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For about two weeks, I have been hearing a vibration and loud noise very time I turn on the kitchen faucet, mostly on the hot water side. If I turn to cold water it stops but periodicly when running between hot and cold, the noise returns. I reported it to my building mainenance and when that person came up to check, at that time that he turned the water on it did not make that sound and he said its probably a washer, which I said it can't be, there is air in the pipes. Several days later I was washing dishes and the faucet just blew up and erupted in my hands, completely coming apart and shooting water out like a geyser. I would like to know if this is a common problems in a kitchen faucets. I feel like the cause could be by some pressure build up inside the wall pipes.

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On a side note regarding maintenance guy.The washer causing the water hammer is quite common and is caused by the flow of water past the washer head at a certain flow rate the washer will jump up and down, the effects can vary between a squealing tap and really bad water hammer. This can be fixed by replacing the washer if it the just a deformed washer or pining the washer into the spindle by crushing the shaft of the washer then forcing it into the spindle. –  UNECS Jul 23 '12 at 5:50
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1 Answer 1

Air in pipes causes what is called water hammer. With air placed in a controlled position, it can be beneficial, acting like a shock absorber. In random places, it can be bad, rapidly accelerating water mass in an uncontrolled direction until it hits a closure, causing the 'hammer'. It is possible for water hammer to damage plumbing systems, especially if allowed to persist over a period of time. The risk is greater in larger pipes because of the greater mass of water involved. The problem isn't so much increased pressure (which can be briefly much greater than normal), it is fast moving water mass impacting on fixed portions of the plumbing.

In your case, I suspect the faucet was close to failure in any case. Any involvement of water hammer would only be the straw that broke the camel's back, not the root cause of the failure. A healthy faucet should be able to resist water hammer at the levels normally seen in residential plumbing. Your faucet was probably greatly weakened by any combination of age, corrosion, inferior materials, improper service or assembly techniques, etc. I wouldn't say it's a common problem, but I've seen it happen a few times on old, cheap faucets. Commonly, faucets develop unrepairable leaks more than actually blowing apart. Then on investigation of the leak, some major faucet part breaks and it becomes obvious it needs to be replaced.

I'm glad my kitchen faucet fell apart. It was an annoying cheap thing. It's replacement is much nicer :)

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Water hammer is not necessarily caused by air in pipes. Nor is water hammer necessarily "rapidly accelerating water mass", but typically sudden deceleration, such as rapidly shutting a valve at the end of a long pipeline. If he had water hammer, he'd hear banging in the plumbing system whenever he shut off the faucet. With his symptoms of vibration, he's got some other problem. His faucet was likely on the verge of failure and likely whole cause of all his problems. Otherwise, if it was in the plumbing system, he'd have problems with all of his plumbing fixtures. –  whatsisname Jul 23 '12 at 0:07
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