How To Stop The Overflow Drain In A Bathtub: Why It’s There And How It Works

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It could possibly be one of the most annoying things during a bath. You fill up your bathtub for a nice relaxing soak, and you get in and find your knees sticking out the water, or you lovely pregnant ladies find that your bump is getting cold and not submerged.

When you take a bath, the water level rises and eventually reaches the top of the bathtub. Have you ever wondered what happens when the bathtub becomes too full? The answer is an overflow drain.

In this post, we will tell you why your bathtub has an overflow drain, how it works and how to stop the overflow drain so that your bathtub fills to the top.

How Do You Stop A Bathtub Overflow Drain And Get A Deeper Soak?

Overflowing Bathtub

Overflow drains in bathtubs can be useful; however, they are not essential. If you have ever wanted to stop the overflow drain but didn’t know how, then you are in luck because we have a few easy ways to do just that.

Overflow Drain Cover

These plastic drain covers stick over the overflow drain with small suction cups and essentially stop the water from draining out. Typically they have a hole at the 12 O clock position, effectively raising the water level, but some models will allow you to also seal them completely.

Once you are done with your bath, you can simply remove the cover and put it on one side, ready for your next bath. No expensive customizations or plumbing are needed.

Waterproof Tape or Duct Tape

If you haven’t bought an overflow drain cover or are waiting for one, then using duct tape or waterproof tape will seal the drain for the time being.

This is a great short-term solution that is not going to cost a lot of money and is very easy to do.

Plumbers Putty

Plumbers putty is waterproof and will create a good enough seal that you can have a deep soak and peel it off once you are done. It is also a temporary solution, but if you don’t have anything else, then the putty will suffice.

Elastic Bands

There is no duct tape, and you don’t have putty in the house, and you really need a deep soak in your bathtub. Grab some elastic bands or hair ties and wrap them around the overflow drain.

This will not create a perfect seal but will reduce the amount of water escaping out of the overflow drain allowing you to enjoy a nice deep soak.

Permanent Overflow Plate

If you are looking for a more permanent solution, then an Overflow plate is ideal. Once fitted, you can open and close the overflow drain by twisting it. The Overflow plate comes in different finishes, so matching them with your taps or tub should be easy.

They are also available in various sizes, so ensure to get the correct size to make sure the drain hole is covered. Remove your overflow drain by unscrewing it and simply screw in the new overflow plate through the same holes.

Why Do Bathtubs Have An Overflow Drain?


Imagine starting a bath, and then you have an important telephone call come in. Half an hour goes by, and you realize that you left the bathtub running.

The overflow drain is there to prevent the water from flowing over the bathtub onto the floors and avoid any flooding disasters in your home, or if you live in an apartment block, then you could potentially damage the flats below.

If you decide to use one of the methods above and have children in the house, then make sure to remove whatever device after your bath so that your child doesn’t inadvertently cause you thousands of dollars in damage.

How Does An Overflow Drain Work?

An Overflow plate covers the drain that sits towards the top of the bathtub under the faucets. Behind the plate is a small hole through which the water drains, which leads to the main drainage system. Once the water reaches the overflow drain, it will start to exit the bathtub through this hole so as not to overfill the bathtub.

Typically, an overflow drain sits at approximately 400mm to 500mm, giving most people of average height a deep enough soak.

Why Would You Want To Stop A Bathtub Overflow Drain?

If, for instance, you are more than 6 feet tall, overweight, or pregnant, then you already know that some part of your body will be sticking out of the water. This is not only annoying but can ruin your bathing experience.

As we mentioned before, a full bathtub will be 400mm to 500mm in depth, but this may not be enough for some people, so locking off the overflow drain is an option as it will give you an extra 75mm to 100mm of water in your bathtub.

It is important not to fill the bathtub completely to the top as you will need to leave space for your weight dispersion. If you feel that water will overflow from the bathtub, then simply open the main drain until sufficient water flows out, and you can sit in the tub comfortably.

FAQS Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a bathtub without an Overflow drain?

There are a number of brands that offer bathtubs without overflow drains. Make sure the bathtub is deep enough to start with to allow you to fully submerge without any body parts sticking out.

Can I use waterproof sealant to close my Overflow drain?

The short and simple answer is yes. However, we would necessarily recommend it because once the waterproof sealant dries, it is extremely difficult to remove and looks very unsightly.

You can remove the Overflow drain first and then put the waterproof sealant on the inside, but if you are going to do that, then buying a drain overflow cover will not only do the job, but it’s something you can pull on and off when you want.

How can I remove the tub overflow drain?

First, you will need to position your drain to the open setting. You will find 2 screws that hold the plate in place, unscrew those and remove the plate. The drainage pipe and the rest of the equipment can be easily removed by pulling them gently through the open drain hole.

Is an Overflow drain necessary?

The Overflow drain is not compulsory, and more and more people are opting for bathtubs without an Overflow drain. Typically, it allows water to drain out of the bathtub and prevents the bathtub water from overflowing onto the floor.

Is it better to use silicone or a plumber’s putty?

We would not recommend either of these unless it was an emergency and you really wanted to have a deep soaking bath. The plumbers’ putty would be better simply because it is easier to apply, and you can use the bath immediately, unlike silicone, where you have to wait 7-8 hours for it to dry.

Additionally, once the silicone is dry, it is very difficult to remove.

In Conclusion

If you are not enjoying your baths because some part of your body is getting cold and you can’t properly relax, then one of the solutions mentioned in this article will definitely help.

The Overflow drain cover is the option to go for, in our opinion, because it just sticks on and can be removed as easily and is very cheap. 

If, however, you are looking for a more permanent solution, then the Overflow plate is perfect because you can open and close it, and no matter your style of bathroom, you should be able to find one that matches.

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