What is water hammer?


Cause and effect

 

When a pipe is suddenly closed at the outlet (downstream), the mass of water before the closure is still moving, thereby building up high pressure and a resulting shock wave. In domestic plumbing this is experienced as a loud banging resembling a hammering noise. Water hammer can cause pipelines to break if the pressure is high enough. Air traps or stand pipes (open at the top) are sometimes added as dampers to water systems to absorb the potentially damaging forces caused by the moving water.

 

On the other hand, when an upstream valve in a pipe closes, water downstream of the valve attempts to continue flowing creating a vacuum that may cause the pipe to collapse or implode. This problem can be particularly acute if the pipe is on a downhill slope. To prevent this, air and vacuum relief valves or air vents are installed just downstream of the valve to allow air to enter the line to prevent this vacuum from occurring.

 

Other causes of water hammer are pump failure and check valve slam (due to sudden deceleration, a check valve may slam shut rapidly, depending on the dynamic characteristic of the check valve and the mass of the water between a check valve and tank). To alleviate this situation, it is recommended to install non-slam check valves as they do not rely on gravity or fluid flow for their closure. For vertical pipes, other suggestions include installing new piping that can be designed to include air chambers to alleviate the possible shockwave of water due to excess water flow.

 

Mitigating measures

 

  • Reduce the pressure of the water supply to the building by fitting a regulator. Lower fluid velocities.
  • To keep water hammer low, pipe-sizing charts for some applications recommend flow velocity at or below 1.5 m/s (4.9 ft/s)
  • Fit slowly closing valves.
  • Air valves often remediate low pressures at high points in the pipeline. Though effective, sometimes large numbers of air valves need be installed. These valves also allow air into the system, which is often unwanted.
  • Shorter branch pipe lengths.
  • Shorter lengths of straight pipe, i.e. add elbows, expansion loops. Water hammer is related to the speed of sound in the fluid, and elbows reduce the influences of pressure waves.
  • Arranging the larger piping in loops that supply shorter smaller run-out pipe branches. With looped piping, lower velocity flows from both sides of a loop can serve a branch.

 

 

Date source:Wikipedia

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