How to clear sediment that’s slowing your water flow

Published: August 7, 2019

hand unscrews a tap aerator on kitchen tap Photo by Liam Mogan

Is your tap’s flow beginning to slow? The culprit could be sediment in the spout’s aerator. It’s a common problem in cottage water systems, especially those that lack a sediment filter.

1. Remove the aerator
First, plug the sink so small parts don’t slip down the drain. Twist the aerator off with a clockwise hand turn. If you need pliers (groove-joint ones are best), wrap a cloth around the aerator to prevent scratches.

2. Check the parts
Parts vary by brand, but most aerators have a metal screen, a rubber washer, and a flow restrictor (a plastic disc with a hole). Take a cellphone photo now, so you can put the parts back correctly later. If you find anything’s broken, take the whole lot to the hardware store. Most new aerators run less than $10, and they often include all the internal parts; the challenge is to find one that fits your spout.

3. Dislodge any gunk
A scrub with dish soap and an old toothbrush will clean most screens; a vinegar soak should clear any white, crusty mineral deposits. How often should you check your aerator screens? Make it part of your spring opening-up routine and, while you’re at it, run water through both the hot and cold lines until it’s clear, before replacing the aerators. That helps dislodge any sediment that’s collected throughout the year.

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