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Test Your Knowledge: Steam Line Water Hammer


Test Your Knowledge: Steam Line Water Hammer

 

Steam line water hammer can best be prevented by...

A. keeping steam pipes drained and insulated

B. replacing all 90 degree elbows with capped tees

C. always opening steam valves rapidly

D. keeping steam temperature below saturation point

 

 

The answer is...

A. keeping steam pipes drained and insulated

 

One type of water hammer is Differential Shock

Steam flow over accumulated condensate can create waves that grow as they are pushed downstream. If the steam is moving fast enough and the condensate is sufficiently abundant, the waves will grow until they block the pipe completely. This traveling slug of condensate can accelerate and grow in size, stopping only when something intervenes or they're suddenly diverted by equipment or a bend in the piping. This can be a dangerous situation and can lead to catastrophic valve or fitting failure.

Differential Shock can best be prevented by reducing condensate accumulation wherever possible, both by draining the condensate from steam lines at regular intervals and at every change in elevation, and by minimizing the condensing rate with proper insulation.
 

 

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Fred Ames wrote:
Keep a close eye on mechanical projects involving new condensate runs. Contractors may not lay out the system with carefull knowledge and you may be left with a system that does not drain properly. Always walk through your projects and keep an eye on the tradesman installing the equipment.

Wed, July 9, 2014 @ 6:44 AM

2. Charlie Thomas wrote:
Great point, Fred! Differential Shock can occur in undersized or incorrectly pitched condensate return lines that contain flash steam as well.

Wed, July 9, 2014 @ 9:37 AM

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