Pipe Flow Calculator
Use this pipe flow calculator to analyse the properties of water flowing in a gravityfed system. You only need to know the diameter of the pipe, the material it's made of, its length, and the drop in height. We then apply the HazenWilliams equation for you, which calculates the resulting velocity and discharge. Interested? Read on to discover the formulas we use, and to see an easytofollow example calculation.
What is the gravity flow?
The gravity flow of water is when the flow of water in a pipe is caused by the force of gravity. The flow will happen as long as there is an altitude difference between the source water (upstream source) and the discharge point. There must also be no external energy (for example, from a pump) used to move the water forward.
Our water flow calculator takes into consideration the particular case of gravity flow, where the water flows in a closed pipe. Its velocity is influenced not only by the inclination and size of the pipe, but also by the material the pipe is made of  its roughness causes friction between the sides of the pipe and the water, decreasing the water speed.
HazenWilliams equation
The HazenWilliams equation is an empirically derived formula that describes the velocity of water in a gravity flow. Remember that the HazenWilliams equation is valid only for water  applying it for any other fluid will give you inaccurate results. It also doesn't take into account the temperature of the water, and is only accurate for the 4075 °F (425 °C) range.
You can write down this formula as:
v = k * C * R^{0.63} * S^{0.54}
where:
 v stands for the velocity of water flowing in the pipe (in m/s for the metric system and ft/s for the Imperial system)
 C is the roughness coefficient
 R stands for the hydraulic radius (in meters or feet depending on the unit system)
 S is the slope of the energy line (frictional head loss per length of pipe). It is unitless, but sometimes expressed in m/m.
 k is a conversion factor dependent on the unit system (k = 0.849 for the metric system and k = 1.318 for the imperial system)
You don't need to know the values of C, R or S in order to use our pipe flow calculator  we calculate them for you!
The roughness coefficient C dependents on the material of the pipe. You can pick a material from a dropdown list or input the value of C manually if you know the roughness coefficient of your flow system. We use the following values:
Material  Roughness coefficient 

Cast iron  100 
Concrete  110 
Copper  140 
Plastic  150 
Steel  120 
The hydraulic radius, R, is the proportion between the area and the perimeter of your pipe. If the pipe is circular, you will find it according to the following equation:
R = A / P = πr² / 2πr = r / 2 = d / 4
where r is the pipe radius, and d is the pipe diameter. You can view and modify all these parameters (area, perimeter, hydraulic radius) in the advanced mode of this pipe flow calculator.
To calculate the slope, S,, you need to divide the pipe length by the drop (height difference between the beginning and end points). Remember that if the pipe slope is not constant, but changes all the time, the real water flow speed will be different from the obtained result.
Once you know the velocity of the gravity flow, you can also find the discharge, Q, by multiplying the crosssectional area of the pipe by the flow speed:
Q = A * v
Make sure to use our flow rate calculator to convert between the discharge (volumetric flow rate) and the mass flow rate.
Velocity of water flow in a pipe: an example
Let's use the pipe flow calculator to determine the velocity and discharge of a plastic pipe, 0.5 feet in diameter. The pipe is 12 feet long, and the difference in height between the beginning and end points of the pipe is equal to 3 feet.

Divide the diameter by 2 to find the radius of the pipe.
r = d/2 = 0.5 / 2 = 0.25 ft

Find the crosssectional area of the pipe.
A = πr² = π * 0.25² ≈ 0.1963 ft²

Determine the perimeter of the pipe.
P = 2πr = 2π * 0.25 ≈ 1.57 ft

Divide the area by the perimeter to find the hydraulic radius of the pipe.
R = A/P = 0.1963 / 1.57 ≈ 0.125 ft

Pick "plastic" from the dropdown list and write down its roughness coefficient.
C = 150

Divide the drop by the length of the pipe to calculate the slope.
S = y / L = 3 / 12 = 0.25

Use the HazenWilliams equation to find the velocity of the gravity flow.
v = 1.318 * C * R^{0.63} * S^{0.54} = 1.318 * 150 * 0.125^{0.63} * 0.25^{0.54} = 25.23 ft/s

Multiply this value with the crosssectional area of the pipe to find the discharge:
Q = A * v = 0.1963 * 25.23 = 4.95 cu ft/s
That's it! You just found the speed and discharge of a gravity flow.