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A faucet aerator is a tiny piece of plumbing that makes a big difference. It serves several purposes and is typically found on all types of faucets. Let’s take a closer look at what a faucet aerator is and why you need one.
What Is a Faucet Aerator?
A faucet aerator is a small piece that’s attached to the end of the faucet. It’s a circular piece of metal with a mesh on one end. As the name implies, the purpose of this piece of metal is to ‘aerate’ water, which means to introduce air into the water. It does this by breaking up the water into little streams that falls interspersed with air.
There are many types of faucet aerators on the market with fancy models that act like showerheads. These attach to the end of your faucet and have multiple flow modes. Some are fixed while others can swivel. Most are designed to suit all standard faucets.
Why Use a Faucet Aerator?
A faucet aerator might appear small and insignificant but makes a big difference when you use it. Most people use an aerator for two main reasons:
- Stabilizes Water Flow
If you don’t have an aerator, the water flow from your faucet can be heavy, solid and wasteful. There would be nothing to break up the flow, resulting in water that splashes and pours in unstable streams. The faucet aerator breaks this solid flow into smaller streams with space for each stream to come out of the faucet. This maintains the stability of the water flow.
- Conserves Water
These nifty devices are excellent at saving water, making them among the most environmentally friendly products on the market. When you use a faucet aerator, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of water you consume, because instead of using a solid flow of water, you’ll be using water mixed with air.
Additionally, you can reduce the amount of hot water you use by installing a faucet aerator. If you’re using a storage tank water heater, the less hot water you use, the less new water the tank will heat up.
- Saves Money
Reduced water consumption naturally translates to reduced water bills. If you’re saving on your hot water consumption, that will reduce your electricity or gas bills as well. Overall, a faucet aerator can save you money when used in the long term.
- Catches Debris
Although an aerator’s primary job is to mix up water and air, it also acts as a debris catcher. If there are large contaminants in your water, these can get trapped in your aerator keeping your water clean. This might not be highly relevant to you if you have relatively clean city water.
The Cons of Faucet Aerators
There are a couple of cons associated with faucet aerators, but these are not very serious considerations.
- Water Volume Reduction
As water is mixed up with air, it reduces the overall volume of water (which is the point of the device). This can make it hard to estimate how much water you need when filling up a bath or a bucket. This can also slow down these processes.
Sometimes it might be necessary to replace your aerator periodically, for reasons such as poor water quality.
Styles of Faucet Aerator Flow
There are many types of faucets on the market, and aerators come in a range of sizes and styles to suit them. However, these can be categorized into three main types, depending on their spray style.
- Standard aerated stream: this is the typical aerated water flow which provides a standard mix of water and air. This is the type commonly chosen for homes.
- Spray aerator: this works like a small shower spray, with more pressure and structure. Spray aerators are typically used for low flow water and are perfect for use in kitchens.
- Non-aerated laminar flow: this refers to a solid stream of water that doesn’t have a splashing effect. This type of flow doesn’t mix water and air and is perfect if you need a high-flow stream of water.
When looking to purchase one, check that it’s compatible with your faucet, as well as the flow rate, efficiency and installation. Most faucet aerators, including more complex designs with multiple flow modes, are designed to fit most faucets.
Cleaning Your Faucet Aerator
It’s important to clean your aerator periodically because dirt and debris can get collected in there. This can reduce water pressure and also affect the quality of water.
- To clean the aerator, begin by removing the piece. Typically, you can do this by unscrewing the aerator and then pushing the mesh insert out of the metal cap. However, some aerators may be more complicated, depending on the faucet style. If this is the case, check the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use a clean cloth, sponge or small brush to clean out the aerator. You can use a liquid soap or a DIY cleaning solution by mixing vinegar and water.
- Rinse the aerator thoroughly and check for any contaminants or dirt trapped in the mesh. Remove these by scrubbing the aerator.
- If there’s a lot of scale or hard to remove dirt on the piece, soak the aerator for several hours in the vinegar and water. A good ratio is to use 3 parts of water for 1 part of vinegar.
- Reassemble the parts and screw the aerator back in place tightly. Run the water for a few seconds before using.
Faucet aerators can easily be dismissed for their small size, but don’t let the size of an aerator fool you. These little devices are ideal for conserving water and in the long run, they save you money too.