The faucet aerator is a small device with a big impact. Here are descriptions of 8 benefits to having one in your kitchen or bathroom, and also when you wouldn’t want to have one.
An aerator is a small plastic or metal screen that fits at the end of the faucet in your kitchen or bathroom sink. There is a size and style for every type of faucet. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and have several benefits. They’ve been in use since at least the 1950s.
In 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the WaterSense program. It’s meant to improve water conservation in American homes and uses independent agencies to certify a variety of products, including aerators, if they reduce consumption by at least 30%.
1. Conserves water
Without an aerator, the average bathroom sink uses 2.2 GPM (gallons per minute). With a modern aerator, it can be reduced to 1.5 or even 1.0 GPM. Faucet aerators limit the flow of water and mix in air with the water stream at the same time. Even though the GPM is reduced, it still feels like a forceful stream of water.
2. Enhances pressure
A faucet aerator breaks up a single stream of water and introduces air into it. This greatly increases the surface area of the water which improves pressure for washing and rinsing.
3. Shapes stream
When the tap water flows through the aerator, it’s broken up into many smaller streams. This widens the total stream, while the constant pressure behind the aerator keeps the stream straight and even.
4. Improves taste
Aerating water improves taste for many reasons, including
- the dissolved oxygen improves the flavor and texture
- allows chlorine to evaporate
- reduces sulfur odor
5. Reduces splashing
An aerator takes one heavy, unsteady stream and converts it into many small, aerated streams. The reduced volume, added air, and steady stream greatly reduces splashback when the tap water hits the basin.
6. Reduces noise
A steady, controlled stream is a quieter stream when compared to the gurgling and gushing of a heavy, uncontrolled stream.
7. Reduces energy use
If an aerator lets you have good water pressure while using less water, then you use less energy to heat it when you use hot water.
8. Catches debris
Though filtering is not the primary purpose of the aerator, it does act like a sieve and will catch silt, and debris that may be in your water supply. It can also catch particles of lead that can dislodge from your plumbing if you are in one of many US homes that has lead pipes or a lead service line. This makes regularly cleaning your aerators even more important. Home maintenance experts recommend that you clean your aerators at least every 6 months.
When faucet aerators aren’t appropriate
Many of the benefits of an aerator are to do with the quality of the stream and the reduced volume of water. It would not be beneficial to have an aerator on faucets where you want a volume of water but not a special stream quality. For example, if you have a pot-filling faucet, like this one by Delta, at your stove, you want to be able to fill the pot quickly with a certain amount of water. Also, for outside taps where you may want to water your lawn or vegetable garden, you are looking for a certain amount of water and not necessarily an aerated stream.
Faucet aerators are humble accessories but powerful with benefits. Primarily, they reduce water and energy use, which ultimately saves you money. Place them on your kitchen or bathroom faucets if you don’t have them already. If your aerators are especially old or broken, replace them with aerators that have the WaterSense logo for the best benefit. With minimal maintenance, they will serve you well for years.