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How to Remove a Recessed Faucet Aerator

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Calling a plumber to come out can be expensive. Learning to carry out minor plumbing emergencies yourself can resolve your issue quickly and save you a lot of money.

If you’ve figured out that your faucet aerator is stuck and recessed in your faucet, we’re here to help.

Thankfully removing a recessed faucet aerator isn’t too difficult.

If you do have to call a plumber out for a problem, don’t be shy in asking what the problem is and how it can be fixed. It could be that the next time this issue occurs, you might be able to handle it yourself.

This guide will help take you through the step-by-step process of removing a recessed faucet aerator.

What Is An Aerator?

Faucet aerators are used in modern sinks and provide a number of benefits, including;

  • Reducing noise
  • Maintaining a steady flow and even water pressure
  • Shaping the water stream
  • Reduce splashing
  • Introducing oxygen into the water flow
  • Filtering the water
  • Saves water

Most people will not know that an aerator is even present, let alone the importance of regular maintenance. It is advised that your aerator should be removed and cleaned around once every six months.

Cleaning after nearby maintenance is also recommended as dirt, grit, or mineral deposits can get into your water supply and block your aerator.

Monitoring your water flow rates can be tricky, but an aerator will help limit the water you use while still allowing enough for dishwashing or cleaning hands. Aerators significantly reduce water wastage will help to save you money on water bills.

Aerator Types

Two types of aerators are used on modern faucets.

External aerators – External aerators are screwed on the outside and can easily be removed using a wrench or pliers.

Hidden aerators – These can also be called recessed aerators or cache aerators and are fitted internally. They can be more challenging to remove than external options, but it is still a relatively straightforward job to remove one. This guide will take you through the simple steps that will help you remove a recessed aerator.

There are also 4 primary faucet aerator sizes to pick from.

Tools And Supplies Needed To Remove A Recessed Faucet Aerator

Having the right tools in place will enable you to carry out the job without any issues. Here are the items you will most likely require for removing a hidden aerator:

  • Replacement cache aerator
  • Hairdryer or lighter
  • Penetrating oil
  • Masking tape
  • Channellock pliers

The benefit of having Channellock pliers is that they are designed to turn irregularly shaped screws and nuts or hold objects.

Penetrating oil helps lubricate stuck or rusted parts, and the most commonly used brand is WD-40.

A replacement aerator might not be necessary. However, having a spare is recommended in case the one you are removing is not in good enough shape to be put back in.

How To Remove The Recessed Faucet Aerator

Hidden aerators typically come with a key that allows you to unscrew them. If you don’t have one and can’t source a replacement, here are the simple steps you need to take to remove an aerator without a key.

Step 1

If you are unable to unscrew the aerator by hand, you will be able to use your pliers. First, you should cover the metal surface of the aerator with masking tape. This will stop it from getting scratched when the pliers grip it.

Ensure you are gripping the aerator and not the faucet spout. You can then start to unscrew the aerator counter-clockwise. The metal on an aerator is relatively delicate, so you should be gentle to avoid denting it.

Step 2

If the aerator is not moving, applying some heat using a hairdryer or lighter can alleviate the metal. You will have to be careful when doing this, as some aerator parts are made of plastic and can melt.

Step 3

If all else fails, you should apply your penetrating oil by spraying the aerator threads and leaving for 10-15 minutes.

After this, make sure to wash off the excess oil and reapply the pliers so you can start unscrewing the aerator.

Step 4

When you have removed the aerator, you will have to clean it before screwing it back in. Simply soak it in white vinegar for around five minutes before scrubbing the parts with a toothbrush. After rinsing it off, you will be able to put it back in the faucet if its condition allows.

If the aerator screen is rusted, it is advisable to replace it with a fresh one.

Step 5

You will now be able to screw in either the cleaned aerator or the replacement. This should be done by hand.

After it is secure, turn on the faucet to ensure there is no dripping around the aerator. If there is, you can tighten it further using the pliers.

Final Thoughts

The importance of a well-functioning cache aerator can’t be underestimated. You will have cleaner water, save money on water bills, allow a high-pressure flow of your hot and cold water, and reduce noise and splashing.

Taking the time to clean your faucet aerator can improve performance and prolong its life. You will also avoid costly call-outs that can be avoided, all by taking advantage of a few tools that you likely have sitting in a kitchen drawer.

A hidden or recessed aerator should not cost much, multipacks usually cost under $10 meaning you can have a spare should you need one in the future.

If you find out our aerator isn’t recessed, check out our more general guide on how to remove a faucet aerator.

Whether you are having issues with a kitchen faucet, need to clean bathroom faucets, or just want to improve their performance without having to pay a plumber or buy replacements, removing and cleaning an aerator could help.

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