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Solving a Spitting Faucet Mystery

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey diagnoses and repairs a water system with air in it.


  1. When dealing with water issues, start from the main water shutoff and work your way back. Identify any areas where air is introduced to the system.
  2. Check any potential obstructions in the water line. If there’s a filter, a pump, or anything other than a water line, check to make sure it’s working properly.
  3. Water filters are naturally designed to clog, so be sure to check them often and change them regularly, as that could cause obstructions.
  4. It’s also possible to put flow restrictors on the water line, which could be a simple ball valve with the handle removed, to control how much water enters and leaves various parts of the system, like a radon mitigation unit. Cut the line in the desired area and solder the valve in. Once the valve is set to the desired setting, remove the handle to prevent accidental changes to the valve.
  5. If water flow is an issue, identify appliances that use an excess amount of water and consider replacing them with water-conserving appliances.


Richard added a ball valve to act as a flow restrictor, which can be found at home centers and plumbing supply stores.

Richard recommends that homeowners test their water for radon. Those kits can be purchased at home centers and have easy-to-follow instructions.