Faucet aerators are little discs that fit onto the ends of practically all faucets on the market today. They are designed to mix air into the water, increasing the pressure while at the same time reducing the flow. This makes it seem like plenty of water is coming out of the faucet when in reality the flow rate is lowered. If the aerator was not there, the reduced water flow would turn the water stream into an off-center trickle that splashes all over your sink. A flow reducer, on the other hand, reduces the amount of water you use but doesn’t aerate it in the process. It just steadies the stream of the reduced water flow without affecting the pressure.
Because the flow reducer or aerator is the exit point for the faucet’s water, it is by far the most important factor determining a faucet’s flow rate. With a kitchen faucet, a higher rate of flow is useful because you need to be able to fill pots or your sink quickly. In a bathroom faucet however, it is just wasteful to have a higher flow rate and that water could be used better in other places. Even a kitchen sink doesn’t usually need the flow rate to be that high if you do a bit of planning. You don’t need to clean pots and pans by soaking them in your sink; you can get them clean just through scrubbing and rinsing away the detergent. It’s an unfortunate fact that not everybody has the patience and self-discipline to save water and use it efficiently. That’s why a flow reducer or aerator is a good idea, as it will force you to conserve water. You may be surprised just how much you can reduce your water consumption in a year just by installing an aerator or flow reducer.
Experts tell us that the highest recommended flow rate is about 1.5 gallons per minute. A decent aerator or flow reducer will bring your flow rate down below this level, and you will be able to do all your daily tasks without noticing much of a difference. Some aerators and reducers will even bring the flow all the way down to 1 gallon per minute. You just need to be aware that aerators wear out in a fairly short time and regularly need replacing.
You can replace your old aerator by simply unscrewing it either with your hand or tongue-and-groove pliers. Normally you remove them by turning them counter clockwise. Check that the threads on the faucet are clean before you install the new aerator. Tighten it by hand and run the faucet for a couple of minutes to make sure it’s not leaking. If there are small leaks around the aerator, try using the pliers to gently tighten it.