Air lock in pipework

Solving the Problem of Air Locks in Your Pipework

If you’ve gone to turn on a faucet, but you’ve been confronted with no water flow and, instead, just a series of gurgling and spitting noises then it’s likely that you’re going to be facing one of two problems:

  • The water supply has gone off in your area
  • You’ve got an air lock in your pipework

Now, the first problem leaves you with little choice but to wait for the water company to rectify it. However, with a little bit of plumbing skill, the second problem can easily be solved without having to call out a plumber, but what is an air lock?

Well, as gas is less dense than a liquid, it will rise to any available high points in the presence of liquid. This means that if any type of gas sneaks into your plumbing, it’s going to create a blockage for any flowing liquids, hence, the lack of water when you open the faucet.

Thankfully, there are a couple of ways that you can solve the problem of air locks in your pipework.

air lock hose pipe1. Get Connected With a Hosepipe

Make sure you’ve got a hosepipe to hand with the relevant connectors to fit to your faucets. Once you have this, get started by connecting the hosepipe to the waterless faucet. You then need to locate a working faucet and connect the other end of the hosepipe to this.

It’s then a simple case of turning the faulty faucet on followed by turning the working faucet on. The force of the water pressure from the working faucet will dislodge the airlock from the faulty faucet and help establish its water flow once more.

Bear in mind that this isn’t an instant fix despite the rapid movement of the water. It may take several minutes to force out the airlock, so don’t give up straightaway. And, in order to avoid creating a vacuum and another airlock, make sure you remove the hosepipe from the highest faucet first.

All that’s left to do is drain away the water in the hosepipe and everything should be back to normal.

2. Draining the System

The hosepipe method is relatively quick and simple, but unfortunately it won’t always work on more stubborn air locks. And, when this happens, you need to approach the problem from a different angle and drain all of the pipework in your plumbing system to ensure the air lock is eliminated.

It certainly sounds complicated, but you’ll be pleased to hear that, with a bit of confidence, any home owner should be able to tackle this task.

stopcockYou’ll need to start by locating the stopcock for your house as this allows you to turn off the water supply to your house. Once you’ve disabled the water supply, you should turn on all the faucets in your house – make sure you start off with the highest faucets first as gravity will help to drain them effectively.

Gradually, you should find that the water flow from your faucets runs down to a mere trickle before stopping entirely. Also, make sure you flush your toilets several times to eliminate all water from your system. At this point, you should turn your taps almost all the way off, but not so much that no water can flow through.

You can now revisit your stopcock and turn the water supply back on. However, you need to take your time here and turn your faucets open to a half open position slowly to prevent any more air locks forming. Eventually, you should turn the faucets fully open in order to eliminate the air lock completely.

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