I lost the aerator from our kitchen faucet, and now nothing I buy fits. Do I have to replace the faucet? You’re closer than you think to the fix. First, be sure that you’ve got the wrong aerator. I’ve seen correctly sized aerators not thread on the first try because a little-dirt or corrosion on the faucet prevents the threads from taking. Use a mini plastic brush (which you should keep in your plumbing kit) to lightly brush the mounting area on the faucet. Rinse the area clean and try the aerator again.
Assuming the aerator still doesn’t fit, cleaning the aerator mount will at least tell you whether the faucet has external or internal mounting threads. If it has an external thread, then the correct aerator will have an internal thread. The opposite is also true: Internal thread on the faucet means external thread on the aerator. Knowing that cuts your choices in half. Next, bring the nonfitting aerators back to the hardware store, and use them to narrow the field. Let’s say you bought a 1 1/16-inch and a 13/16 inch aerator, and they’re close–but no cigar. The correct fit is probably the size between those: 3/4 inch.
You can also buy a Kissler faucet aerator thread gauge for around $40. It’s a piece of aluminum plate, with holes that are precision-threaded to match every aerator size, and it comes with a matching set of studs (basically, headless bolts) that thread into it, so you can check aerators with internal or external threads.
My son ribs me about the folding ruler I carry, as do my brothers, one of whom is a carpenter. What’s your opinion on them?
Colin A., Redmond, Washington
On your brothers? I’d have to meet them first. But on the ruler, I’m with you. I own and use a six-foot and an eight-foot folding ruler and a 25-fooftape measure. I’m not doctrinaire about using any of them. I use a-tape measure when working with construction lumber and plywood, when installing trim, and when working outdoors. I keep a six-foot folding ruler in my toolbox and use it to measure inside narrow cavities. Working inside the shop, I often use an eight-foot folding ruler. The best tool for the job is the one that works best for you, whether it folds, rolls, flies, or floats.
Contributor Pat Porzio, an HVAC manager for Russo Brothers in East Hanover, New Jersey, sees a lot of less-than-ideal “repairs.” On one recent job, he came across this creative cover for an attic electrical box. Have you seen anything worse than this? If so, send your finds to