Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Are you tired of your kitchen tap squealing? Here’s how to fix it for good.
A whistling kitchen tap is not normal. Several things can cause a faucet to develop a squeal. The reasons include washers that are worn or wonky, a build-up of hard water residue, physical issues with the tap and possibly the plumbing.
You don’t have to call the plumber just yet. In most cases, a whistling tap can be fixed by the homeowner. Here are the top tips to fix that faucet.
When a kitchen tap suddenly goes from quiet to sounding like a mad pig, it’s a sign that something is wrong. A whistling tap is never normal. The good news is that this scenario is not the worst thing that can hit your kitchen or plumbing. That being said, it could also indicate damage that needs attention. Needless to say, a constant whistling sound can also be incredibly annoying.
Here are the main reasons why a tap feels like tooting.
When your tap whistles, the first thing to check is the faucet’s washers. The problem could be a washer that is the wrong size, one that is worn or perhaps it became dislodged. Most of the time, you can fix this issue by replacing the washer.
Step 1: Turn off the main water supply of your home to ensure that you don’t make a watery mess! If there is a shut-off valve under the sink, you can turn that off instead.
Step 2: Unscrew the nozzle of the tap (A seemingly impossible task? Then it might be time to call the plumber).
Step 3: If you safely managed to remove the nozzle, look at the position of the rubber washer. Is the washer incorrectly placed? Simply push it back into place and test the tap once you screw back the nozzle. If the washer is not dislodged, inspect the rubber for damage or the wrong size.
Step 4: If the washer is damaged or the wrong size, it needs to be replaced.
Step 5: Replace the tap and turn on the water supply.
Hard water is stuffed with minerals like magnesium and calcium. This type of water has a bad habit of causing mineral deposits that can damage boilers and other equipment. In the case of taps, mineral deposits caused by hard water can interfere with the flow of the water by narrowing the inside of the tap’s stem. In certain cases, this narrowing makes the tap squeal when you open it. The limescale also tends to glom onto the rubber washer.
Step 1 : Turn off the water supply before inspecting the tap.
Step 2 : Unscrew the faucet and check to see if the washer has been affected by mineral deposits. If so, remove the washer and clean it with a cloth and warm water. If the washer is too badly damaged, it must be replaced.
Step 3 : If the scale is affecting more places inside the tap - and specifically the stem - then you can soak it in a mixture of water and vinegar. That will help to dissolve the residue.
Step 4 : Once the vinegar solution clears the deposits, thoroughly wash the tap before screwing it back on and turning the water supply back on as well.
This one is pretty quick to diagnose. The whistle is more of a screech and it can almost be felt when you turn the handle of the tap. If the tap feels a little stuck, then it could be a strong indicator that the washers, hard water, and plumbing are all fine. The trouble lies with the tap’s grooves (called threads) inside the handle.
In a normal tap, these grooves allow you to turn a tap on or off with ease. But since they are highly exposed to wear and tear, the threads sometimes fail to the point that they grind against the grooves inside the tap’s stem. Needless to say, this can be damageing to both sets of threads. As a quick solution, you can always replace the entire tap set-up. But another option is to add a lubricant to the grooves, especially when they are still in good working condition.
The problem might not be so directly connected to the kitchen sink tap. But when you turn on a particular tap and the noise starts up, it could mean that one or more of the connecting pipes have a problem. Unfortunately, this is a harder situation to suss out and find the cause - especially when you are trying to fix the whistling noise yourself.
But here are two of the most common reasons why plumbing whistle.
We’ve mentioned this problem a little earlier. As you can see, hard water’s effects are not limited to taps. Limescale also grows inside the pipes of plumbing systems. It narrows the pipes, interferes with the water flow or messes with the water pressure. All of which can then lead to a whistling sound.
Mineral deposits are not the only thing that can raise the water pressure inside pipes. Damage components and pipes can also cause too much pressure. If you suspect that water pressure is the cause, a professional plumber can find out which one - damage or mineral build-up - is behind the whistling. They will also offer a solution or fix the noisy pipes for good.
Thankfully, this scenario is not too common. But for those who own a tap with a seeming voice of its own, it can be alarming. The problem is nearly always with the plumbing and not the tap itself. But it can be extremely hard to figure out what causes a whistling sound in this case.
There might be a blockage somewhere in the drain or venting system. You can always try to clean both and see if that stops the noise. A plumber’s snake is a good tool to use to try and dislodge a blockage in the main or roof vent as well as the p-trap under the kitchen sink. But if this does not work, it might be time to call the best plumber you can get.
Most whistling noises can be fixed quickly at home if you have the right tools and parts. But don’t hesitate to use a reputable plumbing company to fix the problem if you are pushed for time or cannot find the cause of the whistling yourself.
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