Pro tip for low water pressure: check the aerator

Does your shower have lousy pressure? Do you have a hard time washing your dishes with the slow flow in your kitchen? There may not be anything maintenance can do about it, no matter how many times you submit a request. But you can probably fix the problem all by yourself.

Most modern fixtures have an aerator — a tiny screen — in the faucet or showerhead that can get clogged up with rust and other sediment that flows through our old pipes. In particular, any time the water in your line is shut down for any part of a day, when it comes back on it’s likely to bring a lot of junk up with it.

You can usually remove the head with a simple groove-joint pliers, though it’s a good idea to first wrap some masking tape around the fixture so you don’t scratch it. Inside you’ll find a screen, possibly housed with an O-ring. Pop this stuff out with a paperclip and try not to bend the screen at all. You can clean the screen by pushing water through it the opposite way, or brushing with an old toothbrush. Put the parts back just the way you found them, and you’ll feel like you just bought yourself a new faucet!