Tap Aerators – 3 things – How to use, clean and replace them

Oct 4, 2022 | Taps, Tips and Advice

Tap Aerators and why we use them

Tap Aerators are fitted to all tapware nowadays. They are meant to be water saving devices and provide a better flow and user experience. However are they always needed and are you actually getting the best user experience.

They are used as part of WELS rating for the tapware. The WELS rating is based on the flow per minute and therefore how much water is used. The aerator does limit the taps flow rate.

What Do Tap Aerators Do?

  • Principally they restrict the flow of water to save water consumption and save you money.
  • The restriction is done without effecting water pressure but the jet spray effect, created by the aerator, gives an increased pressure feel
  • The spray is created by the large number of small holes in the aerator sieve filter. It is a uniform spray that acts powerfully to clean and rinse.
  • The spray all so generates more soap foam meaning you can save on the amount of soap too and clean your hands and things quicker.
  • This all affects the time you need to use the tap and this also cuts down the water consumption and potentially lowers your energy bills in instant heating hot water systems.
  • The spray created by tap aerators is more uniform, directional and will not create as much splashing as an un-aerated tap.
Tap Aerators Powerful Spray

Types Of Tap Aerators

There are basically two types of tap aerators – Low Flow and High Flow.

Low Flow restrict the water flow the most and are typically used in sinks and basins. The flow controls are either 2 litres a minute (LPM) or 4 LPM.

The 2LPM aerator is used where maximum savings are required like public places where waste is high.
4LPM aerators are used for most modern bathroom basins tapware and kitchen taps.

High Flow restrict the flow less and are traditionally used in bath tapware but also in Kitchen and Laundry tapware. High Flow aerators allow water flows of 6LPM or 9LPM.

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When to try removing aerators

If you experience a general low pressure water supply you might want to try removing the aerator on certain appliances.

The obvious place to remove the aerator is from your bathroom tap. With low pressure it will undoubtedly take a long time to fill the bath which will also mean you are using more hot water as it will be cooling in the time it takes to fill the bath.

Furthermore because the amount of water used to fill the bath is a fixed volume whether you have a aerator or not there is no real water consumption saving. You will be saving your hot water though.

If you remove the aerator you want to make sure that the water flow doesn’t cause so much splashing mess to be worth it. If it creates havoc try and put the maximum high flow aerator in the tap.

You can try this on other appliances but generally for basins and sinks it will increase waste consumption and create a lot of splashing.

Pina Hand Shower Matt Black

Cleaning Tap Aerators

You should clean an aerator about every 2 months. This should prevent real clogging issues, maintain your water flow and result in rarely having to replace it.

There a variety of assembly types for aerators. If they are in a metal housing then they simple unscrew and then you can simply rinse the aerator or push it out so you can give it a more rigorous wash. Either cover the sink basin trap or extract the aerator on a safe surface so you don’t lose parts.

If you tap came with a aerator key then you will need to use this to extract the proprietary aerator unit. Clean in the same way and screw it back in.

If your aerator is totally clogged you can try using an old toothbrush and a 10 minute soak in vinegar to break up the debris and limescale or you can simply replace it. They are not a costly item.

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Replacing Tap Aerators

Replacing aerators is made just a bit more complicated because they are not universal. Some are in metal housings that can also be replaced. There are two types. The male casing screws into the tap spout and the female housing screws onto the tap spout.  Another way to determine which is which – the male casing has the screw thread on the outside while the female on the inside. These come with the aerator filter included and are ready to screw in/on to the tap

You can also pop the aerator out of your casing and just replace that. Then there are also makes and models that have proprietary units that screw into the spout but have to be supplied by the manufacture.

How to determine the right replacement:

1 If you are also replacing the housing as well because it is damaged or you have lost it, then to match your tapware colour exactly you will probably need to get your replacement from the manufacturer. Chrome maybe ok but you need to check. Otherwise you can get generic parts on the internet but you need to be sure of the size.

Generic Female aerator nozzles ( screws onto the tap ) come in 2 sizes 20mm and 22mm
Generic Male aerator nozzles ( screws into the tap ) come in 4 sizes 20mm 22mm 24mm 28mm

2 If your housing is ok and you are just going to replace the aerator unit then make sure you get the right size of unit to fit your nozzle housing.

3 if you need a manufacturer’s key to extract the aerator and there is no housing then you will probably need to contact the manufacturer for a proprietary part.

Once you know the right size you can order online – get a few they are not expensive.

Vivid Slimline Compact Twin Shower Gun Metal from Phoenix Tapware.

Male Tap Aerator

Vivid Slimline Compact Twin Shower Gun Metal from Phoenix Tapware.

Female Tap Aerator

Flow Rate

Aerators come in with different flow rates. 2 Litres per minute (LPM) 4LPM 6 LPM and 9LPM. The lower the rate the higher the flow restriction. The WELS rating will be a guide to the flow rate of the aerator. The aerator is not the only contributor to the flow rate of a tap – the tap hardware itself may have a low or high flow rate so the WELS rating is only a guide to the aerator that may be fitted

3 Stars = 7.5 l/m to 9 l/m
4 Stars = 6 l/m to 7.5 l/m
5 Stars = 4.5 l/m to 6 l/m
6 Stars = 4.5 l/m or less

In most cases the product you buy will be fitted with the most suitable aerator for performance and savings. You may want to change them for greater saving or more powerful water flow.

tap aerator flow
Tap Aerators

Nick's Tips

Some products like basin and bath mixers are the same apart from the aerator that is installed. Baths are high flow and basins low flow. However not all manufacturers deal with this issue the same way even with their own products. Some may supply both high and low flow aerators in the box others don’t and you have to stipulate when you buy them the use to get the right aerator fitted pre delivery.

For example the Axia Basin/Bath Set from Phoenix comes with a free-flow aerator for bath use
However the Parisi Envy II Basin/Bath Set will have the basin aerator fitted by default unless you stipulate bath use.

When you buy online with MYTAP we give you the unique opportunity (when required) to tell us how you will be using the tapware so you get the right aerator fitted for free. 


If you live in Sydney Metro check out our free and $99 installation products for great savings

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