Cavitation is the formation and subsequent collapse or implosion of vapor bubbles in the pump. It occurs because the absolute pressure on the liquid falls below the liquid's vapor pressure.

When the vapor bubbles collapse with enough frequency, it sounds like marbles and rocks are moving through the pump. If the vapor bubbles collapse with enough energy, they can remove metal from the internal casing wall, and leave indent marks appearing like blows from a large ball pein hammer.

This book is dedicated to pumps but we should mention that cavitation could occur in other parts of the pumping system. Under the correct circumstances, valves and pipe elbows are also candidates to suffer damage from cavitation.

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