How to Remove a Faucet Aerator And When You Should You Change It

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If all the faucets in your house are functioning normally and one is suffering from low pressure, then you may be surprised to hear that the solution is very simple. It may be as easy as cleaning the aerator valve.

Faucet aerators tend to get blocked with dirt or mineral buildup over time in areas where there is high mineral content in the water. When the aerator is cleaned, then water will flow like it used to. 

This fitting is often unknown to many people. People often call a plumber to repair something that is very easy to fix. 

In the article we will look at what an aerator is and what it does. We will also look at how to tell when your aerator is not working and what are the main signs that your aerator is done for.

So let’s not wait anymore and get you the information you need!

What Is an Aerator?

Aerator Faucet

Aerators are small screens that go on the mouth of the faucet. They break up the water into lots of tiny streams. This makes the water flow better and also puts air in it.

Aerators help you use less water. They make the water feel like it is coming out quickly and with a lot of pressure, but they actually use less water. Aerators also help to stop the water from splashing out of the sink.

Why Should You Install A Faucet Aerator

man washing hands with a Faucet Aerator

The two main purposes for installing an aerator are to save on water, which will also help save money on your monthly utility bills…

Aerators are a great way to save water and energy. When it comes to helping the environment, there are few plumbing parts that can compete with a simple aerator. In fact, the EPA states that installing a faucet aerator is the number one method to reduce the amount of water that is used in a household bar none.

Required Tools and Materials

Tools

GTSE Masking Tape, 2 inches x 55 Yards (164 ft), Multi-Surface Adhesive Painting Tape, 2 Rolls

Masking tape or cloth

IRWIN Tools VISE-GRIP Groove Joint Pliers, Curved Jaw, 6-Inch (2078506)

Channel-type pliers

Scrubbing Brush Heavy Duty, Stiff Bristle Brush with Scraper - Wooden Scrub Brush, Bristle Brush for Cleaning, Lawn Mower Deck Scraper, Mower Cleaning Tool, Universal Outdoor Scrub Brush with Handle

Stiff brush

Rusk Engineering Speed Freak Professional 2000 Watt Dryer, Reduces Drying Time, Features Ceramic and Tourmaline to Emit Far-Infrared Heat that Penetrates Hair, 1 Count (Pack of 1)

Hair dryer (if required)

Materials

Gasoila Free All Deep Penetrating Oil with Precision Straw for Pinpoint Accuracy - The Original Rust Eater, 11 oz Aerosol

Penetrating oil (if needed)

OXO BREW Descaling Solution - 14 Fluid Ounce Bottle

Descaling calcium/ Lime-dissolving solution (if required)

How To Remove A Faucet Aerator

two pieces of Aerator

1. Unscrew With Your Hand

Attempt to undo the aerator from the end of the faucet using your hand. On most faucets these have been tightened on by hand, so they should be quite easy to remove.

2. Use Pliers or a Rubber Wrench

If you are unable to remove the aerator by hand, try using pliers. If you plan to reuse it, before unscrewing it, put a small cloth or rag around it or stick some masking tape to prevent any damage to the surface. 

Use a rubber wrench, as it will provide a studier grip if pliers are not doing the job. Clasp the faucet aerator with either the pliers or the rubber wrench, and turn it clockwise. If need be, turn it anti-clockwise until it starts to move. 

Caution: Aerators are usually “reverse-threaded,” but it is just the orientation you are looking at it from. Because you are looking at it from above, if you were to look at it from below then you would see it is screwed in normally. Clockwise to unscrew and anti-clockwise to unscrew.

3. Heat the Aerator

If pliers don’t work, then you can try using a hairdryer, heating the metal slightly. Alternatively, you can use a cigarette lighter to heat the aerator, be careful, as the flame may leave a burn mark on the metal. 

On some models of faucets, the aerators can be made of plastic. In this case, do not use an open flame to remove these or have the hairdryer set at high.

4. Use Penetrating Oil

If the heat has not worked to help move the aerator, then it’s time to loosen it using some penetrating oil. Spray some grease such as WD-40 directly onto the threads and wait until it gets soaked in… Before trying to unscrew the aerator, wipe off the oil from its surface. Oil on the metal makes it slippery and hard to grip.

5. Use Vinegar

If, so far, nothing has worked, then the next step would be to use vinegar. The vinegar can help to dissolve any corrosion or debris that may have built up over time and will make it easier to remove the aerator.

Fill a small bag with distilled white vinegar and tie the bag around the faucet, soaking the aerator with the liquid. Let it sit for a couple of hours, allowing the vinegar to loosen any mineral build-up.

6. Clean the Aerator

When you take the aerator off, be careful as there are many small parts. Note how they are arranged so that you can reassemble them with ease.

In order to clean the aerator properly, you will need a small brush. Soaking the unit in vinegar for a few hours will loosen any mineral build-up without damaging the aerator.

7. Reassemble the Faucet

To reinstall the aerator, reassemble the parts in reverse order to how they were removed and then attach them back to the faucet after.

Screw in the aerator using your hands and then test to make sure there isn’t a leak. If you find water escaping from the side, then simply tighten it a little more. You can use a set of pliers to tighten further if the water leak continues but be gentle as you don’t want to damage the metal part.

8. When to Call a Plumber

If you have tried everything and you still can’t get the aerator to budge, then it may be time to call in a professional. It would appear that the faucet is corroded in position and needs a new aerator or a new faucet altogether.

When to Replace Your Faucet Aerator

Knowing when to change your aerator can be very important as the water will stop flowing properly. There are certain signs that will indicate that the aerator needs replacing.

a. Mineral Build-up

Although it’s common for mineral deposits to gather inside your faucet aerator over time, these will impede water from flowing through the device correctly.

Water pressure will most likely drop due to the build-up. Soaking in vinegar or removing the aerator and cleaning it, and flushing it should fix the issue.

b. Corrosion

Corrosion usually takes time, and if you don’t clean your faucet aerator on a regular basis, then it will most definitely corrode. If your aerator has deteriorated to the point of no return, then it would make sense to get a new one.

c.  Low Flow

Faucet aerators help control the amount of water that comes out of the faucet. If very little water is coming out or it’s only coming from one side, then it might be because the aerator is dirty or needs to be replaced.

d. Water Coming Out of One Side

You should be able to get water from both sides of the faucet when it is working properly. If you are only getting water from one side, then it may be time to clean or buy a new aerator.

e. Your Faucet Aerator is a Year Old

A faucet aerator usually lasts around a year. Most aerator’s that are over a year old either start to corrode or you will have calcium build-up due to hard water and, consequently low water flow. 

One year is not the magic number of course. It all depends on how often you use it and how hard the water is in your area. Keep an eye on the water flow and clean the aerator once or twice a month to prolong its life.

Related Questions

How do you disinfect a faucet aerator?

Remove the aerator and use a small brush and some vinegar to clean it. If required you can soak overnight in vinegar to remove more stubborn corrosion and mineral build-up.

How often should you clean your faucet aerator?

Different people say different things about how often to clean your faucet aerator. Some people say that if you clean it every week, it will work better. Others say that if you clean it twice a year, it will be fine.

If you notice that it is not flowing as well as usual, then the aerator needs to be cleaned. 

How does a faucet aerator save energy?

An aerator is a wonderful little device and extremely underrated. As we discussed quite extensively, a low-flow aerator will save you water, but if you are using less water and have hot showers, then the amount of water that needs to be heated is also reduced, which in turn reduces your energy bill. 

How much water does a faucet aerator save?

A low-flow aerator not only saves you water but it will save energy too. Adding air to the mixture allows the aerator to not only reduce the amount of water coming out of the faucet, but it does not affect the water pressure while doing so.

By installing an aerator in your home, you can save between 3 to 16 gallons of water every day, which equates to a lower water bill. 

Are faucet aerators universal?

There are many types of aerators available. The main two different types are the swivel aerator and the stationary aerator.

A stationary aerator is a type of aerator that is fixed to the faucet end. It doesn’t move around and it makes the water softer and bigger.

With the swivel aerator you can direct the water in different directions. This type of aerator has a very elegant design and is becoming more popular in homes now.

Conclusion

Faucet aerators are a very useful gadget in your home and a great way to save money and help the environment. Use less water in areas of your home where you use it most. Conserve energy by using less water in your kitchen or bathroom sink. Best of all, you will not notice the difference in water pressure as they add air to the water flow.

Cleaning and maintaining the aerator regularly will not only prevent the aerator from malfunctioning, but your aerator will last longer. Following the simple process outlined above, you can help maintain strong water flow from your aerator.

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