How to Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet

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Are you annoyed by a dripping bathtub faucet? Not only is it a waste of water, but it can also increase your utility bills. Luckily, you can easily fix it with the right tools and knowledge. We will provide a step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet.

We will provide instructions on how to turn off the water supply, access the internal parts of your bathtub faucet, and replace any necessary components. By following these instructions, you can fix your leaky bathtub faucet without having to hire a professional, which will help you save money and conserve water.

Why Do Faucets Leak?

Why Do Faucets Leak?
Image by wirestock on Freepik

A faucet can leak due to mineral buildup, corrosion, or worn-out O-rings. Essentially, when you turn on the water, a cartridge with rubber or neoprene washers opens and closes against the water inlet ports to control the flow. If the washers don’t fit properly inside the faucet body when turned off, water can trickle up to the spout and create a dripping sound. Let me know if you need further clarification on how faucets work.

Water wastage is often caused by corrosion or mineral build-up when washers or seals fail to function properly. Even with traditional faucets, worn-out O-rings beneath the spout assembly can cause dripping even when the faucet is turned off.

Identify The Type of Faucets

Here is a simple overview of each faucet type:

Faucet TypeHandleKey Components
CartridgeSingle handleInternal cartridge
CompressionSeparate hot and cold handlesValve stems, rubber washers
Ceramic DiskSingle handlePair of ceramic disks

Identifying the correct faucet type is crucial for addressing the leak and ensuring a successful repair. Once the faucet type is determined, specific steps can be taken to fix the leaky bathtub faucet.

How To Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet

Gathering Tools and Materials

To avoid making multiple trips to the hardware store and ensure a successful repair of a leaky bathtub faucet, it is important to gather all the necessary tools and materials beforehand. 

You will need basic tools like an adjustable wrench, a screwdriver (both flathead and Phillips), a pair of pliers, and a bucket or towel to catch water. Additionally, you should have replacement washers, O-rings, or valve cartridges (specific to the faucet model), and plumber’s tape to replace worn-out parts.

Steps to Follow

1. Turning Off the Water Supply

If you need to fix a leaky bathtub faucet, you should first turn off the water supply. Find the shut-off valve, which is usually located behind the tub in an access panel or in a nearby closet or basement area.

Turn the valve clockwise to close it, and then open the faucet to let any remaining water drain out. If the water keeps flowing even after you close the shut-off valve, it is best to seek help from a professional plumber.

2. Remove the Faucet Handle

To check the faucet, you need to remove the handle. First, use a wrench to loosen the screw located in the center of the handle. Once that’s done, gently wiggle and pull off the handle.

To access the inside of your tub faucet, remove the collar piece (metal decorative cylinder). Look at the bottom of the collar for a screw or bolt, then turn it counterclockwise to loosen it. Firmly grasp the collar and pull it straight off.

3. Use a bath socket wrench to remove a two-handle faucet stem

Use a bath socket wrench to remove a two-handle faucet stem
Image by wirestock on Freepik

To fix a leaky faucet with two handles, start by removing the decorative plate at the base of the faucet. Use a utility knife to cut any caulk and loosen screws if necessary. The faucet stems are located inside the wall and are screwed into the valve pipe. To remove the stem, slide a bath socket wrench over the stem and fit it over the hex nut.

Turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen it and pull the stem out of the wall valve. If the hex nut is sticking out past the wall, use a standard wrench to loosen it. If you find it difficult to turn the wrench, apply lubricating spray on the hex nut. To prevent any potential leaks, remove both faucet handle stems.

4. Replace the Cartridge

To access the cartridge, first, remove the handle adapter and the device cover. Then, locate a metal barrel under it which can be slid off to reveal the cartridge. It is important to note that worn or damaged cartridges may cause leaks.

Next, pry up the retaining clip and use a cartridge removal tool to remove the cartridge. Finally, turn the cartridge stumps using a wrench until they come off with firm twists and pulls.

To install the new cartridge in the same position as the old one, apply a thin layer of silicone grease and slide it into the faucet body. Then, reinstall the retaining clip, metal barrel, scald device, and handle adapter. Secure the handle in place by sliding it on. Finally, turn on the water supply valve and allow the water to run for a few minutes to flush out any debris from the components.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my bathtub faucet is leaking?

Signs of a leaky bathtub faucet include dripping or trickling water, a constant stream of water, or a noticeable decrease in water pressure. You may also hear a hissing or whistling sound coming from the faucet.

Can I fix a leaky bathtub faucet myself, or do I need to hire a plumber?

In most cases, a leaky bathtub faucet can be fixed by a homeowner with basic tools and some DIY knowledge. However, if you are uncomfortable working with plumbing or if the problem is more complex, it may be best to hire a licensed plumber.

How much does it cost to fix a leaky bathtub faucet?

The cost of fixing a leaky bathtub faucet will depend on the type of faucet, the severity of the leak, and whether you hire a plumber or do the repairs yourself. In general, DIY repairs will be less expensive than hiring a professional, but you may need to purchase specialized tools or replacement parts.

How long does it take to fix a leaky bathtub faucet?

The amount of time it takes to fix a leaky bathtub faucet will depend on the type of faucet, the severity of the leak, and your level of experience. In general, a simple repair can be completed in an hour or less, while more complex repairs may take several hours or even a full day.

Will fixing a leaky bathtub faucet save me money on my water bill?

Yes! Even a small leak can waste a significant amount of water over time, which can add up to your water bill. Fixing a leaky bathtub faucet can save you money on your water bill and help conserve water resources.

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