Have you ever wondered what part of your plumbing forms the tip of the faucet? It’s at the very end of your residential plumbing system where the water comes out and spills into the sink. At your sink, your plumbing suddenly becomes attractive with chrome finish, carved knobs and beautifully curved pathways. At the end is the faucet tip. It’s a small piece of plumbing, but it’s also a fascinating component. Do you want to know what it’s called?
Why Does Your Faucet Need a Tip?
Your water runs through your plumbing pipes because of considerable water pressure. According to Wikipedia, Bernoulli’s Principle applies. Fast moving fluids, in this case water, act with less pressure than slow-moving fluids. If your water came out of your faucet at the fast-moving speed that it runs through your system, it would spray everywhere, depending on where the faucet is pointing. It could cause a real mess.
The tip most commonly installed on the end of the faucet is called an aerator. According to Wikipedia, an aerator slows down the water’s speed, and with slower water, your system enjoys higher water pressure. In other words, your water backs up at the aerator. The aerator is a complex looking filter system, but it’s not designed to remove particles from your water. The aerator adds oxygen through little vent holes on the side.
The screens in the aerator don’t filter anything out; they simply divide the spray of your water into many tiny sprays. These sprays combine with air coming in the side vents, further subduing your water spray. So far, your water has been slowed down, combined with air and divided into multiple, tiny streams that spray into your sink. It’s all done by an aerator.
So, what happens next? The multiple sprays created by the small nickel sized screen in the aerator causes the water to spray in a direction. In the case of your sink faucet, that direction is straight down. Each spray hits the sink bottom and splashes, but because there are so many tiny sprays coming down at once, they each, in turn, nullify the force of the spray of the other, so if you watch the water from your faucet hitting the sink bottom, you would probably be hard pressed to discern a splash. Put your hand in the water. It resists splashing. The aerator is an engineering wonder.
Unfortunately, aerators occasionally get plugged. Though the screen isn’t designed to do so, it catches a lot of minerals and crud in your water supply. A plug could slow your faucet flow to a drip. When this happens, it’s time to unscrew the aerator, clean it out or replace it with a new one. It’s not a difficult task.
Follow these steps from Angie’s List: Wrap a rag around the aerator loosely and gently apply a wrench. The aerator is probably threaded, so turn it until it comes off. Examine it. Does it need cleaning? Is the screen destroyed? Is the rubber gasket ruined or are the deposits so hard and old that the aerator ought to be replaced? If it can be cleaned, just scrape out the material stuck in the aerator and rinse it off.
With the aerator off the tip of your faucet, run water both hot and cold in succession and see if the water pressure is good. If the water pressure is good, return the aerator to the faucet and thread it back onto the tip. Wrap a rag around the aerator and gently apply a wrench to tighten it.
If it needs replacing, take the old aerator to Inland Empire Plumbing and find a good match. Talk to their qualified professionals about your problem. Bring the new aerator home and install it in place of the old one. Test it. If it works, throw the old one away. Regardless of whether you bought a new aerator or cleaned out your old one, run water through it and check if it’s doing the job. If you thought you lost some water pressure, cleaning out the aerator or replacing it should solve the problem. If you still believe you’ve lost significant water pressure, call your plumber for further investigation.
Plumbing is not the simple science it appears to be. Always check with more than one how-to article to make sure the steps are clear before proceeding. With that said, replacing an aerator is easy.