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Starting about a week ago, our kitchen faucet has exhibited some odd behavior. When you lift the handle for it, nothing comes out for a second. You can hear air or water flowing, but nothing comes out. Then, a second later, the water comes out.

If you turn the water off and then on again soon thereafter, it works normally. But if the water is off for awhile, you get the delay again. This happens for hot and cold water. There are no leaks or drips under the sink that I can see.

Our kitchen faucet is the single-handle style, where you move the handle to choose water temperature, and it does have a sprayer attachment, in case that is relevant.

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Is the sprayer separate, or is it the style where the faucet head pulls out on a hose? –  Kevin Reid Apr 13 '13 at 1:28
    
City water, well water? Any new water configurations elsewhere? Any new construction elsewhere? Main water supply turned off recently? –  HerrBag Apr 13 '13 at 16:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Over the weekend I determined what the cause was. Thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions; the actual problem was slightly different.

The problem was that the sprayer hose was loose on the sprayer end. Since the hose is pressurized when the faucet is on, this meant that the sprayer leaked a little from the bottom while the water was on, and a little bit after turning the faucet off. This meant that the next time you turned the faucet on, the hose was partially empty of water, so it took a second to pressurize the hose before water would come out of the faucet.

Tightening the sprayer hose connection seems to have fixed the problem.

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I disagree this is an aerator problem. Aerators do nothing to retain or drain water in the spout, it is geometry and gravity. A clogged aerator will extend the time it takes to fill an empty spout, but will also severely restrict water flow to a noticeable degree. By all means clean the aerator, most of them could use some cleaning.

The spout should retain water regardless of aerator condition. Even if it were empty, unless the valve is opened very slowly, it will fill extremely quickly and water flow will be seen in much less than 1 full second.

The problem could be in the valve assembly, but the linkage would need to be such that the valve opening speed is not directly related to the lever operation speed, which would be an unusual configuration.

Another cause could be the water supply is saturated with air or some other gas. When the water sits, the gas separates from the water and causes a sizable bubble to build in the pipe just below the valve. It will take a bit of time to push this gas out of the pipe before water flow is observed. Depending on pipe configurations, this may or may not be observed at other faucets.

When gas or air collects this way, the little bit of water in the spout is usually expulsed rather violently, as compressed air flows much faster than water under pressure. This is typically rather startling to the person using the faucet. If this behavior is not observed, this is unlikely the explanation.

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+1 If I were to guess, I'd say a bad o-ring in spout assembly that's allowing a small leak around th base that's barely noticeable. –  BMitch Apr 12 '13 at 22:18

Check the aerator. Remove it and use it normally for a few days and that will tell you if it is the aerator. Another thing to check: do you have a sprayer hooked up to the sink as well? If so, the diverter could be the problem. Or the pressure could just be low.

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