Don't hate the drinking fountain button — it's just misunderstood

If you've ever been disappointed by a weak trickle from a public drinking fountain, don't holler at the button. As outlined this article from The Verge, those much-maligned metal discs are actually ingenious pieces of engineering that are "tragically misunderstood."

The drinking fountain button operates via an elegantly mechanical yet modular design dating back over 100 years. As the article explains, "When your thumb pushes that metal disc inward, you're also pressing a button beneath the button that uncaps a spout inside the spout," kind of like the way we have a little person inside our head who does our thinking for us.

According to Josh Linn, a technical product manager at Haws Corporation, the most common cause of dribbling fountains is simply a lack of maintenance. The strainer can get clogged over time, or the stream height adjustment screw may need to be adjusted. He even has as DIY tip if you want to act out you own Harry Tuttle fantasy and fix the adjustment screws of public drinking fountains yourself: "One of the company's owners used to carry a little screwdriver around everywhere they went to fix dribbling fountains — if you want to try it yourself, Epker says a 1/8-inch flat-blade screwdriver is the largest that will fit."

Previously: Pothole in your neighborhood? Tell Portland Anarchist Road Care to fix it