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Why Does My Faucet Sputter?

why does my faucet sputter

Have you ever turned on your faucet only to be met with a sputtering, uneven stream of water?

This common issue can be both annoying and concerning, signaling potential problems within your plumbing system.

Understanding the causes and solutions for a sputtering faucet is essential to maintaining your home’s water supply and avoiding more serious plumbing issues down the line.

What Does Faucet Sputtering Mean?

Faucet sputtering occurs when the water flow is interrupted by air or debris, resulting in an inconsistent stream.

This can manifest as bursts of water followed by air, causing the faucet to “sputter.” It’s a noticeable issue that often points to underlying problems in your plumbing system, such as air trapped in the pipes, blockages, or component wear and tear.

Common Causes of a Sputtering Faucet

Understanding the root causes of faucet sputtering is crucial for effective troubleshooting and repair. Here are the most common culprits:

Air in the Pipes Air trapped in the water pipes is a primary cause of sputtering faucets. This can happen when the water supply is turned off and then back on, such as after plumbing repairs or maintenance work. Air pockets form within the pipes, disrupting the flow of water and causing sputtering when the faucet is turned on.

Clogged Aerator The aerator, located at the tip of the faucet, is designed to mix air with water to create a smooth flow. Over time, aerators can become clogged with mineral deposits, sediment, and debris, reducing water pressure and causing sputtering​​. Regular cleaning of the aerator can prevent this issue.

Mineral Buildup Hard water can lead to mineral buildup, particularly calcium and lime, within the pipes and faucet components. This buildup restricts water flow and can cause sputtering as the water struggles to pass through the narrowed spaces​. Descaling agents and water softeners can help manage this problem.

Damaged Valve Cartridge The valve cartridge regulates water flow inside the faucet. If the cartridge is damaged or worn out, it can cause sputtering due to inconsistent water flow. Replacing the faulty cartridge is often necessary to restore proper function​.

Corroded Valve Seat and Washer Corrosion of the valve seat and washer, components that control water flow and pressure, can lead to sputtering. Corrosion typically occurs due to exposure to water and minerals, which degrade these parts over time. Inspecting and replacing these components can solve the problem​.

Faucet Repair Calgary

Diagnosing the Problem

To effectively address a sputtering faucet, it’s important to accurately diagnose the issue. Here are steps to help pinpoint the cause:

Visual Inspection Start by visually inspecting the faucet and aerator for obvious signs of damage or buildup. Remove the aerator and check for clogs or debris. If it’s dirty, clean it thoroughly before reattaching it to the faucet.

Listening for Noises Turn on the faucet and listen for unusual noises. A sputtering sound often indicates air in the pipes. Continuous sputtering might suggest a more persistent issue like a significant blockage or a damaged component.

Water Quality Check Fill a glass with water and observe its clarity. If the water is cloudy and clears from the bottom up, air is likely trapped in the pipes. This simple test can help confirm the presence of air in the water supply​​.

Checking for Leaks Inspect the area around the faucet and under the sink for leaks. Leaks can draw air into the plumbing system, exacerbating sputtering issues. Addressing any leaks can help reduce the occurrence of sputtering.

By understanding these common causes and diagnostic steps, homeowners can effectively troubleshoot and address faucet sputtering issues. In the next part of the article, we will discuss detailed solutions to fix a sputtering faucet and preventive measures to keep your plumbing system in top condition.

How to Fix a Sputtering Faucet

Addressing the issue of a sputtering faucet involves a series of steps to identify and correct the root cause. Here are detailed solutions for fixing a sputtering faucet:

Cleaning the Aerator The aerator, a small screen at the tip of the faucet, is a common site for clogs. Here’s how to clean it:

  1. Remove the Aerator: Unscrew the aerator by turning it counter-clockwise. If it’s stuck, use pliers with a cloth to avoid scratching.
  2. Clean the Aerator: Rinse the aerator under running water and use a toothbrush to remove debris. For mineral buildup, soak the aerator in vinegar for a few hours, then scrub.
  3. Reassemble and Reattach: Once clean, reassemble the aerator components and screw it back onto the faucet​.

Flushing the Pipes Air trapped in the pipes can cause sputtering. Here’s how to flush the air out:

  1. Turn Off the Main Water Supply: Shut off the main water valve to your home.
  2. Open All Faucets: Turn on all faucets in the house, starting with the highest one and moving down to the lowest. This helps to expel air trapped in the pipes.
  3. Turn On the Main Water Supply: Slowly turn the main water supply back on while keeping all faucets open. Allow water to run for a few minutes to ensure all air is expelled.
  4. Close the Faucets: Turn off the faucets starting from the lowest and moving to the highest​​.

Adjusting Water Pressure Incorrect water pressure can cause sputtering. Adjusting the pressure might solve the problem:

  1. Locate the Pressure Regulator Valve: This valve is typically located where the main water line enters your home.
  2. Adjust the Pressure: Use a wrench to turn the adjustment screw. Turning it clockwise increases the pressure, while counterclockwise decreases it. Adjust gradually and test the faucets to see if sputtering stops​​.

Replacing Damaged Components If internal components like the valve cartridge or washers are damaged, they need replacement:

  1. Turn Off Water Supply: Shut off the water supply to the faucet.
  2. Disassemble the Faucet: Remove the handle, usually by unscrewing it. Take off the escutcheon (the decorative plate) to access the cartridge.
  3. Replace the Cartridge: Remove the old valve cartridge and replace it with a new one, ensuring it matches the model of your faucet.
  4. Reassemble the Faucet: Reassemble the faucet parts in reverse order and turn the water supply back on​​.

Preventative Measures

Preventing sputtering faucets involves regular maintenance and checks:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Clean the aerator every few months to prevent clogs from mineral buildup.
  2. Water Softener: Consider installing a water softener if you have hard water, as it reduces mineral deposits in your plumbing.
  3. Periodic Inspections: Regularly inspect faucets and plumbing for leaks, corrosion, and other signs of wear. Address minor issues promptly to prevent bigger problems​​.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While many sputtering faucet issues can be resolved with DIY methods, some situations require professional plumbing assistance:

  1. Persistent Sputtering: If the sputtering persists despite cleaning and adjustments, it may indicate a deeper plumbing issue.
  2. Complex Repairs: Tasks like replacing pipes or dealing with significant mineral buildup might be best handled by a professional.
  3. Unclear Cause: If you’re unable to diagnose the problem, a plumber can provide a thorough inspection and professional solutions​​.


Can a sputtering faucet be caused by low water pressure?

Yes, low water pressure can cause a faucet to sputter. This issue might stem from a problem with the municipal water supply, a clogged water main, or internal plumbing issues such as leaks or blockages. Increasing the water pressure or addressing the underlying cause can resolve the sputtering​.

Is it normal for a faucet to sputter when the hot water is turned on?

It can be normal for a faucet to sputter when the hot water is first turned on if there is air in the hot water lines or issues with the water heater. However, persistent sputtering may indicate a need for water heater maintenance or flushing to remove sediment buildup​.

How often should I clean my faucet aerator?

It’s recommended to clean your faucet aerator every few months to prevent debris and mineral buildup. Regular cleaning ensures a smooth and consistent water flow​.

What should I do if my faucet sputters after plumbing work in the neighborhood?

If your faucet sputters after nearby plumbing work, air might have entered your pipes. Running all your faucets to flush out the air can often resolve this issue. If the problem persists, contacting a professional plumber is advisable​​.


Dealing with a sputtering faucet can be frustrating, but understanding the causes and solutions can help you address the problem effectively.

From cleaning the aerator and flushing the pipes to adjusting water pressure and replacing faulty components, there are various methods to restore your faucet’s smooth operation.

Regular maintenance and timely professional help can prevent sputtering and ensure a reliable water supply in your home.

Addressing these issues promptly not only improves your daily convenience but also helps maintain the overall health of your plumbing system.

George Pinel
George Pinel

Master Plumber

I have been involved in this family owned business for 33 years now.

It has always been and will continue to be the core focus of Instant Plumbing & Heating to provide a long lasting relationship with our customers based on trust and integrity of our service and products.

This achieved by using the best quality materials. I as a business owner continue to mentor and treat my staff with the highest regard and respect, this interns helps them deliver to the client great quality workmanship and service.

It is our professional goal to leave a situation better than when we arrived both in how we do our work and in how you feel for having chosen us to do your work, we are in the anxiety reduction business using plumbing and heating service work to do it.

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