Removing A Faucet Aerator

Faucet Aerator
HomeSpotHQ/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

When the water pressure at a single faucet is very low, the solution is often remarkable simple. At the end of the faucet spout there is usually a screw-on screen fitting, known as the aerator. Remarkably, many people do not even know this fitting is there and often call a plumber to make a repair that's as easy as anything a homeowner will ever face.

The purpose of the aerator is to break up the solid stream of water and add air to the water flow. These faucet aerators often get clogged with build-up and need to be cleaned to allow proper water flow. This is a frequent problem in areas where there is a heavy mineral content to the water supply, such as is often the case in rural areas served by groundwater wells.

In most cases, a simple cleaning of this aerator will do the trick, though sometimes you may need to replace it. In either case, you will need to remove the aerator. Usually, the aerator is screwed on hand-tight and can be unscrewed and removed quite easily. In other cases, though, the buildup of mineral deposits may freeze up the aerator and make it hard to remove.

What You Need

  • A pair of pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Penetrating oil
  • Rag or masking tape

How to Remove the Aerator 

  1. Start by trying to unscrew it with your hand. Most faucet aerators are hand tight and many times you can unscrew it by just using your hand. Make sure to dry off both the faucet and your hands first. 
  2. If that does not work you are going to have to use a pair of pliers. If the aerator is in good condition and will not be replaced then you can use a rag between the aerator and the pliers to prevent scratching. Or, you can put masking tape on the jaws of your pliers to protect the chrome finish of the faucet aerator. A small pair of channel-type pliers works best for this. 
  3. With the pliers, carefully try and turn the counterclockwise as viewed from the bottom looking up. (If you are looking down at the faucet, you will be turning it clockwise.)
  4. If does not move, try moving the pliers a quarter turn and carefully try turning the aerator from that angle. Keep doing this back and forth from both positions. Don't grip the aerator too tightly, because the metal is soft and will bend easily, making your job even harder.
  1. If you are having trouble, you can try spraying penetrating oil (such as WD-40) on the threads and let it sit for a while before trying again. 
  2. When installing or reinstalling the aerator, screw it on just hand tight at first. Test the faucet, and if it leaks around the aerator, then tighten it just a bit further with channel-type pliers, making sure to use a rag or masking tape to protect the chrome of the aerator.