The Threat of Water Hammer


In applications where steam flow is modulated to a heat exchanger, there is constant threat of condensate back-up leading to dangerous consequences such as water hammer or corrosion of tube bundles and coils. Water hammer has the potential to rupture valves, pipes, and fittings. While damage is most often caused by repeated occurrences of water hammer, sometimes damage can be immediate and catastrophic, and sometimes harmful to employee safety.

Drain condensate from the heat exchanger under all operating conditions, eliminate stall problems, and optimize system efficiency with a condensate recovery system. Armstrong International offers a family of condensate recovery equipment and Mead O’Brien has the application expertise to increase the efficiency of your condensate system without compromising safety.

Returned condensate is resourceful and economically smart. Armstrong’s condensate recovery systems also help reduce fuel and energy costs, boiler water make-up and sewage treatment as well as boiler water chemical treatment.

View the live water hammer demo from Mead O’Brien’s steam lab to understand the concept of differential shock created by too much undrained condensate traveling at low velocity in piping where steam is also traveling at high velocity. When the wave action created by the different velocities is able to bridge the internal diameter, cumulative slugs are formed traveling at the higher velocity until they meet the resistance of downstream fittings or equipment. Just remember, the video shows this effect at atmospheric pressure. Just imagine the effect at much higher pressure!

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