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Ever since I was a child I have noticed a strange phenomenon in hot tub/jacuzzi jets, if you partially cover them, the water will still flow but the bubbles stop. No matter what hot tub I'm at, I can put my hand, or any obstacle for that matter, closer and closer to the jet until about at a centimeter away (perhaps less) from the opening, all of a sudden the bubbles stop flowing although there is still plenty of water flow. I'm sure I'm not the only one whose noticed this. Why do the bubbles stop? Why don't they just flow around the obstacle like the water does?

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I've never been in a jacuzzi, but I'll try to imagine one. I read elsewhere that the bubbles are added using venturi-effect, or using a blower. Main thing is, they aren't pumped together with the water (the pump wouldn't like that anyway).

The Venturi effect creates low pressure (suction) by increasing the velocity of the water in a narrow section of the pipe (smaller diameter, same volume water, so it has to speed up). increased velocity = lower static pressure (See Bernouilli principle for the details). An air blower is obvious, it blows air in some network of tubes connected to the water jets.

The reason why the bubbles stop is the same in both cases: by partly blocking the water flow you increase the pressure in the pipe. The pressure in the venturi is now higher than the air pressure instead of lower, so no more air is sucked in. If it's an air blower, it won't provide much pressure (would be bad design, since it isn't needed), and all jets are open, a little extra pressure at one jet and the air will go to the other jets instead.

The only case in which this wouldn't work is when the air enters the water before it's split into separate lines for all the jets.

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  • $\begingroup$ Man. Cool! And I here I always just assumed it was because there was some sort of "shutoff" mechanism for the blower (that trying to pump air into a stopped-up flow would damage it somehow...). $\endgroup$ – Alex Meiburg Jul 6 '16 at 1:32

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