The aerator in a kitchen faucet plays an essential role in the faucet’s water-saving abilities. However, if the aerator becomes clogged or damaged, it can restrict the water too much, leading you to remove it.
If you decide to replace it, you’ll need to know what type to buy. So, are kitchen faucet aerators universal? Unfortunately, no, they’re not. But we’re here to help, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is A Faucet Aerator?
Inside many faucets, there’s a small screen called an aerator. The aerator usually sits at the end of the spout, either recessed inside the spout or screwed onto the end. This screen is generally made of plastic and adds air to the water as it passes through the spout. It can also serve as a water filter for debris, so they’re prone to clogging with dirt, mineral deposits, and grime.
By adding air to the water stream, the aerator significantly lessens the amount of water from your faucet. While the flow rate isn’t as high as it could be without an aerator, a properly functioning aerator shouldn’t affect the water pressure from the faucet.
Does An Aerator Save Water?
Although aerators can be separate from the water restrictor in a faucet, it still helps save water. By adding air into the water, the aerator helps cut back on water consumption. There are certain water-saving aerators that serve both functions in one piece, but this isn’t true of every faucet, as some have the two pieces separate.
A regular aerator allows up to 2.2 gallons per minute (GPM) through the faucet, while water-saving aerators or restrictors drop the flow of water to 0.5 GPM. The switch can save up to 75% more water, so yes, an aerator can save water.
Do Aerators Fit All Faucets?
Like faucets, aerators vary from one manufacturer to the next. While they might look strikingly similar, the components are rarely compatible. So, in general, faucet aerators aren’t universal.
Faucet aerators come in two varieties with different connection types: male and female. Faucets with threads on the outside of the spout are considered male faucets, so you’ll need a female aerator for it. On the flip side, faucets with threads on the inside of the spout are considered female faucets, so you’ll need a male faucet aerator for it.
Generally, the “male” aerators are recessed within the faucet and may be called cache aerators. They usually require an aerator key (also called a cache key) for removal since they’re not easily accessible. The “female” aerators screw onto the end of the spout, so they’re easy to remove and replace.
So, if you’re replacing the aerator in your faucet, you can’t buy any random aerator as a replacement. If you need to replace a broken aerator, you’ll need to buy a compatible model. You’ll most likely need to buy a replacement aerator from the manufacturer for your particular faucet model. However, in some cases, you might be able to find a generic faucet aerator that fits.
Is There Such A Thing As Universal Faucet Aerators?
Although there technically isn’t a one-size-fits-all aerator, there are dual-faucet aerators. These aerators feature both male and female threads, with threads on the inside and outside of the piece, so they’re compatible with a wider range of faucets.
In addition, some brands use universal aerators for all of their products. So, you might not need to know the specifics about your faucet to purchase a replacement aerator. Sometimes, the brand might be the only piece of information you need to buy a replacement.
How Do You Remove A Faucet Aerator?
The process of removing a faucet aerator varies based on the type of aerator you’re working with. Recessed aerators usually require an aerator key for removal, whereas screw-on aerators can be unthreaded by hand. Some faucets feature aerators with a slot on the face, so you can easily remove it using a coin.
How Do I Know What Size My Faucet Aerator Is?
If you’re unsure what size your faucet’s aerator is, you can quickly determine its size using a dime or a nickel. Remove the aerator from the faucet, then place a nickel on top of it. If the nickel is approximately the same circumference as the aerator, you have a regular-sized aerator.
If the nickel is bigger than the aerator, use a dime. The aerator is junior-sized if the dime falls into the aerator, but if it has the same circumference as the aerator and sits on top of it, you have a Tom Thumb-sized aerator.
What Flow Rate Do Aerators Support?
As mentioned, standard aerators support flow rates of up to 2.2 GPM, and water-saving models feature flow rates of 0.5 GPM. However, although these two levels express a few options, other flow rates are available.
Aerators can support a range of flow rates, from 0.3 GPM to 2.2 GPM. As of January 1, 1994, the United States Department of Energy requires all faucets manufactured and sold in the United States to have aerators restricting the flow to 2.2 GPM, so you won’t find a tap with a higher flow rate. This is a federally-mandated standard, so all brands and manufacturers creating and selling faucets within the United States must abide by this standard.
Will The Flow Rate Rise If I Remove The Faucet Aerator?
In some cases, removing the aerator from your faucet will improve the flow rate. While this is true of faucets with flow-restricting aerators, it isn’t always the case, especially if your faucet aerator supports the maximum flow rate.
However, if you have a faucet with a water-saving aerator or one that supports lower flow rates, removing the aerator will likely improve the flow rate through your tap.
It’s important to note that removing the aerator won’t correct low-flow issues in all cases. In many scenarios, low flow rates stem from other issues, like mineral deposits. If you have hard water in your home, mineral deposits can build up inside the faucet’s aerator, clogging the tiny holes and leading to reduced flow.
Or, it could stem from something else, like a clogged cartridge, broken water lines, leaks, partially closed shut-off valves, and more. So, if you try removing the aerator and it doesn’t remedy the problem, look beyond the aerator for the culprit.