You probably use an O-ring of some kind at least every day, but do you know what an O-ring is or what the top O-ring uses are? Unless you’re a plumber or in a related field, we’re betting you have a few things to learn about O-rings.
O-rings are sealing gaskets that are round in both circumference and cross-sectionally. They look a little like rubber bands, but with a somewhat different shape. This shape is called a torus (informally, a donut).
Among the materials used for O-rings today are nitrile rubber, silicone, polyurethane, neoprene, and fluorocarbon. These synthetic materials have advantages over other flexible materials, like rubber.
One place you’ll find O-rings is your plumbing. There might be one in your kitchen faucet right now that you need to replace. O-rings seal pipe joints, so they don’t leak water. There’s a small groove around the joint where an O-ring is seated.
A benefit of O-rings is that if the system they’re part of comes under pressure, the ring is squeezed against the opposite wall of the groove. Therefore, it holds a perfect seal—even when pressures fluctuate.
O-rings seal gas as well as liquid storage or conduits and have numerous different applications.
Since O-rings get little notice, it can be surprising to learn all the places they can be found. The following represent a few of the industries besides plumbing that use o-rings and how they use them.
From automobiles to construction equipment, o-rings can be found universally in fuel and transmission systems.
O-rings are used in pumps, syringes, filtration devices, and connectors to prevent leakage and contamination. In dentistry, o-rings keep liquid out of implants, thus preventing infection.
O-rings are employed throughout these industries to prevent leakage of potentially dangerous fluids in pipes, tanks, and other storage or transport devices.
O-rings seal semiconductors from potentially damaging substances, including dust.
O-rings protect food and beverage storage units from contamination and spoilage. Drinking water systems also use O-rings. Any O-ring material used in food and drink applications must be FDA-approved.
In this industry, O-rings protect both workers and the environment from hazardous chemical leaks.
O-rings are essential to the functioning of hydraulic and pneumatic power systems, O-rings help maintain the water- and air-pressure seals.
These devices do need replacement fairly often—more than most of the parts they seal (plumbing pipes, for instance).
If you’re interested in doing DIY plumbing or other projects, you can buy O-rings online at multiple outlets, as well as in local hardware and home supply stores. To order o-rings in large quantities, contact a manufacturer or distributor.
Instructions for replacing an O-ring will depend on the type of equipment you’re working with. If it’s a faucet or other home device, you can probably find an O-ring replacement guide online.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief foray into the top o-ring uses, maybe even learned some new things.
O-rings are pretty remarkable devices. They save a lot of problems that would otherwise come from leaking pipes, tainted food, machinery that won’t function, and all sorts of other difficulties.
So, if you see a worn-out O-ring lying around, don’t throw it into the trash. Instead, save it so you can get a replacement of the exact same size so that whatever faucet it came from can be restored to 100% functionality.
If this topic interests you, keep reading our blog. There’s always something of interest!
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