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A person installs a brand new single handle faucet in a bathtub

How to Fix a Leaky Tub Faucet

Finding a leaking faucet in your bathroom is not just annoying; it's also costing you a lot of money. If left unattended, you're flushing gallons of water to waste down your drain, potentially increasing your water bill. Even worse, it could lead to drywall damage or mold growth.

Luckily, you can learn how to fix a leaky tub faucet in a few simple steps. All you need are the right tools and the knowledge to get the job done—so let’s start by going over the plumbing supplies needed

Types of Bathtub Faucets 

Before you learn how to repair a leaky tub faucet, you have to find out if it’s a double-handle or a single-handle faucet. By knowing this, you will be able to identify which parts require replacement.

Single-Handle Bathtub Faucet 

This type of bathtub faucet has one handle with a valve cartridge that controls the water flow. In most cases, a bathtub faucet leak seen in this model is due to the entire cartridge or the rubber washers eroding or getting worn out. 

If the valve cartridge is causing the leak, it must be replaced with a new one specific to the faucet’s model and brand. Otherwise, the rubber washers must be replaced.

Learn How to Repair a Single-Handle Leaky Tub Faucet

Double-Handle Bathtub Faucet 

A double-handled faucet has two separate knobs and stem assemblies for hot and cold water. When you find a leak, it means that either side has a worn-out washer that can no longer hold back the water pressure. In this case, replacing the rubber washer is the solution. 

Learn How to Fix a Double-Handle Leaky Tub Faucet

A stainless steel double-handle bathtub faucet fills a tub with water

Image source: Canva

Tools You Need to Stop Bathtub Faucet Leaks

Learning how to fix a leaky faucet in the bathtub requires the proper tools and replacement parts, which differ per type of faucet. 

Single-handle bathtub faucet Double-handle bathtub faucet
Adjustable wrench Adjustable wrench
Flathead screwdriver Flathead screwdriver
Phillips head screwdriver Phillips head screwdriver
Allen wrench Flashlight
Needle-nose pliers Seat wrench
Cartridge puller tool Rubber flat faucet washer and screw kit
Replacement valve cartridge Two replacement faucet seats
Replacement washer and spring set

How to Fix a Leaky Tub Faucet: Double-Handle

  1. Identify the Leak Source 

Your first step in stopping a double-handle bathtub faucet leak is to determine which side is leaking. Do this by touching the water dripping from the faucet and testing the temperature.

If the leak is small, you may not be able to gauge the temperature of the water correctly. In this case, it may be necessary to repair both sides. 

  1. Shut Off the Water Supply 

Before starting any repairs, ensure you turn off the water supply. This might involve shutting off the valves under the sink or the main water supply to your home. Then, open the bathtub faucets to relieve the water pressure and let the water drain. 

  1. Remove the Faucet Cap, Handle and Escutcheon 

Remove the decorative caps on the faucet handles using a small flathead screwdriver and set aside. Then, remove the screw inside the faucet handle with the Phillips head screwdriver and pull the handle out. After that, you can unscrew the escutcheon and remove it. 

  1. Remove the Stem Assembly 

Using an adjustable wrench, unscrew the brass nut covering the faucet stem assembly. Then, remove the stem assembly from the faucet body. Be careful not to damage the fixture. 

  1. Remove and Replace the Rubber Washer 

Find the rubber washer at the bottom of the stem assembly and remove it using the Phillips head screwdriver. Check if it’s worn out. If it’s squeezed flat or indented with a groove, replace it with a new one. 

Clean the back of the faucet stem first before fitting the replacement rubber washer to ensure a tight seal.

  1. Inspect the Faucet Seat and Replace It if Needed 

The faucet seat secures the stem assembly in place. Remove it with a seat wrench to check for damages, such as nicks, corrosion, or worn parts. If there’s damage, this must be replaced. 

  1. Reassemble the Bathtub Faucet Assembly 

Reassemble the bathtub faucet by fitting the stem assembly back in place. Then, replace the escutcheon before sliding the faucet handle back into the stem. Finally, screw the faucet and its cap back into place.

A plumber removing a single-handle faucet’s handle with a Phillips screwdriver

Image source: Shutterstock

How To Repair a Leaky Tub Faucet: Single-Handle 

  1. Shut Off the Main Water Valve 

Turn off the water supply valve in the bathroom or turn off your main water supply. Open the faucets to drain the remaining water.

  1. Remove the Faucet Handle

Remove the faucet handle screw near the lever’s base with an Allen wrench. Pry off the cover with a flathead screwdriver and pull the handle after. If necessary, remove the escutcheon too with a Phillips head screwdriver.

  1. Remove the Retaining Clip

Remove the retainer clip using needle-nose pliers. Grip the top of the U-shaped wire retainer clip and lift it to remove. 

  1. Remove the Cartridge 

Remove the cartridge using the needle-nose pliers or regular pliers. However, you need to take note of the position of the cartridge first. You have to reinstall it in the same position. 

  1. Replace the Washer 

With a flashlight, check the rubber washer inside the faucet seat for damages. Remove it and the spring after it using any screwdriver. Replace with a new set of washers and springs.

  1. Reassemble the Cartridge and Stem Assembly 

Install the new cartridge in the same position as the old one before placing the retainer clip back into place. Reassemble the faucet afterward and turn on the water. 

Avoid Leaks by Using High-Quality Faucets at NYDirect 

Knowing how to stop a leaky tub faucet is great, but it’s also an easily avoidable headache. Prevent bathtub faucet leaks with high-quality, durable faucets and other plumbing fixtures from NYDirect.

Get exactly what you’re looking for with our seamless ordering process and receive your products same day! Can’t find what you’re looking for? Reach out to our team for assistance.

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