Airlock In Shower? Here’s What To Do

Airlocks are extremely common issues in home plumbing. While they can be quite frustrating, they’re also pretty simple to resolve. Luckily, you came to DreamyHome, and we’ve got a whole host of solutions for you. Let’s talk about how to resolve an airlock in your shower and get things flowing again, shall we?

The best way to fix an airlock in your shower is by forcing water through your taps using a hose and gravity. There are a lot of ways to resolve airlocks, read on to see some.

Like I just said, there’s a lot of potential solutions to this, so let’s take a look at some of them, yeah?

Airlock 101

Let’s talk about what an airlock is really quick, yeah? That’ll help you understand what exactly it is that you’re doing, and that’s always helpful in troubleshooting issues at home.

Believe it or not, an airlock is exactly what it sounds like – air has locked your plumbing from working properly. In other words, air bubbles have gotten stuck in your plumbing, preventing water from passing through. This will cause a stoppage of water and occasionally reduce the flow to nothing more than a dribble.

It’s most common in the curvatures of your plumbing, in high points – especially in hot water plumbing. This is because heated water travels under more pressure than cold water, allowing air to get trapped more easily. When a bubble gets trapped in the curve of a pipe, the best way to resolve it is to knock it loose, similarly to how plunging a toilet works. You force water through the pipes, knocking the air bubble loose and ending the airlock.

5 Ways to Resolve an Airlock in the Shower

We’ll start with the most simple method and move on in time to the more time-consuming ones if the easy bits don’t work. After all, there’s no sense in wasting time that you don’t need to, right?

Method 1

This is the most straightforward method, but it’s also the least likely to work if you have a serious airlock. Begin by going to your shower/bath – turn it on. Is there even a dribble of water coming out? If so, good, we’re going to try and turn that into a torrential downpour. Start by opening your shower to fully open, and do the same to your bath tap.

Let them both go for a few minutes (while keeping an eye on them). Start with cold water, then transfer to hot water, and allow it to run for a few more minutes. Switch back and forth, and theoretically the pressure change between hot and cold water should force the airlock out. If this process works, you’ll be greeted eventually with a bunch of water coming out of both taps at once.

Should this prove unfruitful, you can move onto the next steps, but give this a good try for at least ten minutes first – it can’t hurt anything.

Method 2

Remain in your bathroom, you’re not going anywhere quite yet. Your next move is to unscrew your showerhead from the spigot it screws onto. Wrap the end of this spigot tightly with duct tape and plastic bags (anything that will form an airtight seal works) and turn the shower back on – on hot.

Go to your hot water tank and turn off the hot water to your shower. Allow the cold water to remain on, and switch the shower to cold water. Allow it to run for a few minutes or until the problem resolves itself, repeating as necessary. You may notice that the water slowly starts to come out faster (going from a dribble to a stream, to an eventual downpour) – this is okay. You’re trying to force the airlock out, and sometimes it happens in stages.

Method 3

The third method is also simple but requires a bit of attention from yourself and any friends/family you may be able to recruit. The basic idea is that you’ll open every tap in your home at once and let them run. This (in theory) will pull so much water through your plumbing that it will force the airlock out – we’ll see if it works soon enough.

Start by opening the taps at the highest point in your home and work your way down the house until every sink, shower, and bath is running on full blast. Have someone keep an eye on each of the taps to ensure if the airlock does resolve, you don’t end up with a flooded room or two.

Method 4

This method will require a garden hose that’s long enough to go from a functioning tap to your shower. It’s similar to method 2, except you’re using a tap to force pressure through, rather than plastic bags.

Take a garden hose and firmly affix it to a functioning cold water tap in your home. Use duct tape or something similar to form an airtight seal and affix it in place – have someone hold it if needed. Now, do the same thing with the shower spigot.

Turn on the hot water in your shower for a few seconds, then the cold water in your sink tap. Let them both go at full strength. Now, turn off the cold water, then the hot water. This should force the higher pressure hot water from your shower through and into the hose thanks to the vacuum created by the cold water and airtight seal.

Method 5

This is the last and most complicated (though not by much) method. It requires that you have a washing machine with both hot and cold outlets for water – if you don’t have both, you can’t do this.

Now, turn off and disconnect the hot and cold water to your washing machine. Connect a hose in the same manner as above, doing the exact same thing, but with your washing hot and cold outlets. You can usually turn the hot and cold water on/off with a valve attached to the washer.

Repeat this process for a few minutes, or until it’s resolved. Should none of these solutions work, you either don’t have an airlock or have one so severe that you’ll require a plumber to take a look.

Final Thoughts

An airlock in your shower isn’t nearly as big of a problem as you may think. While having no water coming out of your shower or sink tap can be frustrating, it’s surprisingly easy to resolve and generally takes no specialised knowledge or tools. Whether you choose to resolve it with a garden hose, your washing machine, some plastic bags and duct tape, or just opening every tap in your home, it can be done without a plumber.

If, however, you’ve tried every method listed here to no avail, it may be time to throw in the towel and call a plumber. It’s entirely possible that there’s another issue that you haven’t spotted elsewhere along the line. A professional will be able to pinpoint and solve whatever problems you may have much faster than you likely could – so give them a call if needed.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.