressure spikes that can exceed ten times the operating pressure of the system. These sudden interruptions in flow and the resulting increase in shock wave pressure can cause significant damage to the entire piping system due to a single event or be cumulative damage that occurs at the over time. Ignoring water hammer can eventually lead to catastrophic failure of your flow system. Long-term effects of water hammer can include: Damage to the pump and flow system Repeated water hammer can also cause significant damage to pumps, existing valves and tools, resulting in catastrophic damage to seal and expansion joint failures and compromising the integrity of pipe walls and welded joints.
Leaks Water hammer can damage fittings, seals and connections, causing leaks. These losses often start slowly, gradually increasing in intensity over time. Small leaks can go undetected for some time, leaving surrounding equipment susceptible to damage. Broken Pipes Broken pipes due to pressure spikes are particularly expensive to repair. Rupture leads to failure of local piping and can lead to failure of the entire system and other equipment.
The resulting damage can be significant and often involves major replacement operations. Damage to external properties If left unchecked, water leaks can damage electrical equipment and/or lead to corrosion of equipment or infrastructure. Accidents Burst pipes can also endanger the health and safety of employees and maintenance personnel. Depending on the industry and the specific installation, unmanaged leaks can also increase the risk of slips, falls, and electrocution. Downtime/Maintenance Physical damage can result in expensive equipment repairs or replacements.
Other financial losses can also occur due to downtime required for maintenance, repairs or installations. As you can see, it is essential to take immediate action at the first signs of water hammer. Failure to do so will result in damage to the entire system and could spread beyond the flow system to other facility equipment or infrastructure. Preventing Water Hammer A major contributing factor to water hammer can be the choice of type of check valve. Types of valves, such as flapper, tilting disc, or piston check valves, rely on gravity and reverse flow to return the valves to the closed position.
This causes the water to slam into the valve mechanism, creating a pressure wave that propagates through the piping system. Quiet or spring-assisted check valves, on the other hand, have an internal spring that silently moves the valve to the closed position before the flow reverses, reducing or eliminating the possibility of water hammer. Inner tubes are also an effective shock solution.'Aries. These systems consist of a short segment of pipe, usually T-shaped, with an empty/air-filled chamber that acts as a cushion (damper) for the expansion of water when it suddenly changes direction. This reduces the magnitude of the shock that would otherwise be directed to the pipeline.
Other effective water hammer prevention methods include: Flushing old systems Installing pressure reducers and regulators in the supply line Reduce operating pressure Invest in piping systems that include air chambers as part of the design Reduce pressure severity with quiet check valves
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