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How to Clean a Faucet Aerator: 6 Easy Steps

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Making sure the water in your home is clean without calling out a plumber for every task can help save you a lot of money. Even if the job is relatively simple, there will still be call-out charges.

One straightforward task is cleaning faucet aerators. You will not need any specialist skills to do this, just a few pieces of equipment that you can usually find around your home.

So if you’re wondering how to clean a faucet aerator, we’ve got you covered with 6 simple steps.

What Is An Aerator?

A faucet aerator is attached at the end of the faucet spout and draws air into the water stream, breaking the flow, which then passes through a mesh screen that evenly spreads the stream of water.

Benefits Of A Clean Faucet Aerator

There are many benefits to having an aerator in your faucet that includes the following;

Reduce water bills

An aerator will allow you greater control over your water pressure. Better water pressure means less water is needed to carry out the same jobs, helping to stop water wastage in the home and reduce your water bill.

A blocked aerator results in poor water flow and pressure which could impact your bills.

Improve the water flow

A clogged faucet aerator will not be able to perform to its highest capability. Using faucet aerators with low flow rates will help reduce your water bill, but you must ensure they are regularly cleaned.

If you notice a drop in pressure or a disappointing flow, it may be time to clean it.

Remove debris and dirt

Over time, your aerator screen can start to get clogged up with mineral deposits, calcium deposits, and other debris. Cleaning the screen at least every six months is advised.

If construction work occurs on your property or nearby, this can also cause dirt and grit to enter your water supply. This can build up on the faucet screen resulting in low water flow unless cleaned.

Reduce lead exposure

Though using lead in piping tends to be a thing of the past, some older service lines and plumbing systems still contain it. Lead particles can flake off and be caught in the aerator screen; regularly cleaning will help you remove this.

Equipment And Tools Needed To Clean Faucet Aerators

Making sure you have everything you need to clean an aerator before starting can make the job much easier. Here are the tools and materials required to remove and clean a faucet aerator.

  • Replacement cache aerator
  • Hairdryer or lighter
  • Penetrating oil
  • Masking tape or electrical tape
  • Channellock pliers
  • White vinegar
  • Paper clip or toothpick
  • Small screwdriver
  • Aerator key

It is likely that you already have most of the items needed. Anything else can be picked up from a home improvement store.

How To Clean A Faucet Aerator

Now that you have everything you need to start cleaning your aerator, you can now remove the aerator from the faucet.

Step 1

External aerators can usually be unscrewed by hand as they are easy to reach. If this can’t be done or you are dealing with a hidden or recessed aerator, you may need to use pliers.

Hidden and recessed aerators often require a key that unscrews them. This usually comes with the new faucet or it can be sourced separately.

Cover the plier jaws with either masking tape or electrical tape, so it doesn’t scratch your aerator. Unscrew the aerator gently as it will be delicate.

If it is still stuck, you will be able to carefully apply heat using a lighter or hairdryer, which should help to alleviate the metal. Some aerator parts are made of plastic, so you will have to be very careful not to melt these.

If this doesn’t work, spraying penetrating oil on the aerator and allowing ten minutes should help. After you have allowed this time, remove any excess oil before trying to unscrew it again.

Step 2

When the aerator is removed, you should check the faucet spout for any debris. You can also use your finger or a small screwdriver to check for any parts that may still be in there.

Step 3

You will now be able to disassemble the aerator. This can be pretty challenging, and using a toothpick or paperclip may help. It would be best if you also noted how the parts fit together for when you have to reassemble them.

Aerator parts include the hollow metal cylinder with a threaded end that attaches to your faucet. Inside this cylinder, you will find a mixer disc, rubber washer, and tiny screen. There may be other components that include a flow restrictor and inner plastic housing to secure the parts.

You should rinse the large pieces and use a sewing needle to clean areas of the aerator screen that are blocked.

If the screen is rusted or you notice any parts are damaged or worn, you should use a replacement aerator rather than fixing or cleaning the old one.

Step 4

You should then soak the parts in white vinegar to help dissolve mineral deposits. Leaving this overnight should be long enough for you to clean them with an old toothbrush.

Step 5

You will then be able to rinse the parts, flushing out loose debris. You might also want to use a cleaning solution to remove any last traces of dirt or debris before rinsing clean again and reassembling the parts.

Step 6

When the aerator is fully assembled, screw it counterclockwise back onto the faucet spout by hand. This should be enough to refit it. To test it has been fitted tightly enough, run your tap. If the water splashes out the sides or drips, you can use your pliers to tighten further.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to clean a faucet aerator won’t take you very long at all but can result in cleaner water, a better performance from your faucet, lower water bills, and will save you from having to pay expensive call-out charges for plumbers.

Cleaning faucet aerators is one of the easier jobs you will be able to do yourself and will not take long if you have the correct tools and equipment in place before starting.

If you end up needing to replace your aerator, make sure you check out our guide on the different faucet aerator sizes to find the right one!

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