Why Does Kitchen Faucet Pulsate? (Explained for Beginners)

Are you facing issues with your kitchen faucet recently? More specifically, is your kitchen faucet pulsating when it should be still and steady? Find out why it occurs and how you can fix it below!

Why Does Kitchen Faucet Pulsate?

If your kitchen faucet is pulsating, the reason is most likely water surging. This happens due to a lack of air in the water tank. Water tanks need air pressure for compression. Otherwise, water fills the tank too much, leading to surging water in pipelines. The force ends up pulsating your faucet.

The way it works in a standard tank is that water is stored with air still inside. The absorption of air through the water molecules occurs with time. If the air is decreased in supply, the pressure in the tank becomes off-balance. 

The decreased pressure means air cannot compress the water. The water level thus surges and fills up the tank. So when you turn on the tap, the kitchen faucet will be pulsating because there isn’t enough air pushing water through the pipes.

In simple terms, the force that pushes water through the pipelines is from the air compressing the water.  

In the case of a bladder-pressure tank, the water and air do not meet. This is why if leaks occur due to long-time usage or lack of durability, the air pressure becomes unbalanced. And the same problem with pulsating arises. 

Another common cause for more vigorous pulsating, such as shaking, is due to water hammer. The sudden closing of taps causes air to get stuck inside the pipes. The compression of the air causes the pipes and faucet to shake.

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What Causes a Faucet to Pulsate?

We’ve highlighted key reasons for pulsating faucets below:

The water tank has too much water:

When the water tank has too much water, air pressure is not able to compress properly. That leads to pulsating.

Air pressure in the water tank is not enough:

Air pressure could be misaligned with your tank for many reasons. The pressure gauge could be fixed wrongly. Water levels might be too high, etc. All these reasons lead to water surging which is the main cause of pulsating.

Surging of water in the pipelines:

The pipelines could be facing water surging as well due to leaks, cracks, etc.

Debris and dirt build-up in the pipes:

Due to breakage out of wear and tear or weather conditions, the pipe can be exposed to outside elements like dirt and debris. These build and lead to a decrease in water pressure.

Leaks in any part of the plumbing system:

Leaks in any plumbing fixture can cause your water pressure to go down. 

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Valve is closing too quickly:

Any valve, whether it’s the supply valve, check valve, or the water-reducing valve, closing and opening too fast will cause a surging of water. The quick close and open makes the water rush out too fast, so it needs to be done slowly.

Pre-charge on a pressure tank is unsuitable:

The pressure switch and pre-charge need to work in conjunction for your tank to do its job. If it’s out of order, water surging is inevitable.

Loose connecting pipe to faucet:

A simple issue could be that the pipe that’s connected to the underside of your faucet is not tight enough. The loose and misaligned hold causes the kitchen faucet to pulsate.

The pressure switch is malfunctioning:

The pressure switch can get corroded. This is quite a problem as this part is responsible for keeping track of the pressure. Any malfunction can lead to water surging.

Loose washer in the valve:

A loose washer connecting to the nut of the valve can make your kitchen faucet pulsate. This is the flattened ring steel that goes along with the nut and bold. This is used to prevent screws from going loose, so if it’s loose, then the whole connection is loose.

The diverter in the faucet is causing a pressure surge:

Diverters are responsible for switching from hot and cold water. They do so by using pressure differences. Sudden stops of water flow can make the pressure surge and faucet to pulsate. You’ll hear a similar noise as water hammering.

Pump short-cycling:

If the pump is short-cycling, it can cause clogging of the faucet. This usually happens if the starting/stopping pressure is reached.

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How to Fix a Pulsating Faucet?

Act Early:

The most important tip is to not take pulsating water flow lightly. Left unfixed, surging water can cause problems with your entire plumbing system down the line. 

Check the tank’s air pressure:

The air pressure is the most likely culprit, so we will be checking it first. You can do so by completely emptying the tank as well as the pump from water. Remember to turn off the electricity connection first.

In the tank, you will see the bladder valve. Remove it. Now, by using a pressure gauge, you can take note of the air pressure.

If it’s too low, you need to add in some air. If it’s too high, you need to release some of it. 

If it’s within a normal range of an empty tank (2 PSI below the lowest number on your pressure switch), you can conclude that air pressure is not the cause.

Check the pressure switch:

Many parts of your pressure switch can get worn out, corroded, clogged, etc. You need to do a thorough check of your pressure switch. You need to detach it from the tank to inspect. 

Sometimes the problem can vanish with some cleaning. Other times, for example, with corroded parts, you might need replacing.

Tighten the connecting pipe to the kitchen faucet:

The last effort is in checking your connecting pipe/hose to the faucet. If it’s loose, it might be the cause. Tighten it back.

If nothing changes, get help from a professional:

When all else fails, there’s no choice but to call in an expert. There’s only so much DIY lovers can do. It’s better to avoid irreparably damaging something expensive or crucial. Pros can better assess the pulsating kitchen faucet problems, and you’ll get a faster repair.

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What Causes Surging Water Pressure?

There are many reasons behind surging water:

Tank is waterlogged:

If your tank is waterlogged, the air is unable to compress properly, which leads to surging. You may also notice the motor pump is switching on and off by itself without you using water. Try draining your water tank to fix this problem.

Broken/Leaking Pipes:

A leakage in the pipelines is related to the surging of water pressure. You might think that will cause less surging, but if water cannot travel through a broken line, another will face a heavy flow as surging.

Heating system in connected water lines:

When a heater is emptied, a valve allows water to re-fill the container. You’ll see a temporary pressure drop, but as soon as the valve closes, the water might rush back in as a water surge.

Automated sprinkler or similar appliance is causing it:

These devices use a lot of pressure when working. So, during use, you’ll notice a loss in water pressure. But afterward, the water surges as it reaches a normal pressure level again. This goes for any appliance using high-pressure water. 

Valves aren’t closing slow enough:

The fast closing and opening of valves change the flow of water too suddenly. This can lead to water surging.

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Why Does My Water Pressure Keep Fluctuating?

Water pressure fluctuates for several reasons. Some common causes are trapping of air inside pipelines, clogged and outdated pipes, pressure-reducing valve malfunction, varying water supply, crowded waterlines, etc.

How Do I Stop My Water Pressure Dropping?

You can stop pressure drops in water in the following ways:

  • Keep an eye on your water tank’s air pressure.
  • Replace pressure balancing valve with thermostatic valve so hot and cold water don’t mix.
  • Take account of appliances that use high pressure and the time your usage.
  • Update your diverters.
  • Check if your water lines are used by too many people and what rush hours are.
  • Check if your water supply is running low for some reason.
  • Keep an eye out for leaks in pipes.

Also check these issues with Faucet Low Pressure, Thump, Loose, Whistle, Sputter & their solutions!

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How Do You Increase Water Flow in a Kitchen Faucet?

You can increase water flow in a kitchen faucet in the following ways:

Unclog the aerator

The aerator’s job is to add air to the water flow. For this reason, it has several holes. They can easily get clogged with dirt and debris. Clean the aerator by removing it from the kitchen faucet. 

Then place it in some warm water and vinegar mixture for a few hours. The dirt will come off more easily this way.

Unclog the cartridge

Cartridges also have tiny holes that can pick up dirt. These clog up the water flow. So, clean it by removing it from the faucet and rinsing.

You may need to let it sit in vinegar if the blockage is too persistent. If you think it’s beyond repair, it’s best to get a new one.

Water surging is the main cause of pulsating faucets. And water surging can occur for many reasons. While knowing some common checks to do yourself is important, remember a professional is always there to help.

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