How Do Faucets Work?

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  • Whenever you need to take a bath or wash your hands, water is available immediately via the use of a faucet. A simple twist or lift of the handle releases a gush of water. While it may not be immediately clear why the water comes out of the tap instantaneously, the mechanics behind faucets are very simple.

Inside the Pipes

  • If you were to puncture the piping that leads to the faucet, you would quickly discover that there is water always circulating throughout the plumbing. You would also realize that the water is kept under intense pressure. In fact, many modern home plumbing systems have water pressure of 125 pounds per square inch. When a liquid is kept under pressure, its first inclination is to move to an area of lower pressure when the opportunity arises.

Faucet Components

  • Inside of the faucet, three main parts are at work. The first component is the pipe that leads in from the water source to the faucet. The second part is an apparatus that involves a passageway and a stopper. The stopper is equipped with a rubber washer and it can either close or open the flow of water. Thirdly, a short piece of pipe extends between the passageway and the outlet of the faucet.

Pressurized

  • The first pipe that is connected to the water source is where the water is kept at a high pressure. To release the pressurized water, the stopper that is covering the hole is lifted. The more the stopper is lifted, the faster water comes out of the outlet of the faucet.

Twisting Mechanisms

  • The mechanics behind how the stopper is lifted depends on the type of faucet. The two most common types of faucets are the ones that twist open and the ones that lift open. Handles that need a twisting motion are connected to the plugging mechanism with a spiral device that allows it to slowly twist into the hole. Moving only a fraction of an inch for every revolution of the handle, twist-based facets make it easy to control the flow of water.

Lifting Mechanisms

  • Faucets that are lifted use the same concept, only the plugging mechanism goes straight up-and-down instead of easing its way into the gap. Although these work equally as well in terms of releasing the water, lift-based facets aren't nearly as precise.

Motion Detector Faucet

  • A relatively new type of faucet is the motion detector facet. These faucets release a stream of water for a short period of time once it has detected motion. Despite the difference, the basic principles are the same, with the human aspect replaced with an extra mechanism that raises and lowers the stopper automatically.

  • Photo Credit Flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/grytr/312929043/
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