Faucet aerators are helpful additions to kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. While you can technically use a faucet without an aerator, this is a less than perfect experience: the water splashes too vigorously in the sink and the water does not feel good on your hands.
Make sure that all of your bathroom and kitchen sink faucets have aerators that are in good working condition. Installing faucet aerators is the easiest and cheapest way to improve the quality of your sinks' water flow.
What Is a Faucet Aerator?
An aerator is a small device at the end of bathroom and kitchen sink faucets that has a mixer screen, a collar, and a neoprene gasket. Sometimes, the assembly will include a plastic or metal disk with a small hole to restrict flow to a water-saving 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute). All modern bathroom and kitchen sink faucets come with aerators.
The main purpose of these devices is to limit splashing and to help water taste better by introducing oxygen. Aerators are not needed for garden hoses or exterior hose bibs and in fact, they will only hamper their performance. Shower faucets and bathtub faucets do not require aerators, either.
Basics of Installing Faucet Aerators
The most basic type of faucet aerator is a round unit with a hole on one end and wire mesh on the other end. This type of aerator is removed from the faucet by manually turning the collar at the end of the faucet and dropping out the aerator from the collar. It is installed in reverse, with the addition of a neoprene gasket between the aerator and the faucet end. These aerators can be found at most home centers.
Another type of faucet aerator is particular to each brand of faucet. Since manufacturers' faucets can come in any number of shapes, their proprietary aerators are shaped for those faucets. These aerators are special orders and rarely found on the shelves of home centers. In many cases, Allen wrenches are needed to remove a door at the bottom of the faucet in order to access the aerator assembly.
Why Do You Need an Aerator?
Faucet aerators help make the water flow softer to the touch by introducing oxygen bubbles to the water. Faucet aerators also:
- Widen the stream of water
- Limit splashing in the basin
- Save water
- Activate soap faster
- Produce fresher tasting water
- Remove sediment
Signs That You Need a New Aerator
If your water flow is restricted to a trickle, the aerator may be clogged with sediment. It is possible to clean a clogged aerator by soaking it in vinegar for a few hours. But because aerators are so inexpensive, it may be time to install a new one.
An added benefit is that your faucet will receive a new neoprene gasket. Since gaskets can begin to crack and fray over time, a new gasket also will improve the flow of water.
Equipment / Tools
- Faucet aerator
Remove the Old Aerator
Close the stopper on the sink basin. Fold up a hand towel and place this in the sink, as well. The towel will help catch any dropped parts. Turn off the faucet collar containing the aerator. Turn the collar counter-clockwise with your fingers. If you cannot get a good enough grip on the collar, wet a washcloth and hold this over the collar as you turn. The damp washcloth will provide more friction than a dry one will.
Install the Aerator
Knock out the old aerator and discard it. Lay the faucet collar so that its threads are facing upward. Carefully place the new aerator into the collar. Be sure that the mesh end of the aerator is facing downward. Push the aerator tightly into the collar.
Install the Aerator Gasket
Place the aerator gasket on top of the aerator, within the faucet collar.
Complete the Aerator Assembly
A properly assembled faucet collar will have an aerator with its hole side facing upward. The aerator will not work without its gasket.
Screw the Aerator in Place
Use your fingers to tighten the faucet collar and aerator onto the end of the faucet. Do not over-tighten. Turn on the sink faucet to test.
Tips For Installing Faucet Aerators
- Use a towel to help unscrew the faucet collar.
- Always stop the basin to avoid losing parts down the drain.
- Never use a wrench to turn off the faucet collar.
- Never reuse an old gasket for an aerator replacement; always use the new gasket that comes with the aerator.