August 2003

Engineering Case Histories

Case 16: A piping failure due to water hammer

System upsets can develop high piping loads

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

New plant piping systems designed by piping designers using experience and sophisticated analysis tools rarely fail when operated within the design envelope. Problems occur with "add on" systems that seem to grow over the years. When there is a system upset, poorly restrained piping can move and impact supports or other piping. This case examines a pipe that fell off an overhead rack during such an upset. It broke the support and developed a hydrocarbon leak. The failure investigation team wanted to know what caused the pipe to move and the support to fail. Fig. 1 is a simplistic sketch that shows how the pipe l

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