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Fluid Mechanics Laboratory

Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management

California State University, Long Beach

Lab # 1
Fluid Statics and Manometry
(Prepared by Dr. Rebeka Sultana)
The purpose of this experiment is to demonstrate both visually and numerically the behavior of
liquids under hydrostatic conditions. The students will learn basics of reading liquid surface level
and apply hydrostatic principles to measure static pressure using manometers.
General Discussion
Reading liquid surface level
Either fluid is hydrostatic or in motion, measuring liquid level is required to determine the flow
depth or pressure head. Immersing a scale in liquid or attaching the scale to the side of a
transparent vessel or tank is the simplest way to measure liquid/water level relative to some
datum, such as the base of the tank. Changes in liquid level can be recorded by taking repeated



Figure 1. Meniscus and potential error to read liquid level due to meniscus


measurements using the scale.

When recording liquid level measurement, it is important to view the surface of the liquid
correctly relative to the scale because the meniscus that forms around the scale due to surface
tension. Meniscus is shown in Figure 1 which must be ignored to record the accurate value.
There can be reading error from parallax if the scale is not directly adjacent to the liquid. If the
eye is below the true liquid level and looking upwards, apparent reading on the scale will be
lower than the true reading because of parallax. When eye is above the liquid level and looking
downwards, apparent reading will be higher than the actual liquid level. This effect increases
with distance from the liquid to scale. So, it is important to maintain the correct eye level when
level is read.

Figure 2. Examples of reading Vernier scale


To increase precision in reading Vernier scale has been developed which allows to read
measurements at 1/10th accuracy level. Example of how to read Vernier scale is shown in Figure
Hydrostatic Pressure
Atmospheric pressure acts on the top of a liquid surface that is static in a reservoir. But, the
pressure increases at the bottom of the reservoir because of gravity. This pressure is not
influenced by the shape and size of the tank or reservoir in which the liquid is retained. Figure 3
shows the pressure on top of the tank is po and at h unit below the free surface the pressure
increases by following the hydrostatic equation:
p p o h


Figure 3. Fluid pressure in tanks with various shapes (Munson et al., 2012).
If the pressure varies from atmospheric pressure, then additional force works on the liquid.
Pressure difference can be measured by recording the liquid level difference in a U-tube
manometer as shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4. U-tube manometer with the left-leg closed and pressurized

If the pressure difference is small, then h in Figure 4 can be small and difficult to read the value
with accuracy. For smaller differential pressure change (i.e., liquid level change), inclined
manometer can be used. Inclined manometer (shown in Figure 5) which improves visual
resolution depending on the angle of inclination.

Figure 5. Inclined manometer

The relationship between vertical and inclined height can be defined by the following

h L sin


Therefore, the hydrostatic pressure can be derived as:

p h gh


p gL sin



p = pressure at the datum
= density of the liquid in the manometer
g = acceleration due to gravity
L = Distance change along the inclined scale
= angle of inclination of the inclined manometer
When the manometer is inclined at 30o, then vertical level change of 1 unit is magnified by 2
units in the inclined manometer (i.e., Sin30o = 0.5 and 1/0.5 = 2). With 60o inclination, then 1
unit vertical level change is magnified by 1.155 times (i.e., Sin60o = 0.866 and 1/0.866 = 1.155).

Figure 6. Fluid Static and Manometry Apparatus (a) without labels, and (b) with labels
F1-29 Armfield apparatus (shown in Figure 6) will be used for this experiment which consists of
the following:

A reservoir (label 2)
U-tube differential manometer
3 fixed tubes, the tube in the right has variation of x-section (labels 13 and 11)
Inclined manometer (can be adjusted to preset angles of 5o, 30o, 60o, and 90o to the
horizontal) and
A Vernier scale positioned on top of the reservoir.
A color dye will be used to improve visualization of the effect of hydrostatic pressure.

This experiment has three exercises.
Exercise 1: Measuring liquid level
(a) Using a level scale
1. Place the F1-29 (Fluid Statics and Manometry) apparatus on a hydraulic bench. Adjust
the feet, if necessary, to level the apparatus using the circular spirit level attached at the
base of the F1-29 unit by bringing the bubble in the spirit level at the center.
2. Keep the outlet valve at the front of the reservoir fully closed.
3. Connect the flexible filling tube to quick release connector at the base of the reservoir.
Connect the other end of the flexible filling tube with the outlet of the hydraulic bench.
4. By keeping the valve in the hydraulic bench completely closed, start the pump in the
hydraulic bench.
5. Slowly open the valve and with a low flow fill the reservoir to a depth approximately 200
or 300 mm. Turn off the pump in the hydraulic bench
6. Ensure the serrated ferrule at the top of the reservoir and each individual tube is open to
atmosphere and not connected with any tapping.
7. Level your eye with the surface of the water in the reservoir. Observe the difference
between the water level in the middle and at the meniscus adjacent to the wall. Use the
front scale of the reservoir to record the depth of liquid level.
8. To understand reading error from parallax, raise your eye level by approximately 100 mm
and observed/record the reading of the water level.
9. Lower your eye level by approximately 100 mm and observe/record the liquid level
change due to parallax.
10. The correct liquid level record is the one that you have recorded when your eye was
leveled with the free liquid surface.
(b) Using a Vernier scale
1. By holding the vertical rod, use the coarse adjustment rod to slide the rod up and down to
adjust the position of the point gauge. When the tip of the point gauge touches the liquid
surface, use the adjustable stop to lock the position of the vertical rod. Figure 7 shows the
Vernier scale with hook and point gauges.

Figure 7. Vernier scale with the point and hook gauges.

2. Measure the liquid level surface when the tip and its reflection just touch. If the liquid
touches the tip then surface tension will attach the water to the tip and prevent an accurate
measurement. In this case, use the fine adjustment nut to raise the point gauge just above
the liquid level.
Exercise 2: Free Surface Demonstration
1. Ensure the serrated ferrule at the top of the reservoir and each individual tube is open to
atmosphere and not connected with any tapping.
2. Connect the flexible tube with the quick release connectors at both ends from the base of
the reservoir to the connector at the base of the U tube and leave the tube connected.
3. Observe that the tubes of U-tube and vertical tubes fill to the same height and settle at the
same height as in the liquid in the reservoir.
4. Next, open the valve at the base of the reservoir and allow the liquid from the reservoir to
fill in the tubes at the right hand side of the apparatus.
5. Open the valve at the base of the reservoir and allow liquid to flow into the vertical tubes.
Observe that the liquid level in all the tubes is the same even if the cross-sectional areas
of the tubes are different. Record the liquid surface levels in the reservoir, U-tube and in
the vertical tubes.


6. To observe how liquid level adjusts in an inclined tube (the right most tube from the
reservoir), pull the indexing knob forward and then inclined the tube to an angle of 60o
above the horizontal and push the indexing knob back in to secure the tube at this angle.
Record the reading in the inclined tube.
Note: The indexing knob can be only fixed at the fixed angles. If the knob is pushed at an
angled position but does not secure, that indicates, the tube is not at one of its fixed
angle. Then move the tube up and down to find out the angled position.
7. In the similar process, position the inclined tube to an angle of 30o above the horizontal.
Observe the distance travelled by the fluid along the tube. Note that the meniscus is
severely deformed by inclination and so care should be taken to record the accurate
reading. Record the reading in the inclined tube.
Note: If any tubes do not fill to the same height as the liquid in the reservoir, then there
might be trapped air in the flexible tubing connected with the tube. To remove this
trapped air, connect a flexible tube with the serrated ferrule at the top of the tube.
Connect the syringe at the other side of the flexible tube and force the liquid up until the
air bubble is dislodged.
Exercise 3: Effect of changes in air pressure
1. Ensure that liquid level in all the tubes is same as is in the reservoir. This is done by
keeping all the serrated ferrules open to atmosphere. Keep the inclined manometer at 60o
angle with the horizontal



Figure 8. Applying pressure in the reservoir by a syringe (a) depress the plunger, and (b)
withdraw the plunger


2. To apply pressure in the reservoir, attach one end of one of the flexible tube to the
serrated ferrule at the top of the reservoir. Attach the syringe (with the plunger
withdrawn) on the other side of the flexible tube and apply pressure in the reservoir by
depressing the plunger. This will lower the fluid level surface slightly in the reservoir and
the levels will rise to a common height in all of the other tubes including the piezometer
tube inside the reservoir as shown in Figure 8:
3. Record the height difference between the liquid surface in the reservoir and the
4. Next reduce the pressure in the reservoir by first disconnecting the syringe and allowing
all the tubes to return to the same level. Reconnect the syringe (with the plunger
depressed) to the other end of the flexible tube similar to step 2 (see Figure 8). Withdraw
the plunger which will reduce the pressure in the reservoir less than atmospheric. So, the
fluid level in the reservoir will slightly increase and in the manometer the level will
5. Record the height difference between the liquid surface in the reservoir and the
6. To observe how pressure change will affect the liquid level in the U-tube, connect the
reservoir and the U-tube by connecting the flexible tube with the connectors at the base
of the reservoir and the U-tube. Keep the valve at the end of the reservoir open. Then
apply pressure on the right leg of the U-tube and record the level difference between the
liquid levels in the two legs of the U-tube as shown in Figure 9a. Note that because of
applied pressure in one leg of the U-tube, liquid level in other leg of the U-tube as well as
in the reservoir changes because of the connection between the U-tube and the reservoir.



Figure 9. Applying pressure in the U-tube (a) connected to the reservoir, and (b) not
connected to the reservoir


7. Next remove the flexible connector between the reservoir and the U-tube, and apply
pressure on the right leg of the U tube like in step 6 (Figure 9b). Note that the liquid level
in the reservoir will not change this time. Record the liquid level difference between the
U-tube legs.
8. Similarly, pressure can be applied to any one of the tubes and difference in liquid level
can be studied. Keep the valve open at the end of the reservoir and connect the U-tube
with the reservoir using the flexible connector. Apply pressure to two independent fixed
tubes (Figure 10) using Y adaptor and record the liquid level difference in the tubes. Also
observe the change in liquid levels by reducing the pressure by withdrawing the plunger
in the syringe.

Figure 10. Applying pressure in the fixed tubes using Y flexible tubes.
Record the experimental data in Table 1.
1. For inclined manometer, convert the inclined height to vertical height using Equation 2.
2. Calculate the air pressure applied in the reservoir, U-tube and fixed tubes using the
vertical height change in the liquid level. Use Equation 3 and 4.
Discuss your results by addressing the followings1. Discuss advantages and disadvantage (in terms of accuracy) of different methods of
liquid level measurement.
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2. Compare the liquid levels in the reservoir, U-tube, fixed tubes, and inclined tube and
confirm that surface of water is always horizontal. Discuss how liquid level changes in
the inclined tube but vertical height remains the same.
3. Comment on the effect of change of pressure in the reservoir, U-tubes and fixed tubes.
Discuss the amount of level change in the tubes of different sizes.

Armfield, 2012, Fluid Statics and Manometry, Instruction Manual.
Munson, B. R., T. H. Okiishi, W. W. Huebsch, A. P. Rothmayer, 2012, Fundamentals of Fluid
Mechanics, 7th edition, John Wiley, Chapter 10.

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Table 1. Fluid static and manometry data

Liquid level measurement using a level scale

Liquid level (mm)

Eye at the liquid level

Eye 100 mm below the liquid level
Eye 100 mm above the liquid level
Liquid level measurement using Vernier scale

Liquid level (mm)

Point gauge
Hook gauge
Free surface Demonstration

Liquid Level (mm)

Vertical height (mm)

At Reservoir
Fixed tube
Inclined tube at 60o
Inclined tube at 30o
Pressure change in the reservoir Level change in the
reservoir (mm)/Pressure
change P (kN/m2)

Level change in the U tube

(mm)/Pressure change P

Apply the pressure

Reduce the pressure
Pressure change in the U-tube

Level change in U-tube

(mm)/Pressure change
P (kN/m2)

Level change in Reservoir

(mm)/ Pressure change P

Level change in the legs


Level change in the U-tubes


connection with the reservoir

No connection with the reservoir
Pressure change in the two
fixed tubes
Apply pressure
Reduce pressure

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