How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 109

I was wondering about the change in pipe sizes within a house. In many cases, water pipes coming to a house are very large, only to drop to small pipes when they reach the house. Does this mean that the water from the water company is slow velocity, high pressure, and houses turn this water into fast velocity, low pressure?
Yes, but the effect is not so extreme. As the water from the water company enters the narrower pipes in your house, it does have to speed up slightly and its pressure does drop slightly. But its pressure is still well above atmospheric pressure. However, the fact that the water must move faster through the narrower pipes in your house means that this water loses energy relatively quickly in your house. And the more water you draw through your house's plumbing, the larger the fraction of its energy it loses. That's why drawing a huge amount of water out of one faucet will diminish the flow through another faucet—increasing the flow by opening that first faucet wastes the energy of the water reaching the second faucet and it flows out more slowly.

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