Problem with air in line---sillcock to blame?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by docref, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. docref

    docref New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Sorry for any cross-posting. I have a doozie of a problem and I can't seem to find anyone with experience to answer it. Thanks in advance for all the help. I have well water with a pressure tank. The line comes out of the pressure tank and "t's" off to a frost-free sillcock before continuing into our water softener. After winter, and within the last few months, I've noticed a tremendous amount of air in the water lines.

    I started with the well. Water is at 40' and the well pump is at 55'. So no issue with lack of water. Pump was replaced two years ago. There is a check valve at the top of the actual pump (in the water and 55' down) but no other check valve between pump, pitless adapter, or pressure tank. I checked the line and no leaks. I checked the pitless adapter and no leaks from seal. My final test...if I get the pressure tank up to full pressure (~62) and then shut off water to the house, it never loses pressure or water. Thus, my guess is the pump and water supply (and related materials) are fine.

    I then went to the pressure tank. Holds air fine. 38 psi with no water and doesn't lose air. When I press the air valve, no water comes out and tank is 'hollow' (no hard sound as if full of water).

    My third check was to see if it was the softener or something inside the house. But, I can close off the rest of the house but keep the sillcock (a closed system of pump, tank, and faucet) and it still sputters air.

    So, my final step was to check the frost-free sillcock (the outside faucet between the pump and the rest of the house). If I turn on water outside, it sputters. Then, I get air in the house. It never really clears but will occasionally stop sputtering momentarily. If I turn off the outside faucet, and clear the air in the house by running an inside faucet, I never get air again. Said differently, as long as I don't use the outside sillcock, I don't get air in the water.

    I tried replacing the VACUUM BREAKER in the frost-free sillcock (what I originally called the filter)--the one that lets air in so that the faucet can drain and not freeze, but that didn't help.

    Has anyone ever heard of this? It kind of makes sense because I didn't use the sillcock over winter (outside faucet) and only started using it over the last few months (when I started noticing the issue). I'm wondering if the hard winter we had broke something.

    Why post here and not just replace the sillcock? First, I'm hoping someone else has experience or that this can help someone else. Second, they soldered the sillcock. I'm not an experienced plumber, but there is almost no space to solder in a new sillcock. I can and am planning on using a 'shark-bite' system to replace it. I know people would prefer solder, but the connection is in an open basement where I can monitor the connection for drips. Anyway, before I switch from Solder to Sharkbite, I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything else obvious.

    So, any guesses? Thanks from a completely bewildered homeowner.

    PS - I should add--there are no leaks in the house. I can see the "T" and the inside and outside of the sillcock and I do not get water.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,047
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote. I tried replacing the filter in the frost-free sillcock--the one that lets air in so that the faucet can drain and not freeze,

    There is no such thing. You are probably referring to the vacuum breaker, and it closes to prevent ANYTHING from getting through it into the system. You are misdiagnosing the problem. You may be overpumping the well and sucking air into the system.
  3. docref

    docref New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hi HJ: I'm sorry--you're right. I misquoted. When I narrowed it down to the sillcock, I read seemingly hundreds of posts and they all said that the vacuum breaker (not the filter as I originally called it) was bad. So, I tried replacing that, but that didn't change anything.

    As far as "overpumping the well", I'm not sure if I know what that means. But, I do know that if I don't use the outside faucet with the frost-free sillcock, I never get air in the house. The second I use that outside faucet, I get tons of air in the house. If I stop using the outdoor faucet and 'bleed the house' to get rid of the air, I never get air. For instance, I haven't used the outside faucet in two weeks, and I haven't had any air in the house. But, if I go out and turn it on, I'll immediately get air spurting through my faucets.

    Terry--I can post a picture, but what do you want me to post a picture of?
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,150
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    It means using water faster than the well can recover. Chances are the sillcock allows more GPM to be drawn from the well than inside fixtures.
  5. docref

    docref New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ok. I'm sorry I forgot this in my original description. I have a hose bib inside the house...presumably to drain the tank as it runs into my sump pump. After I read the description of overpumping, I went downstairs and turned it on full blast. If I turn that on (again presumably at the same GPM as the outside faucet), it too starts spurting after a little bit.

    So, maybe you all are right...maybe it is overpumping.
    1. Why did this just start now after years of being fine and after an incredibly wet winter and spring?
    2. Is there something related to the well I need to fix (e.g. a deeper well), or do I just need to find a way to "tone down" the outside faucet?
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2014
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    I'm no well expert, but I've read that sometimes silt can slow the recovery rate of the well (as well as lots of other local conditions like other people moving in and putting in a well, affecting the overall aquifer). Without knowing if the well level drops significantly while the pump is running, it's all conjecture. The current draw of the pump motor will change depending on whether it is pumping all water or sucking in some air...maybe a clamp-on ammeter might show something. Compare those readings with when you notice air to see if there's a correlation.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,047
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Air does not "flow" into a pipe, when the water is under pressure, so it is either being pumped in with an air compressor, or the pump is sucking it in.
  8. docref

    docref New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks for all the help. I finally bit the bullet and replaced the sillcock. I know that sounds like an easy fix, but the placement of it and the fact they soldered the original sillcock in, made it a little difficult. I replaced the sillcock and viola...no more air in the house and the new sillcock does not sputter. The pump runs great and does not overpump. After weeks and weeks of investigating the pump, the well casing, the pressure tank, and about everything else I can think of, I guess I'm glad it was a relatively cost-free fix. Hope my outcome provides some insight in case others ever have this experience.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,047
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    It sounds like your "fix" was like the lady who removed some hair from her lavatory popup and cured a main line stoppage. In other words, illogical, but as long as you are satisfied that is all that counts.
Similar Threads: Problem line---sillcock
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Weil McLain Eco 155 gas boiler constantly cycling problem Nov 16, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Rinnai R75LSi - Hot water problems for over a year! Nov 11, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Deep sink garbage disposal drain problems Nov 5, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Pipe expansion problem Nov 3, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Intermittent T-K2 problems Weird Nov 2, 2014

Share This Page