When we spring forward into daylight savings time this weekend, after you change your clocks and check your smoke detectors, 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 indoor 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 flake off 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.
To clean your aerator, unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet, separate the components, and then rinse each piece under flowing water. For deposits that are difficult to remove, you can soak the parts in a mixture of water and vinegar for a few minutes then scrub with a toothbrush. Reassemble the aerator and attach it back onto the faucet. If any parts are cracked or broken, replace them.
Cleaning your aerator should take less than five minutes for most faucets and 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.
This simple action will help maintain the high quality of your drinking water all the way to your tap.