Over time, aerators can develop mineral buildups or other obstructions that interfere with water flow. Thankfully, it’s easy to check and clean your faucet aerators. What will you need for the task?
- tape (masking or electrical works well)
- an old toothbrush
Remove the Faucet Aerator
To remove your faucet aerator, try unscrewing it with your fingers. They’ll often give and come off easily.
If the aerator is stuck in place, you’ll need to use pliers to unfasten it. First, wrap some tape around the aerator so that the pliers don’t scratch the aerator’s finish. The tape will also make it easier for the pliers to grip the aerator. Once it’s taped, unscrew the aerator with pliers.
Disassemble the Faucet Aerator
NOTE: If you are working over your sink, you may want to plug or cover the sink drain before disassembling the aerator. The parts in the aerator are small and could easily slide down the drain. If those parts do slide down the drain, please read our post about how to clean a P-Trap to recover those small pieces.
To disassemble the aerator, push the internal components out of the housing. If the aerator is too small for your fingers to fit in, the handle end of the wrench should be small enough to push the parts out. Just make sure you’re gentle. You don’t want to push hard enough to break the screen. If you break the screen, you’ll need to go get a new aerator from a hardware store or home center.
Sometimes mineral buildup makes it difficult to remove an aerator’s internal components. When this happens, soaking the aerator in vinegar or a 50-50 mix of vinegar and water for half an hour will dissolve the minerals. Then, it should be easy to disassemble the aerator.
Clean the Faucet Aerator
To clean the faucet aerator, gently scrub each piece with an old toothbrush. Again, be careful not to bend or break the screen. Soaking the parts in vinegar will remove any stubborn minerals.
Reassemble the Faucet Aerator
Once the aerator is clean, reassemble it by putting the components back into the housing in the reverse order that you removed them. They should go in the following order: the screen, then the disk, and then the washer or O-ring.
Faucet aerators that are neglected not only fail at their job of aerating the water, but they look messy and uncared-for. A little preventive maintenance lets them shine with the rest of your house.
Remove any tape you used, and screw the aerator back in place with your fingers. Finger-tight should be snug enough.
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