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Tap Aerator Nozzle - Removing Lime Scale

A while back we saw the introduction of a new energy saving device - the tap aerator nozzle.

Energy saving devices all help in reducing our utility bills and reducing wastage. The tap aerator was developed to reduce water consumption. The idea behind the device is that by mixing air with water as it flows out of the tap, the same pressure can be achieved using less water than normal. As some people have said, it produces a 'champagne' like flow.

Flow from tap restricted Close up of restricted flow

However, in hard water areas, these nozzles can quickly become clogged with lime scale resulting in very poor and 'messy' flow. As you can see in the picture, this tap has become so clogged up that the water comes out as separated streams. The aerator itself is a small unit screwed onto the tap outlet and contains a number of plastic and metal gauzes.

Aerator wrapped with rag and wrench being used to undo it Aerator removed revealing lime scale build up

To remove the tap aerator, you will probably need a wrench as it's likely the build up of limescale will mean it's fairly well stuck. To protect the chrome finish, wrap a rag around the nozzle first then grip with the wrench. Holding the tap unit itself with the other hand to prevent it twisting, turn the wrench to undo the aerator. Once removed you will see just how much lime scale has built up inside.

Aerator insert removed gauze coated with lime scale

The next job is to dismantle all the components so that they can be properly cleaned. These units vary, but the principle is much the same with most of them. Pushing from the bottom of the aerator, remove the washer and insert section carefully. Once these are out, you may need to use a small flat bladed screwdriver to release the retaining plastic cap part. With this is off, gently push the metal gauze discs free from the insert, laying them out in the order in which they are released so that you can put it back together correctly when it's clean. Starting from the outermost one, the metal gauze discs will be of progressively finer mesh which helps create the aerated flow.

Components after cleaning Gauze after cleaning

 

Depending on how badly scaled up the pieces are, you may simply be able to rinse them through and use a nail brush to release any stubborn scale. You will need to be reasonably gentle so as not to damage the wire gauze. If this doesn't do the trick, simply soak them in limescale remover for a while. This will break down the hard scale making it easier to remove. Rinse thoroughly under the tap.

If there is limescale on the chrome part of the nozzle, take extra care as this can scratch easily. If left in lime scale remover, the coating will be eroded. Take great care with lime scale remover as it is caustic - read the instructions before using. Note - do not use to clean the rubber washer as it will damage it.

Replacing the nozzle Improved flow of water from tap

Once all the components have been cleaned and rinsed, reassemble all the parts in the same order and insert back into the nozzle. The aerator can then be screwed back onto the tap outlet. This should only need to be hand tight.

Run the tap and you should see a marked difference in the flow as illustrated in the pictures above.

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