8. Equations Involving Fractions

In this section, we can find the solution easily by multiplying throughout by the lowest common denominator.

aquarium with fish

Example 1

An aquarium can be filled by one hose in 7 minutes and a second thinner hose in 10 minutes.

How long will it take to fill the tank if both hoses operate together?


Since each hose makes the filling time less, we have to add the reciprocals together and take the reciprocal of the result.

We need to use:


So we have:





So it will take 4.1 minutes to fill the tank with both hoses operating together.

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Example 2

For 2 resistors with resistances R1and R2 in parallel, the combined resistance R is given by:


For a particular circuit, the combined resistance R was found to be 4 ohms (Ω), and R1= 10 Ω. Find R2.


We have:


We need to multiply throughout by the lowest common denominator: 20R2





`R_2=20/3=6 2/3Omega`

"`Omega`" is the symbol for "ohms", the unit of resistance.

Easy to understand math videos:

Example 3

A car averaged 30 km/h going from home to work and 40 km/h on the return journey. If the total time for the two journeys is 50 minutes, how far is it from home to work?


Let the length of the journey from home to work be x km.

Recall that

`text(speed) = text(distance)/text(time)`


`text(time) = text(distance)/text(speed)`

We must use the same time units throughout. We will use hours.


` 50\ text(minutes)=50/60=5/6text(hours)`

In the forward journey, the car's time was `x/30` hours.

For the return journey, the time was `x/40` hours.

The total time was `x/30+x/40=5/6\ text(hours)`

So `(4x+3x)/120=(7x)/120=5/6`

This gives us `7x=(5xx120)/6=100`

That is `x=100/7=14.286`

So the distance from home to work is 14.3 km.