A faucet aerator is a little add-on on a faucet that fits onto the spout at the end. The aerator performs several functions. However, some types of faucets don’t have an aerator.
If you’re not sure whether your faucet has one, then you should check the kind of stream that is coming from the faucet spout upon turning on the water.
If water flows as a controlled, steady stream with air bubbles, then it’s most likely passing through a faucet aerator. However, if water comes out the way a stream falls down a mountain, then the faucet may not have an aerator.
A major function of an aerator is to ensure that water flows down into a cup or any other container without spraying against the sides of your sink and get wasted.
The aerator also limits the flow of water, thereby assisting in conserving water. It does so using its fine screen. The screen separates the flowing water into several tiny streams.
Consequently, the water gets oxygenated upon being exposed to the open atmosphere. This is why it’s known as an aerator.
Aerators are prone to clogging as a result of the mineral deposits they collect over time. Clogs can reduce the flow of water.
Sadly, most people mistake the reduced water flow problem as an issue with the faucet itself or water supply lines. They end up spending a lot of money to hire a plumber for something they would easily resolve themselves with some vinegar and pliers.
If you notice that the water flowing from your faucet has a reduced flow, start with checking the aerator before calling your plumber.
Know the Design of Your Aerator
An aerator is usually screwed in the mouth area of the spout. The aerator may have either female or male threads.
This depends on its design. Basically, kitchen faucets that have long spouts and male threads such that the type of aerators that can fit in them are those with female threads.
On the other hand, bathroom faucets usually come with female threads such that they only accept male-threaded aerators.
You’ll simply unscrew the aerator to remove it regardless of the thread design. Once you unscrew it, separate its components. These components include:
- An outer casing- The aerator has an outer casing, which is a plastic or metal housing that houses all the components. The casing is the part that threads onto the spout.
- Inner housing– This component is usually made of plastic and fits into within the outer casing.
- Aerator screen– The aerator screen is usually installed on a ridge within the housing. It performs most of the faucet aerator functions and collects sediment.
- Screen bushing– The role of the aerator screen bushing is to keep the aerator screen in position. It’s made of plastic and fits on the opening area of an aerator housing.
- The aerator washer– The washer is a rubber ring that seats on the screen bushing. It seals the bushing against the spout.
Besides these components, most aerators have two other parts, which are the mixer and the flow restrictor. The mixer is made up of a disk that has several holes. It buffers the flow of water to avoid damaging the aerator screen.
The flow restrictor is another separate disk. It has one hole for reducing the flow of water. Some states require using faucets that have aerators with flow restrictors.
Useful tips– When taking apart the faucet aerator components, inspect them and replace all the damaged or worn-out components.
Ensure you note all the components and where you removed them. Failure to reinstall one of the components can cause leaks in the aerator.
Cleaning the Aerator
In case the flow of water from the faucet has reduced significantly, then the aerator might require cleaning. Water sediment and deposits may collect and accumulate on the aerator screen, thereby clogging it.
Cleaning an aerator is quite easy. It would only take 5 minutes at most to clean it. Here’s a guide on cleaning the aerator:
The tools and supplies you need include:
- White vinegar (distilled)
Step 1– First, turn off your faucet.
Step 2– Take a rag and wrap the aerator. Doing so will protect it from getting damaged when unscrewing it. Next, take a pair pliers and use it to turn the aerator counterclockwise until it feels loose. Then use your fingers to unscrew it completely.
Step 3– Hold the aerator facing upside down and place it under your faucet. Next, turn on your faucet. Doing so will allow water to back-flush the aerator screen, thereby removing the lodged sediment.
Step 4– Next, remove the washer and keep it aside in a secure place. Add white vinegar in a bowl. Soak the remaining aerator components in the white vinegar overnight.
The white vinegar will assist in dissolving the deposits that remain behind after back-flushing the aerator.
Step 5– Take the washer and install it back the way you removed it from the aerator. Then reinstall the aerator on the faucet spout by screwing it with your fingers.
Wrap a rag around it and use pliers to tighten it such that water won’t leak around the aerator. Once done, turn on your faucet. In case the aerator is leaking, tighten it harder.
Choosing a Replacement Aerator
In case your aerator looks damaged or your faucet doesn’t have an aerator and you want to install one, then start with measuring the faucet to get a fitting one. Aerators are manufactured with standard metric and imperial sizes.
The best way of getting a matching replacement aerator is to carry the old one along with you when shopping. In case your faucet doesn’t have an aerator, try the following tricks to take the measurements:
Hold a dime, a quarter, and nickel under the opening of the faucet. Choose a coin that matches closely with the opening.
You should buy an aerator of that size. A faucet opening that matches the quarter would need a regular-sized aerator.
A faucet opening that matches the nickel would be a junior-size aerator and the faucet opening that would match the dime would need the “Tom Thumb” size aerator.
In case none of the coins match your faucet opening, then it might need a metric-size aerator. In this case, use a tape measure or ruler to measure the faucet diameter. Get an aerator of that diameter.
Useful tips- Faucet aerators are quite inexpensive. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your budget. If the aerator screen looks damaged, you may save some money by only replacing the screen. Use the above guidelines to get a matching replacement.