How to stop your faucet from shooting water everywhere

Have you ever turned on a faucet expecting a smooth flow of water but instead you get soaked by a chaotic attack of liquid bullets from every possible direction? Sucks, right?

This is a problem I see all the time, everywhere. Even in places that are well maintained this simple annoyance shows up again and again. We might have to deal with it at restaurants and airports but not in our homes dammit!

The trouble is nearly always caused by a clogged faucet aerator. Here is a photo of a clogged aerator compared to one that is working properly:

To be honest that one isn't so bad but it's getting there. And since all you need to fix it is about five minutes and a pair of pliers there is no reason to live with sub-standard water-flow. 

The problem is in the part at the end of the faucet that unscrews. This is actually the only part of the process that might be a pain. Sometimes the aerator is screwed on really tight, maybe because someone thought that would fix the weird spraying. If you have to use pliers be firm but gentle. If it's really tight you can wrap a cloth around the aerator to avoid scratching it with the pliers. 

Also, remember the wise words of Confucius (I'm pretty sure it was him), "lefty-loosey, righty-tighty". Having said that, In this case your instincts will be to go in the wrong direction. That's because the aerator is screwing up into the faucet which makes everything backwards. So you will have to turn the aerator to your right to loosen it which is left from the aerator's perspective. 

Once you do loosen it, you will be left with something that looks like this:

As you can see, this one is unclean.  

Now you have to separate and clean the elements. Pry out that o-ring at the top with a butter knife or needle-nose pliers. Be gentle because if you tear it you will have to get a new one and we want to avoid extra work, right?

Once you get the o-ring out you should be able to push the aerator's filters out of the bottom with your thumb. Be gentle though, these parts are often fragile, crusty pieces of flim-flam. 

Now you need to disassemble and clean all those parts. As you separate the pieces, put them in the order they came apart in. Like so:

This way, you won't get confused about what goes where. I've done this a hundred times and every single time I skip this step I regret it. 

I've seen lots of different kinds of aerator so don't worry if yours is not like mine. They all have parts that pull apart and fit back together. 

Take a look at the red part second from the left in the picture above. Sometimes you will have this sort of part. It's a little trickier to take apart but that's where much of the crud is. Use something pointed, the point of a utility knife works great. Be careful!

Here's the red piece disassembled:

After you set them out clean one piece at a time. An old toothbrush or wire brush works great. For some of the calcified stuff you may have to scrape it off with a knife. If you prefer not to scrub you can leave it soaking in vinegar overnight and it will remove all that calcification. It's awesome that way.

Once it's clean put it all back together and enjoy your new uniform stream of water. It should go straight down instead of all over your hands, shirt, sink, the ceiling . . .