From water savings to kinder flow, faucet aerators are small but necessary parts of any faucet set up. Today's market has a host of different faucet aerators, including low-flow, aerator adaptors for water filtration systems, etc. Ultimately, though, all aerators have the same basic function: mixing air into the water flow.
By definition, an aerator adds air. Put one on the end of your faucet and it will add air to your water flow. If you have ever run a faucet without an aerator, you realized the purpose of an aerator. Without one, water sprays out with unpleasant force and causes splashing. Mixing air into the flow of water produces a steadier, more stable stream. An aerator is usually a simple, mesh screen made of metal or plastic that is attached to the end of a faucet with some sort of housing. As water flows through this screen it is divided into many small streams with air in between. This allows for the feeling of high pressure with less actual water consumption.
Faucet aerators are actually a great way to cut down on water usage, lower utility bills, and preserve the environment with very little investment. Most faucet aerators are marked with the amount of water they allow to pass through. This is measured in gallons per minute. For water conservation, look for aerators marked 2.75 gpm or lower.
Types of Faucet Aerators
Faucet aerators come in two basic models: female or male. This refers to the threading of the adaptor that holds the mesh. If your kitchen faucet has threads on the outside, then you would need a female aerator to go over those threads. Likewise, if your faucet has threads on the inside, you would need a male aerator.
- Stationary vs. Swivel - The basic aerator screws onto the end of a faucet and is not intended to move. However, more elaborate aerators are designed in a swivel style and allow the water to be directed in several directions.
- With Water Filter Adaptors - Special aerators are equipped to have a hose attached to them. This allows you to divert water to a water filter without sacrificing the convenience of an aerator.
If the water pressure has decreased in your faucet, the aerator may be the culprit. The tiny mesh of the aerator can get clogged with silt and debris, or with the buildup of minerals from the water. To clean the aerator, simply unscrew and remove the mesh. It may simply need rinsing and scrubbing off with a small brush, like an old toothbrush. Mineral buildup can be removed by soaking the aerator in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar for several hours, or using a mild descaler, such as Lime-Away. Flush the faucet before replacing the aerator to get rid of any unwanted sediment. If the buildup will not come off, replacing the aerator is an inexpensive and easy solution to getting your water running smoothly again.