If you’ve noticed the water running out of your faucet or shower head has slowed to a trickle, a blocked aerator could be to blame. Fortunately, unclogging it is a simple fix.

What is a Faucet Aerator?

A faucet aerator is at the end of your water faucet. It adds air to your water to reduce splash and reduce the amount of water that flows out of the faucet. A properly-working aerator uses less water but keeps the same pressure as a faucet without an aerator.

How Do I Fix a Clogged Aerator?

Aerators have a mesh screen inside them. This screen can get blocked by sediment or debris, which reduces your faucet’s flow and pressure. Over time, calcium deposits can build up inside the aerator, but aerator clogs are also common after your water has been shut off for a plumbing repair.

To clean the aerator, follow these simple steps:

  • Turn off the water supply to the sink. There should be valves under the sink, on both the hot and cold water lines.
  • Plug the drain so you don’t lose any small parts.
  • Take the aerator off the end of the faucet. You should be able to unscrew it with a wrench or pliers. Covering the pliers with electrical tape will keep them from damaging the aerator.
  • Clean the aerator screen and parts. You can use a toothbrush and water to scrub debris off the pieces.
  • Be sure the holes in the screen are clear. Soaking the aerator parts overnight in white vinegar will remove lime scale and calcium build-up from hard water. Take the aerator apart. There are several parts inside the aerator. As you take them out, pay attention to which order and how they fit. That will make it easier to put them back together when you’re done. Note: Damaged parts need to be replaced. If a lot of the parts are broken or cracked, it’s usually best to take the aerator to a hardware or home improvement store to get a replacement.
  • Clean the aerator screen and parts. You can use a toothbrush and water to scrub debris off the pieces. Be sure the holes in the screen are clear. Soaking the aerator parts overnight in white vinegar will remove lime scale and calcium build-up from hard water.
  • Reassemble the aerator and screw it back on the faucet. It doesn’t have to be very tight. If water leaks above the aerator after you’ve hand-tightened it, use the pliers to give it a small turn.

 

You’re done! Unplug the drain, turn the water supply back on, and test your faucet. Your water should be flowing freely now.