Straight from the Tap

Change your Clock, Check your Batteries… and Clean your Aerators


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

An aerator is a fine mesh screen that is screwed onto the bottom of most indoor faucets. It separates the single stream of water flowing through your faucet into dozens of tiny streams. This reduces the volume of water while enhancing the pressure, conserving water and saving you money.

It also collects tiny mineral and plastic deposits from inside your plumbing and water heater that can flake off over time. How much and what type of material the aerator collects, depends on the type and age of your plumbing as well as when the aerator was last cleaned.

To clean an aerator, unscrew it from the end of the faucet, separate the components, then rinse each piece in water. For any deposits that are difficult to remove, soak the parts in a mixture of water and vinegar for a few minutes then scrub with a toothbrush. Reassemble the aerator and reattach it onto the faucet. If the aerator is cracked or broken, it should be replaced.

Cleaning your aerator only takes a few minutes and should be done at least twice a year. You should also clean your faucet aerators after any plumbing work or disruptions in water service. Work on plumbing or water mains can dislodge small particles of solder or other materials from pipes. If a home has a lead service line or plumbing, these particles can contain lead.

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