My bathroom faucet was spewing water at odd angles. The aerator was obviously old and plagued with mineral deposits. So I attempted to remove the aerator to clean/replace it.

With WD-40 and vice grips I was able to get it to unscrew about a quarter turn, but when I tried to reposition my vice grips, the aerator broke in two. The top half with the threading is still stuck in my faucet. Any way to remove this without replacing the whole faucet? I can add a picture if it helps.

  • 5
    A picture would definitely help.
    – kdgregory
    Feb 21, 2012 at 2:05

8 Answers 8


Mineral build up has likely cemented the aerator in place, so:

Wash off the WD40 residue with soap as best you can.

Get a glass or cup. Fill it with vinegar or a citric acid solution, and heat it in the microwave til hot. position the cup under the faucet so that the mineraled up threads are submerged. Let it sit for a few hours periodically warming the liquid and lightly tapping the aerator with a hammer so as to loosen residue. If you are persistent and lucky, the acid will dissolve the mineral buldup to the point you can unscrew the top half of the aerator.

If you have them, a mototool or detail sander might also be used to mechanically nudge the stuck threads. That'll open channels for the acid to get at the mineral buildup.


At this point, the faucet is likely to be unsalvageable. Your "quarter turn" was not the probably not aerator turning in its threads, but the soft metal twisting before breaking. Especially if the water was "shooting out" from holes that were corroded in the metal. An alternate, equally bleak possibility is that the aerator was cross-threaded.

OK, now that I've level-set, the first thing that you want to do is get actual penetrating oil. WD-40 is a lubricant and water dispersant, but it won't do anything to dissolve corrosion. Buy the type that comes in a spray can, because it will be much easier to apply.

Spray the penetrating oil inside the faucet around the aerator, and let it sit overnight. You want to completely douse the area, so that you have the best chances of oil getting into the threads (and yes, it will take some time to flush it all away once you get the faucet working again).

Set up a mirror in the sink so that you can see what you're doing.

Using a small cold chisel and hammer, tap the remaining piece of the aerator. You want to apply tangential force, in the direction of loosening (and offhand, I can't remember if it's right- or left-hand threaded). You don't have to hit that hard; the goal is to break the threads loose. However, you'll probably have to keep tapping until the broken piece comes completely free.

If you have a place to set the chisel (such as a jagged edge from tearing the metal). that will help. If not, you can create such an edge with a Dremel tool and cutoff wheel. Just be careful not to cut into the threads in the faucet body.

  • 1
    I think you were right about my quarter turn. :( I ended up having to replace the faucet ... my impatience got the best of me.
    – Stainsor
    Sep 25, 2013 at 4:01

Same problem here. I applied Kroil, waited overnight. Neither proper-sized extractor nor drill bit worked due to insufficient "grab." Found a couple ragged edges on bottom; inserted sharp 1/2" chisel and tapped tangentially. The remaining thread fragment fractured, and was then easily removed without damage to faucet body threads. removed thread segment


I spent $60 dollars and bought a set of Irwin Multi-Spline extractors on-line. You can use the different sized extractors to grab onto the interior of your faucet nozzle and then you can un-screw the jammed aerator threads. You might be able to find something in the plumbing tools section of your Home Depot or Lowes. Look for pipe nipple extractors. The ones I found were too small for my aerator--that's why I bought the Irwin extractors-- but they might fit yours.

I think the Dremel tool idea listed here would have worked for me. Once you degrade the integrity of the jammed aerator threads, they can be nudged away from the faucet screws. Wish I had seen it before I went for the extractor solution.


A lighter and a pocket knife did it in less than 5 minutes for me - after spending more than an hour before checking this site. I had already taken the spout off, which wasn't necessary.


I actually lucked out buy using a lighter to soften the plastic and break a chunk off with little wire cutters and the rest I pulled off with small pliers

  • I used the lighter method described by the other user to soften the plastic, a knife and small flat screw driver to chip away at one section. Took about 10 mins
    – user50453
    Feb 20, 2016 at 10:24

I have the same problem. I tried various solutions provided here but it did not work. Finally I tried to remove the broken aerator thread with a drill bit and it worked. Get the right drill bit size, 5/8” worked with my Moeen faucet, and just push and turn counterclockwise by hand to remove the stuck aerator.


What worked for me after many different attempts was cutting a small square of paper towel, (about 3 inches) drenched in 100% Acetone. Stuff it up in the faucet and then plastic wrap it.

Wait 20 minutes and with small pliers and a utility knife pick at it. I did this 2 times and on the second try the entire piece popped right out!!!

  • What do you mean by aciditine?
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 9, 2022 at 9:34
  • I'm guessing the OP means Acetone.
    – JACK
    Apr 9, 2022 at 12:10
  • I believe I've corrected the spelling errors. If not, please feel free to edit it back the way it was then explain what you meant.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 9, 2022 at 14:48

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