Faucets: How They Work

Every time you wash your hands or do the dishes you use a faucet. But have you ever wondered how it contains all that water pressure? If you put your thumb over the faucet you can't stop the flow. Try it and you will probably get a good soaking. Well, here is how it is done:

How a Faucet Works

In an open faucet the water flows through two chambers separated by a hole. Most watertowers exert tremendous force on the water in its system. Water can be under pressure that exceeds 100 pounds per square inch.

Most faucets use a screw device to regulate the flow of water. When it is turned, it forces a washer down into the hole between the two chambers. As the washer begins to close the gap it slows down and then finally stops the flow. It is the screwing action coupled with the lever action on the handle of the faucet that makes turning it off and on so easy.

When leverage on the handle turns the screw, the washer is forced down a fraction of an inch at a time. Only side-way force (such as you might place on the handle) can push the washer back because friction is created at the point where the screw meets the threaded faucet. The water then is held in check in the pipe until the handle is again turned in the opposite direction.

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