How to Remove a Stuck Aerator: Step-by-Step Guide

How to Remove a Stuck Aerator: Step-by-Step Guide

Dec 3, 2023
Stuck Areator

Have you ever struggled with a stubborn faucet aerator that simply refuses to budge? If you’re nodding in agreement, you’re not alone. Removing a stuck aerator might seem like a Herculean task, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Let’s embark on a brief journey to understand the aerator before diving into the step-by-step removal guide.

Understanding the Faucet Aerator

A faucet aerator is a compact device that screws onto the end of a faucet spout. Its primary function is to regulate water flow by infusing air into the water stream. By doing so, aerators can significantly reduce water consumption, sometimes by up to 30% or more, when operating efficiently.

Why Remove the Aerator?

Cleaning and replacing the aerator is generally straightforward unless it’s jammed. Stuck aerators might break if you exert too much force. Clogging, often caused by mineral deposits in tap water, is a common reason for aerator removal. Contrary to some beliefs, you don’t always have to replace the entire faucet when the aerator gets clogged. A simple cleaning or, in severe cases, an aerator replacement will suffice.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing a Stuck Aerator

Preparation: Gather Your Materials and Tools


  • Penetrating oil
  • Calcium or mineral-dissolving solution


  • Pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Hair dryer (optional for applying heat)
  • Stiff brush

Step 1: Unscrewing the Aerator; Manual Attempt

Begin with the most straightforward method: hand unscrewing. Ensure the faucet is dry for a firm grip; a less slippery surface will make it easier to apply pressure. However, exert caution to avoid exerting excessive force, which could result in the aerator breaking within the faucet spout. If you encounter resistance or believe it’s challenging to proceed manually, it’s time to consider tools.

Utilizing Pliers

In cases where manual attempts are futile, pliers become your best friend. Here’s a pro-tip: if you’re keen on reusing the aerator and it’s still in a pristine condition, always wrap it with a rag or masking tape. This precautionary measure protects the aerator’s metal surface from potential scratches when gripped with pliers. For this task, a small pair of channel-type pliers is recommended.

To proceed:

  • Safeguard the aerator’s metal surface with either a rag or masking tape.
  • Position the pliers’ teeth solely on the aerator.
  • Turn the aerator counter-clockwise to initiate the unscrewing process.

If the pliers prove ineffective or if you notice obstructions within the aerator preventing its cleaning, adjust your approach. Reposition the aerator or the tool and try again. Avoid using excessive force to mitigate the risk of damage.

Step 2: Applying Heat to the Aerator

Heat the faucet by air dryer

Using a Hair Dryer

A hair dryer can be used to warm up the aerator, helping to expand the metal and break down mineral deposits for easier removal.

Safety with Matches

Before using a lit match to test the metal’s responsiveness to heat, ensure the aerator is detached. If the metal starts to loosen, reposition the aerator and try unscrewing again.

Proceed with Caution

Heat the aerator moderately to avoid damaging or melting any plastic or rubber components.

Note on Plastic Aerators

Budget faucets may have screw-on plastic aerators, which are more sensitive to heat. Handle with extra care.

Step 3: Applying Penetrating Oil for Stubborn Aerators

Penetrating oil

When to Use Oil:

Using penetrating oil is crucial if the aerator remains stuck even after previous attempts. If it’s not tightly jammed, you can opt to use the oil or skip this step.


Drip penetrating oil around the joint where the aerator meets the faucet. Let the oil seep in for several minutes to break down any mineral deposits or rust.

Working with Oil:

After allowing the oil to sit, try using pliers again to twist off the aerator. If you find the aerator too slippery due to the oil, clean off the excess before attempting removal.

Step 4. Aerator Cleaning and Maintenance


After successfully removing the aerator, carefully separate its components. Remembering their order is crucial, as they need to be reassembled correctly for optimal performance.

Component Overview:

Aerators consist of several tiny pieces that all play a role in regulating water flow. Ensuring each component fits back in its proper place is essential.

Brush Cleaning:

Use a stiff brush to scrub away any mineral deposits or debris accumulated within the aerator parts.

Deep Cleaning:

For more stubborn mineral build-up, immerse the aerator components in a lime-dissolving solution, like Lime-Away, to effectively break down and remove the deposits.

Visit: How to Remove Calcium Deposits from Faucet?

Step 5: Evaluate and Replace

replace Stuck Areator

Assessing the Aerator:

After removal, carefully inspect the aerator for signs of wear, damage, or blockages. Prolonged use and the stress from removal might have damaged it.

Repair or Replace?

While it’s possible to replace just the screen or fix minor issues, if you notice rust or significant wear on the metal components, it’s often more efficient to replace the entire aerator.

Choosing the Right Aerator:

The market offers a plethora of aerator designs, including swivel-head models that can enhance faucet usability. Make sure to select one that suits your faucet design and needs.

Step 6: Reassemble and Secure

Reattaching the Aerator:

With the cleaning or replacement process complete, it’s time to put the aerator back in its place. Remember the arrangement from when you took it apart and follow the same sequence.


Begin by hand-tightening the aerator onto the faucet to ensure proper alignment and avoid cross-threading.

Securing with Pliers:

For a snug fit, gently use pliers to give the aerator a final tighten. Remember to wrap the aerator with a rag or use masking tape to avoid scratching its surface.


Maintaining a faucet’s aerator is essential for optimal water flow and efficiency. By following the steps outlined above, you can effortlessly remove, clean, and secure the aerator, ensuring your faucet operates smoothly and efficiently. Whether you’re cleaning or replacing the aerator, these guidelines ensure a hassle-free process, prolonging the life of your faucet and conserving water.

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