Published on May 6th, 2014 | by Peter Young


Installing a High Efficiency Faucet Aerator

Installing a high efficiency faucet aerator is an easy way to save on both your water and energy bills every month. It’s one of the fastest payback periods available in your home, in fact, and made our list of top ten water conservation tips over on PlanetSave. Most modern faucets come with an aerator rated around 2.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM), and their older counterparts can be as high as 5 GPM, which is basically a fire hose. Installing a more efficient aerator, rated from 0.5 GPM to 1.0 GPM can add up to significant savings. Just follow these easy steps to start saving without changing any of your daily routines.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Channel lock pliers or crescent wrench
  • Some sort of grippy cloth or rubber jar opener sort of material
  • An appropriate sized faucet aerator, (these can be either male, female, or, most commonly, dual-thread)

If your existing faucet has a particular finish, no problem – the innards of the aerators can usually be easily removed from their housings, and swapped out, so you can keep the existing look.

Instructions: how to change the faucet aerator

1. Remove the old aerator from the faucet. This should be possible just using your fingers, but may require the use of pliers to get started. The video below shows the use of a crescent wrench, which works if there are grooves on the old aerator. There often aren’t, so that’s why we recommend channel lock pliers. Use the grippy cloth/jar opener so as not to scratch the finish, just in case the new aerator doesn’t fit, and you want to put the old one back you have an unblemished one. Once the old aerator is loose you should be able to remove it by hand. Simply turn the nozzle lefty-loosey to get it started.

Pro tip: if the old aerator simply won’t budge, do not force it. Instead dampen a cloth or some TP with white vinegar and wrap it around the aerator where it is affixed into the rest of the faucet. Leave it there 5-10 minutes, and try again. usually that does the trick, but if it doesn’t DEFINITELY do not force it. That’s a sign that little bugger is simply locked in place and trying to remove it will break the whole faucet (trust me, I’ve done it). 

2. Be sure the threads and innards of the faucet are clean and free of debris. To do this, with the old aerator removed, just turn on the water slightly and allow it to flush the debris out. This will help ensure that the new aerator will fit properly into the faucet without leaking. There may be a gasket stuck inside from the old aerator–you can use a screwdriver to pry it out, but often it’s easy to just pull out with your finger (just be careful not to cut your hand, because our lawyers said to say so). 

3. Place the new, more efficient aerator into the faucet. Your new aerator usually comes two gaskets (sort of like a rubber o-ring). In some cases, one or even both of the gaskets aren’t even necessary. Sometimes you won’t know until the device is installed and you turn on the faucet. If it’s leaking around the seal of the aerator, odds are, it needs the washer inserted…or removed. All depends on your faucet. 

4. Tighten to finger tight and maybe a hair more. Simply screw the aerator into the faucet by turning counter-clockwise until it’s finger tight. Test it for leaks by turning on the water slightly…if it leaks, it’s possible it’s not tight enough, but start off erring on the side of too loose, rather than too tight.

5. Turn on the faucet to ensure a proper fit. By now your new aerator should be installed and working efficiently. If you notice any leaks coming out of the end of the faucet, wrap it with the rubber grip pad and try giving it a slight turn with the crescent wrench / pliers to snug it up. Using the rubber grip will keep the crescent wrench from scratching the surface of the aerator.

Buy your high efficiency home products, including faucet aerators, here.

Be sure to check out some of our other green home improvement projects. Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Deer Valley Plumbing.

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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