Save Water and Money – change your Aerator

Are you pouring money down the drain? Unless you get your household water from a hand pump in the dooryard or by dropping a bucket down the well you probably pay for your water.

By changing the aerator on your shower(s), kitchen and bathroom(s) faucet you can save 1/2 to 1 gallon of water a minute. One gallon a minute! If you take a 10 minute shower that is 10 gallons of water not used. Multiply that if you shower twice a day. Multiply again for the number of people in your household. Multiply once more by 365. Subtract the number of days you are away from home or are on vacation. Now add the minutes that you run water from the sink faucets. This is not total water consumption but an estimate on how much water could be saved, or is wasted depending on your point of view. A dollar amount can be figured for the sum total. If we consider hot water which must be run through a heater the dollars spent (or saved) will be higher.

An aerator is a cylindrical attachment screwed on to the tip of a faucet. Inside the aerator is a fine mesh screen which traps small particles of sand and solids. At the end of the aerator is a lattice grid or disc of small holes. The purpose of an aerator is to divert the outpouring stream of water into a spray of droplets and reduce splashing. An outdoor garden hose does not have an aerator and a solid stream of water pours from it. A shower head with multiple jets and holes is a type of aerator.

Most new homes or conventional shower heads sold at a hardware store deliver 2 1/2 gallons or more per minute. Sink aerators are in the 2 gpm range. Low flow aerators can reduce water volume to 1 gpm. A low flow shower head will reduce water volume to 1 1/2 or 2 gpm.

It’s important to understand the difference between water pressure and water volume, the force and the quantity. I often hear the complaint that low flow devices do not have enough pressure. That is incorrect. Volume is measured in gallons per minute (gpm) pushed through the pipe by the pressure (psi). A low flow shower head reduces the amount of water, the pressure pushing that water remains the same.

Changing an aerator or shower head can be done by just about anyone and does not require advanced skill or the service of a plumber. A pair of pliers is the only tool necessary. The aerator can be identified as a small cylinder at the tip of a faucet. Grip the aerator firmly with the pliers and turn to loosen. Once loosened the aerator can usually be unscrewed by hand. To prevent scarring by the jaws of the pliers, you can wrap that area with a couple layers of masking tape or a strip of duct tape. After removal examine the filter screen inside. Is there a lot of trapped sediment? This may indicate that periodic cleaning of the screen should be done. To install the new aerator first tightly wrap the threads with several winds of teflon tape. A small spool of this stretchy plastic tape is usually included in the package. The teflon tape insures a tight seal and prevents leaks. Thread the aerator on to the faucet by hand and finally use the pliers to tighten for a snug fit. (Tip: there are two standard diameter sizes. Before purchase determine the size you need).

To replace a shower head use the same procedure. Grip the base of the shower head where it meets the angled pipe protruding from the wall. Loosen and unscrew. Wrap the pipe thread with teflon tape, screw on the new shower head and tighten to a snug fit. Do not use excessive force on that last twist as some fixtures are made of plastic and can crack. Turn on the water and check for leaks. If there is a small drip then enough teflon tape on the threads was not used or another slight twist is needed to tighten.

The cost of a low flow aerator is about $2.00. A new low flow shower head can be had for about $10.00 for an inexpensive plastic model and one that has multiple spray patterns like mist, spray or jet can cost around $35.00.

The benefits are : you will save (not waste) water, no behavior modification is needed (step into the shower and start saving money), you will be doing your part as a responsible global citizen. Chances are you can save 7,000 to 10,000 gallons of water each year.

A growing population is straining the worlds fresh water resources. With more demand water restrictions may be applied. Increased use will ultimately result in an increase in the cost. Take a look at last months water bill. Figure it out.

A Hui Hou (till we meet again) Dohn.

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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4 Responses to Save Water and Money – change your Aerator

  1. pendantry says:

    While this is great advice, it highlights a problem (one that we in the UK have, don’t know about you). Obviously it helps if individuals take your advice, but clearly the best way to implement this is by the people who deliver the water rolling it (or at least the option for it) out to all users. And there’s the rub: our water services are in private hands: since they make money from delivering more water, they have little incentive to roll out a system that would reduce their bottom line.

    Bloody stupid, short-sighted humans… :eyeroll:

    • TamrahJo says:

      I’m sorry to hear this – I believe privatization of water to be one of the most dangerous systems capitalists have dreamed up yet – I hope that enough people get educated about the dangers of water privatization before it becomes a world wide phenomena

  2. df says:

    Great common sense advice, Dohn. I think that a change which doesn’t require behaviour modification is probably an easy win for most folks (or should be!). This is definitely one of those super easy changes that can make a big difference.

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