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How to Remove a Faucet Aerator

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Learning how to take care of simple plumbing tasks will help you resolve any issues you may have around the home and save a lot of money.

Calling out a plumber, even for quick and simple tasks, can be expensive as there will be a call-out charge and the cost for fixing any problems. We can help by guiding you through some of the more straightforward plumbing tasks you will likely encounter. One of those is how to remove a faucet aerator.

What Is An Aerator?

An aerator is an attachment fitted to the end of a faucet that helps to regulate the flow. This allows the user to save water without compromising their water pressure.

It works by mixing air into the water flow and narrowing the space the water passes through. This helps to maintain the water pressure and leaves you with a water flow that is much more efficient. Reducing waste from your water supply will also help to save you money on your water bill.

Why Should You Remove An Aerator?

Knowing the benefits of an aerator is helpful, as is understanding how to maintain one to ensure maximum performance.

A good aerator will help to manage your water usage efficiently. However, if there are problems with an aerator, you might find you have a poor flow. Here are the main reasons you will come across for having to remove an aerator.

It is blocked

Keeping your bathroom or kitchen faucet aerator clear is vital to achieving good performance. A continuous proper water flow can result in a build-up of dirt or debris and limescale and mineral deposits.

Regularly cleaning your faucet aerator will help to stop any blockages from developing.

To replace it

As with any piece of equipment that contains several small parts and is regularly used, there comes a time when you need to replace it.

An aerator is usually be made of the following components, which should be cleaned and checked every six months:

  • Outer casing – The outer casing will be either metal or plastic and is the part that allows you to thread onto the faucet spout.
  • Inner housing – The inner housing fits within the outer casing. This is usually made of plastic.
  • Aerator screen – The small screen allows the water to pass through and separates its stream, mixing air into the flow. This screen also stops sediment, dirt, or grit from flowing.
  • Screen bushing – To stop the aerator screen from moving as the water is turned on and off, the screen bushing holds it in place.
  • The aerator rubber washer – This washer seals the bushing against the faucet spout and holds it firmly in place.
  • Mixer – The mixer buffers the water flow by passing it through a disk with several holes, protecting the screen.
  • Flow restrictor – The flow restrictor helps to reduce the water flow and concentrate the water that comes out. This allows for less water to be used without sacrificing performance.

It is corroded

If your aerator is corroded, the rust can block the flow of the water. In this case, you would have to replace the aerator.

To clean

The most common reason you will remove an aerator is to clean it. Regular maintenance will help to prolong the life of your aerator and its components and can guarantee better performance.

Tools Needed To Remove Aerators

Removing faucet aerators is usually a simple task that won’t require tools and should only take a few minutes. However, it is always better to be prepared for every eventuality. If the aerator is tough to remove, you will be able to use a combination of the following equipment and tools to remove the stuck faucet aerator.

  • White vinegar
  • WD-40 / penetrating oil
  • Adjustable and rubber-coated pliers
  • Rubber wrench
  • Pliers
  • Soft, clean towel
  • Hairdryer/heat gun/lighter
  • Masking tape
  • Cache aerator key

How To Remove An Aerator

Removing an aerator should be a case of getting a firm grip before you unscrew it by hand. Unfortunately, this is not always the case if the aerator is stuck.

If you have a recessed aerator, also known as a hidden aerator, or cache aerator, you should check our how to remove a recessed aerator guide.

It is always important to remember to seal your sink before attempting to remove a faucet aerator. Because there are a number of small components, the last thing you want when struggling with tools to free a stuck aerator is for tiny parts to fall down the drain.

How To Remove A Stuck Aerator

If your aerator is too difficult to remove by hand, here are some alternative ways to remove it.

Pliers

If you plan to use pliers to unscrew your aerator, covering it (or the pliers) in masking tape will help to protect it from being scratched.

If you plan on using the aerator again, try to be gentle when turning as they can be bent or distorted with too much force.

When you have a good grip, unscrew anticlockwise to remove the stubborn aerator.

Rubber wrench

Rubber wrenches should offer a tighter grip on your aerator. To try and loosen the aerator, try to twist first in one direction before trying the opposite direction if it does not move.

A rubber wrench should free stuck aerators, but there are still some other techniques if this is still proving to be too difficult.

Heat

Applying gentle heat on faucet aerators with a hairdryer, lighter, or heat gun can help loosen the metal. You must be very careful as most aerators contain plastic components, and melting them will ruin them.

Checking what the components are made of and using extreme caution is advised before applying heat to the faucet’s aerator.

Vinegar

Using white vinegar to soak debris, corrosion, and mineral deposits that can cause the aerator to become stuck can help loosen the aerator enough to remove it.

You can use a ziplock bag filled with vinegar and secured around the faucet spout to soak it for a few hours. After doing this, run the water through your faucet to flush out the loosened particles before drying and attempting to remove them.

WD-40

If all else fails, using a penetrating oil (the most famous of which is WD-40) could be your final throw of the dice.

Spray the aerator band thoroughly allowing the oil time to be absorbed before wiping off the excess oil for a better grip, and use your rubber wrench or pliers to twist the aerator screw.

Remember to work in a well-ventilated room when spraying anything like this. You can also wear rubber gloves if you find that it irritates your skin.

Final Thoughts

If penetrating oil does not work and you have exhausted all the above methods, you may need to call a professional plumber to help. While it is good to know some basic plumbing skills, it is essential to know when a professional should deal with a problem.

Continuing to try to remove a stuck faucet aerator could lead to further damage to the faucet. If you have attempted these techniques, letting the plumber know what you have attempted can also help to save them time, and they may be able to diagnose the problem more quickly.

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t face these problems. Removing a faucet aerator is usually a simple task, especially if it is not a recessed or hidden aerator.

When you have removed your faucet aerator, you will be able to check our guide on how to clean it thoroughly, so it remains in good working order. A new aerator should be used to replace rusted or damaged faucet aerators to avoid problems developing down the line.

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