What Is a Faucet Aerator and Should You Install One?

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Do you wonder if there is anything you can do to reduce the cost of your water bill? If you feel like the water coming from your tap splashes around unnecessarily, then your faucet may be missing an aerator. During day-to-day use it may surprise you how much water is being wasted. But by utilizing a faucet aerator, you can decrease the cost of your water bill and keep your cash in your wallet where it should stay. Now, you might wonder, what is a faucet aerator and do I need one?

What Is a Faucet Aerator?

Aerators are essentially small accessories that screw onto the end of your tap’s faucet. Usually they are small wire mesh screens that, as the name suggests, ‘aerate’ the water by taking a single stream of water and separating it into multiple tiny streams.

As a result, air is mixed in with the water flow. By diluting the stream of water with air, faucet aerators greatly reduce the volume of water flowing from your tap, which effectively reduces its gallons per minute (GPM).

Remarkably, faucet aerators manage this while also maintaining a high-pressure flow in addition to reducing the amount of splashing in sinks. Faucet aerators also force the water to flow through a smaller space, which further reduces GPM.

All of this sounds great, but there are more perks to installing a faucet aerator than just higher water pressure and reduced GPM. After identifying what is a faucet aerator, it is now time to explore why you should install one.

Why Should I Use a Faucet Aerator?

There are two primary reasons homeowners use faucet aerators on their taps: to save water and to save money. Unused water flows down the drain every time you turn on the faucets in your home. Everyday activities, such as washing your hands, filling the kettle or cooking pot, washing the dishes, or any use that requires water, can unnecessarily contribute to water wastage.

Use Less Water

Installing a faucet aerator is a great way to lessen the amount of water wasted as well as decrease the cost of your monthly water bill. In addition to being one of the top environmentally friendly plumbing parts on the market, faucet aerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are the most effective water-saving plumbing addition a homeowner can install.

Save Money

Now, saving water and protecting the environment are fantastic benefits, but reducing your monthly water wastage is also easy on your bank account too. Your monthly water and utility bills will be lower as long as you have a faucet aerator working its magic; and you don’t have to lift a finger. Another benefit of installing a faucet aerator is that it can contribute to LEED credits (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which measure the energy efficiency of your home and ultimately can increase its value.

How Do I Choose a Faucet Aerator?

Faucet aerators come in many types, shapes and sizes. They are not all the same, so there are a few key factors to consider before purchasing and installing one.

Male/Female Threads

The first thing you need to identify is whether faucet has a male or female thread. Depending on which one your faucet has, you will need get a particular aerator to fit it. If your faucet has a thread on the outside, then it’s male, and you need to purchase a female aerator. On the other hand, if your faucet has threads on the inside, then its female, and you need to purchase a male aerator.


Usually, aerators come in two sizes: regular and junior. A regular size aerator is 15/16” with a male thread, or 55/64” with a female thread. A junior size aerator is 13/16” with a male thread or 3/4” with a female thread. A hand trick to measure the size of your faucet is to use either a nickel or a dime. If your faucet is roughly the size of a nickel, then it’s a regular size aerator. If it’s roughly the size of a dime, then it’s a junior size aerator.


Every faucet aerator is rated with a GPM (Gallons per Minute) number. This number measures the amount of water that flows through the aerator every minute when in use. Different aerators restrict water flow to differing GPM’s. Usually, a ‘standard’ aerator has a GPM rating of 2.2, and specific faucet aerators will be more or less and may be more appropriate for your, depending on what tasks you’ll be using the faucet for and where it is located in your home.

Choosing GPM

The rule of thumb is the lower the GPM, the longer it will take to fill anything up. So, with that in mind, lower GPM rated aerators (0.5 – 1.0 GPM) are best for bathrooms with uses such as washing hands. High GPM rated aerators (1.5 – 2.5 GPM) are best for kitchens where filling pots or kettles is common. 

Restriction Levers

Certain faucet aerators will include a flow restriction lever on them. This is a beneficial addition to any kitchen as they stifle the flow of water even after you have turned the tap on. What this means is that it allows the water to reach the desired temperature without large volumes being unnecessarily wasted down the drain.

When you need the water to flow, you simply flip the aerators lever off. This will reduce the time spent waiting for water temperature as well as significantly reduce water wastage even more.

It is worth noting that faucet aerators with this lever do not completely cut off the flow of water. This is a safety feature to prevent the build up of hot water that might pose a risk to young children.


Faucet aerators have three main styles. Aerated is the most common and is the standard way to get a flow of air mixed with water. Spray is similar to aerated except it flows like a miniature shower. Laminar is the final style and flows the water into a non-splashing solid stream. The style you choose will depend on the main use of your faucet. 

By now you should have a clear understanding of the question what is a faucet aerator and its purpose. Once you’ve decided on which faucet aerator you want, it’s then time to install it.

How to Install a Faucet Aerator?

Installing faucet aerators on taps throughout your home can cut water wastage by roughly 30% without any reduction in water flow or pressure. By following the below steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving just that.

  1. Turn off the water supply to the faucet.
  2. Unscrew your old faucet or aerator by turning it counter-clockwise. If you are using a wrench, be sure to protect the faucet with either tape or a rag to prevent scratches.
  3. Turn the water on and let it run for at least five seconds. This will flush any residue that may by lingering inside the tap and its threading.
  4. Once complete, turn off the tap and thoroughly dry the faucet.
  5. Place a towel or rag over the drain to prevent any washers or grit from the faucet from falling down the drain.
  6. Remove the new faucet aerator from the package and make sure to always follow the manufacture’s instructions and safety guidelines.
  7. Place the faucet aerator in position and turn clockwise to screw securely in place. As mentioned in step 2, if you are using a wrench, make sure to use tape or a rag over the faucet aerator to prevent any unwanted scratches or damage.
  8. We would recommend hand tightening the faucet until it’s snug before using a wrench. Be careful not to over-tighten, which can potentially damage the threading on both the taps faucet and the aerator.
  9. Turn on the water and check for leaks. If you have any leaks, try adding Teflon tape to the thread of the aerator before screwing it in position.


Regular maintenance of your faucet aerator is paramount to its longevity. Faucet aerators need to be regularly cleaned and replaced as they can become clogged with silt and other debris over time and use. You can use an old toothbrush to scrub the faucet gently, and the rinse it under running water. We recommend an occasional long soak in vinegar, detergent and warm water to ensure cleanliness.

The Verdict

A faucet aerator is a recommended addition to any household. Whether you decide to replace a single faucet or add one to every faucet throughout your home, doing so will have tremendous benefits to not only your water usage and efficiency but also to your utility bill.

These small changes can produce big results over time, and we hope this article and step-by-step instructions has helped you to answer the question: what is a faucet aerator?

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