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Close up of a person removing an aerator from the end of a faucet

With daylight savings time starting this weekend, after you change your clocks and check your smoke detector batteries, don’t forget to clean your faucet aerators, too!

An aerator is a fine mesh screen housed in a metal or plastic insert that is screwed into the bottom of most faucets. The screen separates the single stream of water flowing through your pipes into dozens of tiny streams. This regulates the flow of water from the faucet and mixes air into the water to reduce the volume while enhancing pressure - conserving water use and saving you money.

It also collects tiny mineral and plastic deposits from inside your plumbing and water heater that can wear away over time. How much stuff the aerator collects, and what that stuff is made of, depends on how long it has been since the aerator was cleaned and the type and age of plumbing in your house.

Cleaning your aerator only takes a few minutes for most faucets and should be done at least twice a year and after any work on your plumbing system or disruptions in water service. Work on plumbing or water mains can dislodge small particles of solder or other materials from pipes. In cases where homes have lead service lines or plumbing, these particles may contain lead.

To clean your aerator, remove it from the faucet, separate the components, and rinse or soak the parts in cold water. For deposits that are difficult to remove, soak the parts in diluted vinegar for a few minutes, scrub with a toothbrush, and rinse thoroughly with cold water. If there are parts that are broken or missing, replace them before reassembling and attaching the aerator securely back onto the faucet.

This simple action will help maintain the high quality of your drinking water all the way to your tap.

Home Plumbing