An O-Ring Story

Notice the little Neoprene ring just to the right of the faucet base

You know those weird little coincidence stories that prove Angels exist or whatever? “And that little boy’s name was Albert Schweitzer, and he grew up to…” Well I had a story like that this morning, but this being MY life, of course it was something dumb.

Years ago, I replaced the headlamp bulb on our Mitsubishi hatchback. The bulb inserted into the reflector with a little silicone O-ring seal. The new bulb had a new seal. I took the seal off the old bulb and slipped it onto my pocket flashlight because I do stuff like that. We don’t even have that car anymore, but I still have the flashlight.

Fast-forward to the year 2021: We got another car, the country went through a troublesome president, Mars got its first helicopter. While all this was happening, the O-ring seal on our kitchen sink spout was slowly wearing out. Recently it began to leak, then leak more, every time you use the sink. This being Normal, IL, the water is pretty hard, and mineral deposits began to build up on the surface of the faucet.

This morning begins a long weekend, so I took the spout apart. Yep, the Neoprene ring was worn, causing the leak. I went to measure it so I could go to the lumberyard and buy one the same size.

But then I wondered… what if?

Took out my pocket flashlight, and sure enough the O-ring on it was the same size. I put the silicone headlamp seal ring on the faucet spout and put the whole thing back together.

O-rings come in a lot of sizes. This is tangible proof that… stuff sometimes happens.


  • A silicone O-ring will work fine as a replacement for a Neoprene one in this application. Better, maybe.
  • Yes, we know the sink needs cleaning. Check back later
  • The space shuttle Challenger blew up because of the failure of an O-ring, but the ring itself wasn’t defective; the SRB joints were just badly designed, and the launch was green lighted in weather that was too cold.
  • You probably have a couple hundred O-rings of different sizes in your house and garage. They’re pretty much all made of Neoprene or silicone.
  • The picture above is illuminated from left by the pocket flashlight. Which is made of machined aluminum that is waterproof sealed by… you guessed it, O-rings.