A faucet aerator is a little device at the end of a faucet that adds air, and thereby provides a uniform flow while also restricting flow.  Aerators will come with different gallons per minute (GPM) flow rates that are usually stamped on the side of the aerator.  Over the years, the maximum flow rates have been reduced in an effort to conserve water, so many fixtures could be upgraded with newer aerators to conserve water.

Flow Rates

The current California Plumbing Code requires kitchen faucets to have a maximum flow rate of 1.8 GPM.  Bathroom faucets (known as “lavatory” faucets in code language) are required to be a maximum of 1.5 GPM.   The California Green Building Code has set a voluntary standard of 1.5 GPM for kitchen faucets, and while this is currently voluntary, look for this to be the new standard in the coming years.

Generally speaking, the lower the flow rate, the more water will be saved.  So take a look at your faucet aerators and determine their flow rate, and see if this could be an opportunity to save water.  Just unscrew the aerator, bring it to your local plumbing store to find a lower flow aerator, and screw the new aerator in.

2.2 GPM faucet aerator

2.2 GPM faucet aerator, as determined by the stamp on the side of the aerator

Clogged Aerators

In older homes with galvanized water piping, aerators can become clogged with rust and debris.  If you suspect that an aerator is clogged, unscrew it to check for debris.  Wash out the debris, and the flow should be greatly improved, but expect that the debris will slowly accumulate again.  The long term solution is to replace the older galvanized piping, as the rusting that leads to clogged aerators, will also lead to leaking pipes eventually.  In the mean time, keep an eye on those aerators.








Clogged Aerators

Missing Aerators

Sometimes aerators will be complete missing, perhaps because someone got frustrated by a clogged or poorly performing aerator.  Of course, this can waste a significant amount of water and an aerator should be installed not only to save water, but to regulate the flow of water and prevent splashing.

JMC Inspections: Service, Experience, Professionalism since 1982