Almost every kitchen and bathroom faucet has an aerator, which is a screen fitting that screws onto the spout to separate the water into individual streams. This allows oxygen to circulate and aerate the water. In the past, this fitting screwed onto the outside of the spout, allowing you to unscrew it with pliers. While these standard aerators are still common, manufacturers such as Kohler also supply cache aerators on many faucets, which are inset inside the spout where you can't reach them with pliers.
When you purchase a Kohler faucet with a cache aerator, you get a key for removing the aerator in the box. But let's face it, how many people save this stuff? The key is small and unimportant-looking, and you may have thrown it out with the box. Now you discover that the aerator is blocked, and you cannot remove the aerator from the faucet without it. Don't worry, several easy options for Kohler faucet aerator replacement and removal are available.
Removing Standard or Cache Aerators
A standard aerator has female threads, and it screws to the outside of the spout. This is the type of aerator with which most homeowners are familiar. You can remove it by simply unscrewing it, either with your fingers or by using pliers. When the aerator is off, you can either clean it in vinegar or replace the screen with a new one.
A cache aerator has male threads. When you screw it in, it disappears inside the spout, so you may need to look inside the spout with a mirror to verify that it's even there. You can remove it in several ways:
- Put on a rubber glove, put your finger inside the spout and try turning the aerator counterclockwise to unscrew it.
- Wedge a pair of needle-nose pliers against the sides of the aerator and use the pliers to turn it.
- Use a cache aerator removal key, which you can purchase for under $5 at any plumbing supply outlet or directly from Kohler.
Kohler Katun Aerator Removal
The Kohler Katun faucet has a specialty aerator, which Kohler calls a "stream breaker." It's a rectangular assembly that fits inside the rectangular spout and separates the water into two separate streams. You have to remove this periodically for cleaning. Because it's rectangular, you can't unscrew it, so use this procedure instead:
- Locate the set screw securing it, which is on the back of the faucet spout just past the point where the spout curves downward. Remove this screw with a hex wrench.
- Grasp the grid between the screen breakers on the aerator with needle-nose pliers and pull out the aerator.
- Use the needle-nose pliers to extract the individual screen breakers if they don't come out with the aerator.
Kitchen Faucet Aerator Replacement
Many of Kohler's kitchen faucets feature pull-down spouts. These have aerators, although they aren't the standard ones found on fixed-spout faucets. For example, the aerator for the Simplice faucet is part of the spray face. You remove it by gripping it with an adjustable wrench, which is the tool Kohler recommends, and turning it counterclockwise.
If you can't find an aerator on the spray face, it may be installed inline just behind the spray head. To remove it, pull out the head, clamp the tube to prevent the head from retracting and unscrew the head from the collar at the end of the tube. You'll find the aerator inside head or inside the collar, and you can extract it with needle-nose pliers.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.