8 Causes of Air in Water Lines from a Well (+How to Fix)

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Air in water lines is usually caused by a faulty well pump system, air in your water pressure tank, loss of water in the well, water heater issues, the presence of various gas, and leaks in your well piping.

If you notice irregular water flow, sputtering in your faucets, or vibrations in your pipes, you have air in your water line. While air in your pipes doesn’t affect water quality or pose a health risk, it often affects your plumbing system’s ability to deliver water into your home.

In this guide, we’ll be delving into the most common causes of air in your water lines from your well system. We’ll also share the 8 best ways to prevent a buildup of air. By the end of this guide, you should be able to confidently diagnose and treat an air buildup issue in your pipes.

📖 How to Temporarily Fix Air Bubbles in Water Lines

The only way to permanently get rid of air in your pipes for good is to follow the diagnostic and treatment process below. However, if you don’t have time to determine the problem just yet, get rid of the worst of the air bubbles with this temporary fix.

  1. Completely turn off your main water supply valve (it should be located near the water’s point of entry into your home).
  2. Open all the water connections around your home, including your faucets, and the connections for your washing machine, dishwasher, and other water-using appliances.
  3. Switch your main water valve back on and wait for water to flow through your faucets on the cold side. Leave the faucets on for up to 15 minutes, or wait until water flows steadily from your faucets without sputtering. Once you see a steady flow of water, wait several more minutes before switching off your faucets.
Water well maintenance

📝 8 Common Causes of Air in Water Lines from Well & How to Fix Them

Below, we’ve listed the most common causes of air in water lines, and shared the solutions to fix them.

1) Faulty or Failing Well Pump

The Problem

A faulty well pump is the most likely reason why your water system contains air. A well pump forms a vacuum while it’s operating, and may pull air and water into your pipes during a pump cycle if the pump motor or casing is worn, old, or faulty.

An above-ground well pump is more likely to draw air than a submersible pump, which is submerged underwater. An pump that’s incorrectly sized for your well system may also pull air from your well along with water.

How to Fix It

The quickest and safest way to fix a well pump is to arrange for a professional contractor to service the pump. During their inspection, the contractor can tell you whether your pump needs to be replaced or fixed to prevent excess air discharge from your faucets.

Person fixing convertible jet pump

2) Air in Water Pressure Tank

The Problem

Air in your well’s water pressure tank can cause air pressure to build inside your pipes and faucets. Old or bladderless water tanks are more likely to experience this issue than new tanks.

Air that gets into your water tank is delivered around your home along with the water, affecting the tank’s ability to provide constant pressure. You’ll notice water coughing out of your faucets when you open them, and the issue won’t resolve itself after three or so minutes.

How to Fix It

Depending on the cause of the problem in your well water pressure tank, you may need to replace the pressure tank bladder or replace the entire bladder tank. Again, ask a local contractor to inspect your well and advise on either a bladder replacement or a new water pressure tank. You may only need to replace the tank’s valve or pressure switch.

3) Water Heater Issue

The Problem

Noticing air discharge only from your hot water faucets? You’re likely dealing with an issue in your hot water heater.

If your heater isn’t purged regularly, sediment and air will build up inside the system. The anode rod in your heater may also be reacting with the water, creating hydrogen bubbles in the water.

How to Fix It

Because the exact cause of air in your water lines depends on your type of heater, it’s best to employ a plumber to check out the problem. First, turn off your water heater and run your hot water faucets to see if the sputtering stops. If it does, ask your local plumber to pay a visit. Continuous spitting from your faucets may be linked to a buildup of heat, potentially causing a water heater explosion, so it’s important to investigate anything unusual.

Water heater element with limescale buildup

4) Loss of Well Water

The Problem

If your well pump is drawing air into your water pipes, the pump itself might not be the problem – it could be the well water table.

If your well water table drops too low, the well may draw water and air into your plumbing system, decreasing the water recovery rate. A sign that your well is drying out is if your faucets start sputtering at peak usage times, such as in the evenings, but the sputtering reduces the next morning.

How to Fix It

Temporarily, you can fix a problem with a low well water table by lowering the well water pump further into the aquifer. Eventually, you’ll need to hire a contractor to drill deeper into your well to access a greater water supply. In a worst case scenario, your well may become unusable.

5) Leaks in Well Piping

The Problem

If your well piping, check valve, foot valve, drop pipe, or any other parts of your well water system have sprung a leak, this could cause air and sediment to enter into your hot and cold water pipes. Outside piping leaks will also reduce your water flow rate.

How to Fix It

To detect a leak, shut off the main water supply line to your home and check the reading on the pressure gauge. If the pressure drops slowly and gradually, you’re probably dealing with a leak that will need to be fixed by a professional.

Shut off main water supply

6) Faulty Plumbing Valves

The Problem

Air pockets in your plumbing could be caused by faulty or poorly installed plumbing valves, leading to negative pressure in the well piping system. The valves start to suck air into your plumbing, causing your faucets to release air when you switch them on.

How to Fix It

To work out whether the air in your water pipes is caused by your plumbing valves, check each valve one-by-one, ensuring that all valves are properly installed and functioning correctly. Replace the problem valve or hire a plumber if you’re not a fan of DIY.

7) Presence of Gas

The Problem

Dissolved gasses like carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane gas may also dissolve into your water, causing air to sputter out of your faucets. These gasses are naturally present in the earth and may leach into your water supply from soil seepage.

How to Fix It

Get your water tested to determine whether the air problem is caused by a certain contaminant. If so, install a water treatment system, like an aeration unit, to remove the problem contaminant.

Whole house sediment filter installation

8) Problem with Water Treatment System

The Problem

Finally, too much air in your water pipes may be caused by a problem with your water treatment system. When they’re working properly, water filters and water softeners allow for a steady stream of water to be delivered throughout your home. But when these systems are clogged, worn, or faulty, they could cause air to get into your water.

How to Fix It

Consult the user manual to diagnose common issues, and check for holes in the system’s pipes and fittings. Replace valves or openings as necessary.

🔖 Takeaway

Sputtering, irregular water flow, and air in your water pipes may be caused by issues in your well pressure tank, pump, heater, pipes, or other well components. Follow the advice in this guide to diagnose and treat the issue based on its cause.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    Jennifer is a seasoned water treatment expert with over 18 years of experience in the industry, dedicated to improving water quality for clients across the USA and around the world. Her passion for helping others and extensive networking skills have led her to hold leadership positions in organizations like the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Home Builders Association. Jennifer is currently a managing partner at Redbird Water of West Texas, where she specializes in providing water filtration and solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial clients.

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