Almost every single appliance that uses water in your house has a flow restrictor. They can be found on every faucet or shower sold in the last couple of decades, as any manufacturer must include them.
Flow restrictors are, in a nutshell, water savers and reduce a liquid or a gas flow. Apart from houses, they can be found in vehicles such as cars or airplanes and factories, plants, or industrial facilities.
Benefits of a Flow Restrictor
A flow restrictor is mainly used to preserve water by lowering the water flow pressure by at least 30% in your home. This shouldn’t impede anyone from proper cleaning or washing.
The goal of a water saver is well… to save water, but it does so in a way that any user barely even notices it. This brings significant benefits as it saves not only water but also energy. And there is, of course, the added benefit of saving money as well, let’s not forget about that one.
Drawbacks of a Flow Restrictor
On the other hand, any tool can malfunction, and low water pressure means more time with the faucet running, which is counterproductive. Sometimes there is no reason to decrease the water output if we are filling water buckets, for example. At some point, you might hit a point of diminishing returns on the “water savings”.
Causes Behind Low Water Pressure
If your water pressure decreases too much, the flow restrictor might be jammed with mineral build-up, which corrodes the gaps inside and limits your water flow. In this case, your best option is to clean it by removing the mineral build-up.
Another reason is that it might be defective or simply broken. In this case, you need to look for a similar model and replace it. But before you go with either option, you have to remove it first.
This can be done in a couple of simple steps.
You’ll need the following tools:
- Towel (In case anything leaks)
- Flat-head screwdriver (In order to remove the flow restrictor in case it is stuck)
- Adjustable wrench (Preferably a rubber-strap one)
First, remember to shut off the water valve, leading to the faucet not wasting any water. After that, you need to plug your sink. This is very important as it will prevent any small pieces from falling down the drain.
After you have everything set up and your tools gathered, you need to identify what type of restrictor you are fixing. All bathroom faucets come with a flow restrictor. Brands and models differ, but identifying it is easy. In this case, we are only talking about two kinds of flow restrictors: single or aerator.
Single flow restrictors are a widespread design. The flow restrictor is installed at the end of the faucet, where the water comes out, as a single installation device. In this case, the flow restrictor might be inside an aerator, but is still a separate part, as in the first picture below.
An aerator is essentially the end part where the water comes out. In aerator models, the flow restrictor is installed as a small part inside the aerator. Inside an aerator, there are many small parts.
The flow restrictor is a small flat screen that looks like a filter, as in the second picture below. This aerator can be unscrewed easily by hand, but you might need a wrench if there is mineral build-up.
This post will guide you through both scenarios step-by-step.
Single Flow Restrictor:
Single installations are usually the easiest ones to remove:
- Remember to plug your sink to prevent any small parts from falling down the drain.
- Apply pressure to the faucet head using the wrench; you need to keep a tight grip on it.
- Unscrew the flow restrictor from the faucet by twisting the wrench counter-clockwise (lefty loosey).
- After it comes off, you need to inspect it closely.
- If it has mineral build-up, you need to clean it with hot water and a brush. If it looks broken, you need to look for a similar one and replace it.
- Once you are done with either option, put the flow restrictor right back on in the same way, screw it in by using the wrench with the opposite motion (righty tighty), make sure to screw it tight, so it doesn’t leak.
Aerator Flow Restrictors:
This is slightly more challenging than removing a single flow restrictor.
- Again, remember to plug your sink, especially in this case, as the aerator has small pieces that can fall down the drain.
- Unscrew the aerator with your hands if possible. If the aerator is blocked by mineral build-up, you can use the adjustable wrench.
- Secure the rubber band tightly to the flow restrictor. Use an adjustable wrench to gently apply pressure as you twist the faucet head counter-clockwise (lefty loosey).
- After you have removed the aerator, turn it over to locate the flow restrictor (it’s shaped like a flat screen).
- Remove the flow restrictor using either your fingers or the flat-head screwdriver. It’s important to be gentle to ensure that the aerator parts do not get damaged.
- Finally, screw the aerator back inside the faucet (righty tighty) and test the water pressure. If the water pressure is stronger, the job is complete.
A flow restrictor is a convenient tool that can be found in almost anything that runs water. It can save large quantities of water, with users not even realizing that it is there.
Nevertheless, if your water pressure is too low or you don’t need to limit the water output, the flow restrictor can be removed, cleaned, or replaced.
Doing so is relatively easy and requires minimal use of tools. Just follow the simple steps, and you’ll be done in a couple of minutes.