At the end of most bathroom and kitchen faucets is a fitting known as a faucet aerator. This faucet mixes air into the water as it flows through the aerator faucet to create a steady stream of numerous tiny water droplets. The sink aerator also serves to limit water flow. This combination of air injection and low faucet flow helps reduce overall water usage.
However, the faucet screen in the aerator can become clogged with mineral deposits or coated with iron oxide residue, resulting in low water pressure and an erratic spray pattern. To solve this problem, it is helpful to know how to clean a faucet aerator.
The first step is to learn how to remove a faucet aerator without damaging the faucet. After removing the aerator, the next step is to learn how to clean the aerator on a kitchen or bathroom faucet. It’s a relatively easy task that shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
RELATED: 12 things to help you save water at home
Tools & Materials
working time: 15 minutes
total time: 45 minutes
skill level: Beginner
Estimated costs: $0-$45
BEFORE YOU START
Learning to clean a faucet aerator is a basic task that many novice DIYers can handle, but you still need to be careful as you work to ensure you don’t damage the aerator or lose any part of this faucet during disassembly or assembly.
Consider preparing a small bucket or container to keep the parts safe when not in use and be sure to take a photo or photos as you work to ensure the parts are reattached in the correct order will.
Also, place a towel or plug in the bottom of the sink to prevent bits from falling down the drain.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Fix a Sink Plug
STEP 1: Remove the aerator from the faucet.
An aerator attaches to the end of your faucet. You can loosen the aerator by gripping it firmly and turning it clockwise. If the aerator does not move when you try to loosen it by hand, use tongue and groove pliers to gently grasp the aerator and turn clockwise. Keep in mind that the metal teeth of the pliers can damage the exterior of the aerator if you apply too much pressure.
To get a better grip on the aerator without damaging it, apply a strip of masking tape to the outside of the aerator. This protective layer prevents the pliers from scratching the surface.
If you can’t find the aerator, your faucet may not have one or it may be hidden in the end of the faucet. You can remove a hidden aerator with a special tool known as a faucet aerator wrench.
If you were unable to remove the aerator from the faucet, the aerator could be seized due to mineral deposits. You can still clean the parts by filling a small plastic bag with vinegar and tying the bag to the end of the faucet and submerging the aerator. After soaking the aerator, try removing it again.
STEP 2: Look for dirt and disassemble the aerator.
With the aerator removed, check the interior for hard water debris or accumulated debris that could bind the parts together. Use your finger or a small screwdriver to gently scrape away any mineral deposits to loosen the aerator parts. Once you’re free, you can disassemble the aerator and take photos as you disassemble the pieces to make sure they reassemble in the correct order. Keep the pieces in a safe place to avoid losing them.
Faucet aerators consist of several parts that sit within the metal aerator body, including an outer housing, screen, bushing, mixer, flow restrictor, and washer. A toothpick or similar small and thin object can help pry the aerator parts apart and remove any dirt that is trapped in the threads or blocking the holes in the screen.
RELATED: 12 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Clean With Bartenders Friend
STEP 3: Rinse off any loose residue and soak the aerator in vinegar.
Thoroughly rinse each part of the aerator and inspect for signs of significant damage. If the internal parts of the aerator are damaged, it is recommended that this fitting be completely replaced. Simple cleaning cannot restore proper flow or function. Some debris and dirt cannot be flushed off the aerator parts. Instead, you should proceed as if you were learning how to clean a faucet head.
Prepare a bucket or container with enough white vinegar to completely submerge the aerator parts. Place the pieces of the aerator in the container and allow the vinegar to break down the gooey residue over the next 20 to 30 minutes.
STEP 4: Scrub the aerator clean with a toothbrush.
After soaking the aerator parts in vinegar, most of the dirt and mineral buildup should be gone, but to ensure the faucet is completely clean you can use an old toothbrush to scrub the parts.
In the bathroom, hold the strainer and blender up to the light to inspect the parts for residue. The tough bristles of a toothbrush can get into small holes and crevices, breaking up any remaining fragments. Proceed slowly to avoid damaging the parts.
STEP 5: Flush the aerator, reassemble and reinstall.
Run the faucet to flush every part of the aerator before carefully reassembling this fitting. Use the pictures you took during disassembly to ensure the parts are put back in the correct order. Once the aerator is reassembled, you can reattach it to the faucet.
Using your hands, gently screw the aerator into the end of the faucet and turn counterclockwise to tighten the fitting. Turn on the water to test the water flow. You may only need to hand tighten the aerator, but if water is splashing or squirting out the side of the faucet, use a wrench to finish tightening the aerator.
RELATED: How to Install a Faucet
Cleaning a faucet aerator is a simple task that you can typically complete in under an hour without expensive parts or fixes, which is a great incentive to tackle the task sooner rather than later. Be sure to inspect and clean the aerator at least twice a year to prevent mineral deposits from forming. If work is being done on the plumbing system or water lines in the neighborhood, you may need to clean the aerator more frequently, e.g. B. once a month.
During the inspection and cleaning process, you may come across broken or badly worn parts. In this case, do not hesitate to replace the aerator for your faucet. Attempting to use a broken faucet will only create more problems. A new faucet aerator isn’t overly expensive, just take the old one to the store with you when looking for a compatible replacement.