When you’re in the kitchen trying to make coffee, and your kitchen faucet has no water pressure, a few possibilities may run through your mind. Is there a broken water main somewhere in the neighborhood? Has the city shut off the water to make repairs? You try another faucet—maybe in the bathroom—and the water pressure from that faucet seems fine. You realize that the problem isn’t the water pressure, it’s your faucet. If you’re experiencing low water pressure at only one water source, such as the kitchen sink, you might have a clogged aerator or a blocked cartridge.
How to clean your sink’s aerator
Homeowners with hard water will likely experience mineral build-up, but it can happen even if you have soft water. But whether your water is hard or soft, mineral build-up is the likely culprit behind clogged aerators. An aerator is the mesh screen right at the tip of your faucet. To fix your own aerator you’ll need a towel, a psi gauge, and possibly a set of faucet pliers.
To fix the clog, unscrew the aerator from the faucet. At this point, you may need the faucet pliers to remove it, but most come off by hand. If you must use pliers, also use the towel to protect the aerator from damage so it can be reapplied easily when you’re finished.
Once you’ve removed the mesh screen, check your water pressure with the psi gauge. Your water pressure should be between 45 and 55 psi. If the pressure registers as normal, then you know a clogged aerator is the problem. If your pressure isn’t between 45 and 55 psi, skip to the section about replacing the sink cartridge.
Clear out any debris you see in the aerator with hot water. If the aerator doesn’t come clean easily, don’t scrub with a bristle brush or use abrasive cleaners that might damage the screen. Instead, soak the aerator in a 1:1 mixture of warm water and white vinegar overnight. If you do not have white vinegar, then lemon juice (citric acid) will work just as well. Once the aerator is clear, put it back onto your faucet and you're done!
How to replace your sink’s cartridge
If your aerator is clean and you’re still experiencing poor water pressure, the sink’s cartridge may be the problem. Your sink’s cartridge is found deeper within the faucet mechanism and lives near the hot and cold valves. To replace the cartridge, you’ll need a hex key wrench, your psi gauge, and a couple of plastic bags to keep loose parts together.
To disassemble the cartridge, turn off the water to the faucet using the two shut-off valves under the sink. If you can’t locate these valves, shut off the water at the main shut-off valve. Find out how to find your water shut-off valve here.
Once the water is off, use a hex key wrench to remove the faucet handle. The faucet handle is the screw cap and screw that hold down the faucet handle. You’ll see a round or hexagonal cap, and that needs to be removed too. Now you should be able to lift out the cartridge, but some faucet models may be secured with more screws that need to be removed. Take the cartridge you removed to the hardware store, find a matching replacement, and follow the instructions for installation.
When the cartridge has been installed and the faucet is reassembled, before you call it a day, check your water’s psi one more time. Make sure it’s still between 45 and 55 psi, since high pressure can cause damage to your pipes.
A Whole Home Inspection
Clean water and reliable plumbing are both necessary for your home’s health. Like most conscientious homeowners, you’ll want to prevent plumbing problems before they start. Engaging a plumbing professional to perform a whole home inspection solves much more than a single problem with your pipes. They know how to spot issues that might mean bigger problems down the road and help you avoid potential catastrophes.
During a whole home inspection, a plumbing professional will crawl under your house and investigate every water source. They’ll closely examine your home from the floor to the ceiling looking for signs of new and old water damage. They might even inspect your appliances and ask questions that lead to clues about the current and future health of your plumbing.
They’ll even check your home’s sewer and investigate the yard for saturated spots that could be the first sign of a sewer back up. It isn’t the most pleasant job, but they take it very seriously. Finally, they’ll examine your water heater to help prevent the destroyed carpet, warped floorboards, and even the illness-inducing mold and mildew that a damaged water heater might cause. Such a thorough inspection can only be performed by skilled professionals who are equipped with the knowledge and tools to prevent problems before they arise, and quickly fix problems when they occur.
Let us help
Companies like Mr. Rooter Plumbing offer whole home inspections and a regular maintenance program that pays for itself by reducing emergency calls and damage that leaks can cause. But if you do have an emergency, your local Mr. Rooter Plumbing can meet all your plumbing needs. Our beneficial Advantage Plan makes the experience of calling a plumber simple and easy. And because it’s Mr. Rooter, we promise to leave your home and lawn in a respectable condition.
If you’ve got enough to handle, let Mr. Rooter take care of the plumbing.