What is waterhammer?

Waterhammer is the term used to describe the noise (and sometimes movement of pipework) caused by slugs of condensate colliding at high velocity into pipework, fittings, plant, and equipment. This can result in fracture of the steam line or fittings leading to hazardous conditions, loss of steam, and downtime.

What causes waterhammer?

Waterhammer is formed when condensate is allowed to collect or stand in the steam system. This is then picked up by the high velocity steam to form a slug of water, which is propelled down the steam main at steam velocity (typically 25 m/s), as shown in the diagram below.

Condensate build-up causing waterhammer

It is important, therefore, to reduce the risk of condensate build-up through good engineering practices of the steam and condensate system.

Through steam system audits, Spirax Sarco can identify areas where waterhammer may occur and advise your Company on how to eliminate this problem.

Learn more about waterhammer and common causes in our Steam Quality tutorial.

Is waterhammer causing damage to your steam system?

Spirax Sarco have experienced engineers available to offer advice on our range of Steam System Services.

  • Arrange a visit to your plant by Spirax Sarco

  • Find out how how we can prevent and eliminate waterhammer in your steam system