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All taps in the bathroom turning on by themselves

We had low water pressure during the day due to some repair works being carried out in the local area. Water was running, but it was sputtering like there was air in the pipes. I'd checked the kitchen taps, which ran clear after a time, and the bathroom sink taps, which continued to sputter. I didn't touch the bath taps at all except for very early in the morning when the water pressure was normal. However, at 11pm at night we came downstairs to find that all bathroom taps were on - flooding the bathroom and kitchen. Our lettings agents refuse to believe there is anything wrong with the plumbing, claiming we left the taps on. But the water was running when we checked and we turned the taps until they couldn't turn anymore to switch them off. We also didn't touch the bath taps at all and yet they were running too. The water company’s website explains that works in the area can lead to temporary changes in water pressure, and that high water pressure can lead to pipes bursting. Is it also possible for an increase in water pressure to turn the taps on (by shifting a valve or something)?

1 Answer from a MyBuilder Plumber

Best Answer

Hi Lisa.
Having read your post & the response of your letting agents, even though I cannot be definitive upon your individual circumstances, I thought I should give some input to your plight.
Whilst very unusual, the scenario you describe is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Although the very old fashioned washer type taps would be very unlikely to suffer this problem, the more modern incarnations could be more likely to do this, & indeed some will & for a variety of reasons.
It would not be that unusual for some static spindle valves on a 3/8" washer hot tap to start running on it's own for instance. Also the percussive course threaded 1/2 turn types would be particularly prone to opening by themselves if subjected to vibrations such as you describe.
Strange things do occur & unlike your letting agents, I can quite believe it.
I have had 2 recent episodes of similar things happening.
1 was a lever valve on a riser pipe to a shower head, essentially just a tap between the shower valve & the rain head. This had a coarse threaded 1/2 turn percussive valve & was turning itself on, all by itself. These type of valves were used in some taps during the 90's particularly & when they get a bit worn can have a tendency to do this. Perhaps why we don't see them much nowadays.
Another 1 which is current & a very unusual problem which is still under investigation is in a downstairs WC. When the hot basin tap is opened & the wc is flushed, the hot tap flow drops & splutters. Meanwhile the hot tap in the kitchen starts dribbling all by itself whilst making a whining noise. This is poignant as it goes to demonstrate that pressure fluctuations can under certain circumstances cause taps to run all by themselves.
Harmonic resonance from vibrations in plumbing systems can cause things to shake loose. Just like nuts & bolts can on all kinds of different things.
What I suggest you do is to contact your water company & explain this to them with the problem you have with your agents. Ask them to provide you with a statement to similar effect as above, in order to back up what you are saying.
Lisa, I 100% accept what you are saying & can categorically tell you that the type of circumstances you describe are far from the confines of any myth.

Strange but true & I hope this helps.

Best of luck,



Answered 5th Dec 2016

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