Clean a Faucet Aerator for Better Water

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It’s important to clean a faucet aerator periodically to remove buildup. A clogged faucet aerator reduces water flow. Keeping an aerator clean also helps limit exposure to lead in water. Here’s a quick and simple way to clean a faucet aerator.

Clean a faucet aerator regularly.
Many faucet aerators can easily be removed by hand.

What Is a Faucet Aerator?

An aerator is a small attachment you’ll find on the tip of most faucets. It’s a small device with a fine-mesh screen that’s usually screwed on. As water flows through the mesh screen, it mixes with air and only a certain portion of it goes through. The mesh filters out debris and gives water an even flow with fewer splashes. An aerator is not to be confused with a water filter, which affects the whole home’s water supply. 

How Faucet Aerators Get Clogged

Most tap water contains minerals. These minerals leave deposits as water evaporates. You may have noticed deposits on fixtures, glasses or eating utensils. Water flow is reduced when minerals or other deposits fill the holes in the aerator’s screen.

How Does a Clean Aerator Limit Lead Exposure?

Pipes, solder or fixtures that contain lead can break down or leach into water. As water runs through the aerator, particles containing lead may lodge in the screen.

How Can I Tell If My Faucet Has An Aerator?

If you touch the end of the faucet and feel a screen, your faucet has an aerator. Faucets with an attached water filter don’t have aerators. Some faucets contain an aerator that’s embedded rather than attached. For these faucets you can refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for  cleaning before disassembling the fixture to find the screen.

How Often Should I Clean A Faucet Aerator?

It’s a good idea to clean them when they’re clogged. Some people recommend cleaning an aerator as often as once a week. That can add up fast especially if you have multiple bathrooms. Others will say twice a year is enough. Bottom line, as long as they’re functioning. If you want to keep up on maintenance you can replace or clean an aerator every year or so. They are inexpensive and easy to install. 

Cleaning a Faucet Aerator: Step-By-Step

Clean a faucet aerator to remove hard-water buildup.
The housing, screen and mixer of this aerator show the effects of hard-water buildup.

Supplies:

  • Rags
  • Wrench
  • Old toothbrush
  • Safety pin
  • White vinegar
  • Small tub or glass

Instructions:

  1. Place the rag in the sink to prevent small parts from falling down the drain.
  2. Use your fingers to twist off the aerator. If you need to use a wrench, wrap another rag around the faucet to protect if from scratches.
  3. Take the aerator apart, noting the order of assembly for later. Your aerator may have several parts, including a housing, washer, screen or mixer.
  4. Place all parts in a container with vinegar. Soak for about five minutes.
  5. Scrub the parts with an old toothbrush. Use a pin to poke through any remaining clogs in the screen or mixer.
  6. Put the pieces back together and screw the aerator on the faucet.

If the aerator or washer is in bad shape, you can visit a home improvement store and buy a new one.

When you clean a faucet aerator periodically it improves the water quality and flow from your tap. If your water is brown or rust colored, there could be a problem with the pipes or other plumbing fixtures. Contact Simpson Plumbing for a plumbing inspection or pipe repair.

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