Many faucet heads are fitted with an aerator, which is a small attachment with a fine screen. This attachment restricts the water flow just enough so that it has time to mix with air and emerge as an oxygenated spray rather than a solid stream. Aerators can become blocked by mineral deposits and the metal screens are subject to breakage and corrosion. They can also leak when the washers become worn. Removing and cleaning or replacing an aerator is a 5-minute job.
Things You'll Need
- Rubber glove
- Channel-locking pliers
- Spray lubricant
Turn off the tap so the water is not running. You don't need to turn off the valve which supplies water to the faucet for this repair.
Hold a rubber glove around the aerator and grip it with channel-locking pliers. Apply counter-clockwise pressure until the aerator becomes loose, then finish unscrewing it by hand. If the aerator won't turn, spray lubricant on it, wait about 5 minutes, then try turning it again.
Leave the aerator off if you want the faucet to produce a solid stream of water.
Clean a dirty aerator by prying the screen with a small slot screwdriver. If it is full of mineral deposits but otherwise in good condition, clean with a solution of vinegar and water, replace the screen and screw the aerator back on.
Replace the washer if it is worn. A sign that the washer is worn is that water has been spraying from the head of the faucet.
Replace the aerator if the the screen is broken or too corroded to save. You may be able to just replace the screen, but aerators are inexpensive and it will probably be easier to replace the whole unit. Bring the aerator with you to the building supply store to use to find a replacement.
Replace the aerator by screwing it back on and tightening it by hand. Then turn on the tap and verify that it works properly.
Tips & Warnings
- Besides producing an oxygenated spray, aerators also save water by restricting the water flow.
- Aerators with a special attachment can be used to divert water to a filter.
- Photo Credit faucet image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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