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Is There an Air Lock in Your Plumbing?


When you turn on one or more of the faucets in your home, do you hear a strange tapping sound (sometimes also referred to as water hammer sounds) that comes from the pipes? If so, you may be worried that you have a large, expensive plumbing problem on your hands, but the good news is that it’s probably not a serious issue and some DIY know-how can help troubleshoot the issue.

Just like a radiator in a central heating system or automotive setups, if there’s trapped air in the system, you can have issues, whether in your hot water pipes, cold water pipes, hose pipes, or hot water systems. There are DIY ways to address this, knowing that the air is trying to get to the high points of the system, and can cause issues such as vapor lock with your spout, shower head, garden hose, cold water tap, kitchen sink, pipework or any other faucets in your plumbing system.

Often, tapping sounds coming from the pipes when you turn on a faucet means that there is what is called an “air lock” in the plumbing. Fortunately, airlocks are not serious, and they don’t lead to leaks or costly water damage, however, you will have trouble getting the affected faucets to work properly until the airlock is effectively removed.

When Air Gets Into the Pipes

Most of the time, air does not get into the pipes, but on occasion, this does happen. When air does get into the water pipes, it has a tendency to form bubbles. Usually, these small air bubbles will travel just fine with the water until they exit the pipes through the faucet.

But, not all bubbles exit faucets with the water. Occasionally, such bubbles accumulate within a bend in the pipe until they form a large bubble that’s too large to travel through the pipe and out of the faucet, or washing machine, causing an airlock problem.

Like a stubborn clog, a large, stationary air bubble will restrict the flow of water and cause low water pressure. Once a bubble grows large enough, it can literally block the flow of water altogether, like you’ve turned the water valve off. Generally, we run into airlocks more frequently with hot water lines, namely because they deal with less pressure than cold water lines.

How Do You Remove an Airlock?

Usually, the most effective way to remove an airlock is to increase the water pressure inside the pipe – this way the air bubble can be physically pushed out by the rush of water. If you suspect that you have an airlock, we recommend turning on all the faucets in your home at once. The increase in pressure should do the job.

If this trick doesn’t work, and the lock is affecting your hot water supply, we recommend contacting us to schedule a service call with one of our Kansas City plumbers. Call today for the help you need for nearly all your plumbing problems, including new water heaters, water tanks, blockages in your mains water flow, hot water taps and more.

The professional plumbers at A-1 Sewer & Septic have the experience to get your home’s plumbing system working again!