Waterhammer Solutions - Background
When water flow is started or stopped faster than the system can respond acoustically, a pressure surge commonly referred to as a waterhammer event will occur. This same principle is also applicable when the flowing medium is steam rather than water. In the case of steam, the pressure surge is known as a steam hammer event. Both water and steam hammer events have the potential to cause catastrophic damage.
Waterhammer events are transmitted through the system at the speed of sound of the water-pipe combination. For water in a steel pipe, this is essentially the speed of sound in water (~4600 ft/s or 1400 m/s which is close to 1 mile/s). With this high transmission velocity, pipe segments are loaded in a highly transient manner causing them to shake. As a consequence, significant dynamic loads can be transmitted to the piping supports as well as the system components, i.e. valves, instrumentation, etc.