The water pressure in my bathroom sink is horrific - it’s mere trickle when washing hands after flushing the toilet, while the toilet tank is still filling.

The easiest culprit would be a clogged aerator but I can’t get the dang thing off. It is a Delta faucet and the aerator is built into the faucet. I have tried using homemade versions of an aerator key but the thing won’t budge. I believe it’s stuck in there and kind of cemented in from lime buildup.

The the aerator/underside of the faucet tends to be a hot spot for Serratia marcescens and/or Aureobasidium pullulans (pink slime), despite frequent cleaning of it. There is also white build up on the underside of the faucet that I can’t 100% clean off, even with a wire brush. I’m assuming this has kind of created a cement like effect with the aerator and the faucet.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can remove the aerator? As I mentioned before, it’s really stuck in there and all the typical avenues yield no movement.

Also if anyone has any working tips to keep the pink bacteria slime (S marcescens and A pullulans) at bay PLEASE share! I saw someone mentioned using a 12” electrical copper wire on the drain stopper, in terms of keeping the piping clear of black sludge & I’m hoping pink bacteria too… has anyone successfully tried this?

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    Can probably clean in place. Some vinegar in a small container that you can place under the faucet and leave for a few/five minutes should work. It is just harder to find something to hold the container.
    – crip659
    Feb 20 at 19:57
  • Welcome to Home Improvement, please take the tour. You'll note that we work on a one question per post basis, so please make a separate question out of your last paragraph. That has nothing whatsoever to do with removing the aerator.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 20 at 20:05
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    Vinegar (or citric acid, or CLR (phosphoric acid) etc) would also help dissolve the mineral build-up so you could unscrew it. But if the problem is "mostly while the toilet is running" then it's some clog further up the pipe feeding both items, more likely. Service your water softener, or get a water softener, if mineral build-up is that severe.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 20 at 20:25
  • In the absence of the aerator key I was able to remove it easily with a small pair of steel scissors. I inserted the sharp ends into the aerator grooves and gripped the scissors with my thumb like a door key and turned it open easily.
    – eszed
    Feb 21 at 0:35
  • @eszed: Poor man's spanner wrench.
    – keshlam
    Feb 21 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


One way to hold the vinegar or CLR in place is to put it in a plastic sandwich bag, pull it over the faucet, and hold it in place with rubber bands. For that amount of blockage you might have to leave the vinegar version (I use 50-50 with water) overnight. CLR works faster but can damage some faucet finishes.

  • I previously left the faucet in vinegar overnight and it actually damaged the finish. It also didn’t do much to remove the lime/white stuff buildup on the underside of the faucet. At that point the water flow was good so I didn’t think to remove or attempt to remove the aerator - especially because at that time I did not think it even could be removed, but I’ve since learned of the aerator tool that I feel like should have come with the faucet… regardless having the tool would be HIGHLY unlikely to get the aerator loose at this point. It seems as if it is cemented in there or similar.
    – Kim
    Mar 4 at 0:10

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