How To Remove Recessed Faucet Aerator

Last Updated On July 14, 2024

Updated on April 14, 2023



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How To Remove Recessed Faucet Aerator (1)

Do you have a stubborn recessed faucet aerator that you need to remove? Faucet aerators come in all faucets, but there are different types. 

It’s not always obvious how to remove a recessed faucet aerator (or a stripped faucet aerator) when you want to upgrade. But we’ll explain how.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • How to remove a recessed faucet aerator
  • How to remove a stuck or stripped faucet aerator
  • Supplies you’ll need to remove a recessed faucet aerator

What's In This Guide?

      What You Need to Know About How to Remove a Recessed Faucet Aerator

      Your faucet aerator determines the water flow production of your faucet. Aerator parts include the insert, aerator screen, washer, and aerator screw. Water from your faucet’s water supply flows through the faucet and the small holes of the aerator, which controls the water stream. 

      The aerator may add air into the water to give the same water pressure while using less water. Low flow faucets use aerators to help them produce their eco-friendly ratings. 

      You will likely find an aerator in both your kitchen faucet and bathroom sink faucet. Bath faucets don’t typically contain aerators as most homeowners want the tub faucet to produce water quickly.

      Without the aerator, the water will splash much more powerfully, using more water and increasing your water bill. The spray also won’t provide the same level of control. 

      did you know How To Remove Recessed Faucet Aerator

      There are generally 4 cache aerator, or hidden aerator, sizes:

      • Thumb size aerator – the size of a dime
      • Tiny junior aerator – the size of a penny
      • Junior aerator – the size of nickel
      • Standard size aerator – the size of a quarter

      Some aerators have housing around them. A housed aerator screws into place with the spout. You won’t remove them with an aerator key but with an adjustable wrench. Some housed aerators have tightening grooves while others do not. 

      If you have a Delta faucet or a Moen faucet, they usually use aerator housing. 

      Reasons For Aerator Removal

      Faucet aerators may become clogged with sediment buildup over time, especially if your home receives hard water. A clogged aerator may lead to low water pressure. While not necessarily hazardous to your health, you don’t want the sediment buildup in your faucets or calcium debris in your drinking water.

      If you do have hard water, you will need to remove a faucet aerator to clean it or replace it periodically.

      How To Remove a Recessed Faucet Aerator

      When you go to remove your recessed aerator, you’ll want to use an aerator key as plan a. 

      You can also use the video below for a visual aid:

      Here is a link to a recessed aerator key if you don’t have one.

      Use these steps to learn how to remove a “hidden” recessed faucet aerator.

      Step One: Soak in White Vinegar

      Before you get started, here is a pre-step if you have extra hard water and see calcium buildup on your faucet. If you don’t, feel free to skip this step.

      Remove some of the gunk on the aerator by soaking the spout of the faucet in white vinegar. While vinegar works well as a safe cleaner, it doesn’t work right away. You will need to let it soak for at least 4 hours, or even better overnight.

      You can accomplish this by pouring white vinegar into a baggie and tying it onto the faucet spout. Do your best to ensure the vinegar reaches the aerator. 

      If you still have a stuck faucet aerator, you may want to use WD40 to loosen it up, but it may also make it difficult to establish a tight grip, so only use lubricant as a last resort. 

      Here is a helpful video for soaking a standard stuck aerator in CLR using a balloon. While this is not a recessed aerator, the same tactic can be applied to loosen it. 

      Step Two: Cover the Sink Drain

      Start by covering the sink drain. When you remove the aerator, you don’t want the old aerator or an aerator gasket to fall down your drain. Not only can they contribute to a drain clog, but you may need the parts! Close the stopper or place a towel flush over the drain.

      Step Three: Loosen Aerator WIth Key

      Use a special aerator key to loosen the aerator by fitting the key into the aerator threads and turning it to the left once you establish a good grip. Again, you can use one like this.

      Step Four: Unscrew By Hand and Pull Off

      After you sufficiently loosen the aerator, you will use your hands to unscrew the rest of the aerator and pull it off once it becomes loose. 

      Caution: Old or corroded aerators can have sharp edges. We suggest you wear gloves or use a cloth to protect your fingers.

      How To Remove A Recessed Faucet Aerator Without A Key

      If you don’t have a key handy you will need to find another solution but it won’t be easy. Try using a small screwdriver to initiate a turn, or try gripping it with a pair of needle-nose pliers. 

      This is difficult to do without causing damage to the plastic aerator, or the faucet itself. It’s a better option to invest in a key.

      Here is a video addressing and removing stuck aerators:

      As you can see, using a key is your best option. Here is a link to the 4-in-1 aerator removal tool seen in the video.

      Is your Recessed Faucet Aerator Stripped?

      It’s no fun dealing with a stripped aerator. You’ll know this is the case because it will spin, but never actually loosen up. The first thing you can do is apply pressure while turning. You might be able to catch a thread and get it to begin backing off. Didn’t work?

      Your aerator will need to be replaced, so there is no use trying to salvage it during the removal process. Use needle-nose pliers to get a strong grip, and pinch it the best you can to force removal. Since many are plastic, you may need to break the plastic in order to get it to fall out of place. 

      Supplies You’ll Need to Remove a Recessed Faucet Aerator

      Here are some of the supplies you may need to remove a recessed faucet aerator.

      Faucet Aerator Key/ Aerator Wrench

      You will need an aerator key designed to fit your aerator. Since aerators may come in different sizes, it’s best to use a multi-function aerator key or buy a set of aerator keys in different sizes

      Plumbers Wrench

      A plumbers wrench is an adjustable wrench primarily used in plumbing tasks. The adjustable features allow the wrench to grip onto pipes and fixtures of different sizes, making it a versatile tool you will use throughout your plumbing DIY adventures.

      Important: do not use metal on metal or you will scratch your faucet. Use a cloth or another protective layer in between the tool and the plumbing fixtures.

      Caution: Do not use a lot of force when trying to loosen the aerator. You can easily damage the fine thread and small components.

      New Aerator

      You may choose to address the issue by installing a brand new aerator, in which case you’ll need an aerator that fits your faucet. 

      Consider getting a universal splash filter that allows you to turn the spout in any direction you want, making it easy for you to wash your eyes and face while also saving water

      These are pretty cool and are an inexpensive way to upgrade your water flow without buying a new faucet.

      FAQs For How to Remove a Recessed Faucet Aerator

      How do I remove a stuck aerator from a recessed faucet?

      If you encounter a stuck aerator in a recessed faucet you can try to loosen it up with vinegar. Pour white vinegar into a bag or balloon and place it around the faucet in question, making a point to soak the aerator overnight.

      How do you remove a recessed aerator without a key?

      If you don’t have a key, you will need to use the tools at your disposal to remove your aerator. This is difficult to do without causing damage. Try using a small screwdriver. 

      How do you remove the aerator from a Kohler recessed faucet?

      Kohler strives to make plumbing DIY as possible by making most aerators unscrewable with just your hands. They also provide keys and replacement parts

      How do you clean a recessed aerator?

      To clean a recessed aerator, soak the aerator in white vinegar or CLR.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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