Why Does My Kitchen Faucet Pulsate?

Plumbing problems aren’t ideal, as they can create a ripple effect throughout your home. For instance, if your water supply isn’t working, you can’t wash clothes, rinse fresh produce, wash your hands, take showers, and more. The list goes on. While areas impacted by the ripple effect vary based on the problem, plumbing issues are the last thing most folks want to deal with.

Key Points:

  • Common causes of a pulsating kitchen faucet include air pressure in the water tank, a clogged aerator, trapped air, and pressure surges.
  • To fix a pulsating faucet, try cleaning the aerator, checking the air pressure on the water tank, looking for leaks in the system, and examining the pressure relief valve. If these methods don’t work, it may be necessary to call a professional plumber.

Perhaps your kitchen faucet randomly started pulsing for no apparent reason. Although it still works and isn’t as inconvenient as other plumbing issues, it isn’t ideal. So, now what? Why is the faucet pulsating? There are a few things that can cause it, which we’re here to discuss (plus how to fix them), so stick around to learn more!

What Causes My Kitchen Faucet To Pulsate?

The culprit behind your pulsating kitchen faucet can be a couple of things. Here are a few of the most common causes of a pulsating faucet:

  • Air pressure in the water tank: If the air pressure within your home’s water tank is insufficient, it can lead to a pulsating faucet.
  • Clogged aerator: Mineral buildup at the tiny screen in your faucet can restrict water flow to the point of issues, potentially causing your tap to pulsate.
  • Trapped air: If air is trapped in your water system, it can lead to this issue. The air can become stuck in tiny bubbles at high places in your water system.
  • Pressure surges: Surges within the water system can lead to a pulsing water flow, resulting in a pulsating or vibrating faucet. This can result from various issues, such as burst pipes, issues with the bladder pressure tank, or incorrect precharge settings on the tank.

How Do You Fix A Pulsating Faucet?

The repair process for a pulsating faucet varies based on the culprit behind the issue. While some problems have quick and easy fixes, like cleaning a clogged aerator, other issues are more complex. In some cases, you might need the assistance of a professional. But before you call a plumber, try these methods.

Clean The Aerator

Before troubleshooting the issue with the following methods, check the aerator. This is the easiest to check and fix (if it is the problem), so start here. You’ll need to remove the aerator from your faucet’s spout and examine it for debris and buildup.

Here’s what you might need:

  • Allen wrench
  • Aerator cache key
  • Small bowl
  • White vinegar
  • Old toothbrush

The removal process varies based on your faucet model, as the design differs from one product to the next. In some cases, the aerator might be threaded onto the end of the spout. If your faucet has this type of aerator, simply unthread it from the spout.

Alternatively, it might be on the face of the sprayer head (if your faucet has one). In many cases, you can unscrew it from the spray face using the long end of an Allen wrench (or a similar tool). Fit the wrench into the notches of the aerator and rotate it to unscrew the aerator.

However, if your faucet doesn’t have a visible aerator, it’s probably recessed inside the spout. While you might be able to remove the aerator by hand, there’s a good chance you’ll need a cache aerator key (it should come with your faucet). Simply insert the tool into the spout, ensuring it catches on the grooves in the aerator. Unthread the aerator.

Once you remove the aerator, examine it for debris. If you find crusty, white buildup, soak the aerator in a bowl of distilled white vinegar for a few hours or overnight. Once the aerator has soaked for a while, remove it from the bowl and use an old toothbrush to scrub away the debris.

Rinse the aerator with clean water and reinstall it in the spout. Check for proper function. If the faucet still pulsates, continue with the following methods.

Check The Air Pressure On Your Water Tank

In some cases, your water tank might be the issue. So, check the pressure gauge on your water tank. The designated pressure range varies based on the tank in question, so ensure the pressure is within this range.

A malfunctioning pressure switch can lead to problems with the air pressure in the system, so check the switch while examining the system.

Call a plumber if you’re unsure how to troubleshoot this issue or find a problem with the water tank. They can help find and address the issue to ensure your faucet’s problem is on its way out.

Remove Air From The Pipes

Air pockets in the pipes throughout your home can also lead to issues with your faucet. Luckily, removing these air bubbles from the lines is a relatively simple process. Start by turning off the water to your home at the main shut-off valve. If you live in a warm area, you’ll probably find it on the side of your home outside (by your water meter), but if you live in a cold climate, it’ll be inside.

Once you turn off the water in your home, turn on every faucet in your home. Start at the faucet closest to the shut-off valve and work outward. This will allow water to drain from your system, releasing the air pockets trapped in the pipes. Remember to turn on all of the faucets with a water connection (this includes your washer and dishwasher). In addition, don’t forget to flush the toilets.

After turning on the inside faucets, head outside and turn on the outdoor spigots. Let the water run until there’s nothing left in the system. Once the faucets finish draining, turn the water back on at the main supply valve.

Let the water run for 5-10 minutes or until the water stops bubbling and gurgling. This is due to air in the pipes, so once this stops and the water stream is consistent, you should be good to go. Turn off all the faucets in your home, then check the kitchen faucet for the issue. If the pulsating persists, continue with the following methods.

Check For Pressure Surges

A sudden drop or change in pressure in your water system can lead to a pressure surge, resulting in a pulsating problem. Unfortunately, this problem has its own set of culprits, so you’ll need to do a bit of sleuthing to isolate the issue.

Here are a few places to check:

  • Well bladder or tank: If your home operates on a well system, check the tank and well bladder. If they’re clogged, it could lead to surges in the system, causing the problem. Generally, this is easily fixable by turning off the pump and draining the tank.
  • Broken pipes: Broken or leaking piping throughout your home’s water system can cause water surges, leading to a pulsating faucet. These surges can affect available pressure on the line, usually leading to a notable decrease in water pressure. However, if other faucets on the same line are off, you might notice a visible surge when you turn on one tap, causing the pulsating.
  • Sprinkler system: If you have a sprinkler system, it could be the culprit, especially if it’s set to water the entire lawn at once. The sprinkler system demands excessive amounts of water while watering your entire lawn, so when it shuts off, it can cause a pressure surge. To remedy this issue, set the system to water your lawn in sections.

Call A Plumber

It doesn’t hurt to call a plumber if you can’t find the issue despite your best efforts. While some issues, like a clogged aerator, aren’t a big deal, some problems can have ripple effects. For example, if the system is experiencing pressure surges, it can affect the lifespan of your home’s plumbing and cause leaks and breaks in the pipes. So, it’s essential to address the issue sooner rather than later.

The repair cost will depend on the issue, so it may range from less than $100 to over $1,000. It all depends on the culprit behind the problem.

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