How to Repair Bathtub Plumbing


Bathtub plumbing wears out over time and use, resulting in costly problems if the repairs are not addressed appropriately or in a timely fashion. Leaky faucets and inoperable drains are perhaps the most common bathtub plumbing problems. This minor bathtub plumbing repairs can be made by homeowners with some basic plumbing knowledge, while more advanced repairs, such as those that involve the plumbing pipes, are best left to professional plumbers. Bathtub plumbing repair parts can be purchased at home improvement stores and plumbing supply stores.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Faucet handle removal tool
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Plumber's sockets
  • Faucet repair kit
  • Rubber gloves
  • 1/4-inch bathtub drain snake

Bathtub Faucet Repair

  • Turn off the water supply to the bathtub faucet. In most cases, water supply valves are located in the access area behind the bathtub faucet wall. If there are no direct shut-off valves to the bathtub, turn off the main water supply to the house.

  • Pry out the faucet handle screw caps with a screwdriver.

  • Remove the handle screws and slide the handles off of the faucet stems. Use a faucet handle removal tool if you cannot remove the handles with a screwdriver.

  • Unscrew the stem collars and slide them off of the stems.

  • Slide the escutcheon plates off of the faucet stems. Escutcheon plates are round cover plates, usually made of chrome, that are used to conceal the bathtub holes for handles, spouts and shower heads.

  • Unscrew the stems with an adjustable wrench. Plumber's sockets are required for recessed stems.

  • Remove the screw that holds the washer to the stem and remove the old washer. Slide the old packing -- a flat, round ring that is usually gray -- off of the stem.

  • Install a new packing onto the stem; slide it all the way up where the stem meets the faucet.

  • Install a new rubber washer onto the stem and drive the washer screw in with a screwdriver.

  • Screw the stem back into the faucet, put the escutcheon plates onto the stems, screw the stem collars onto the stems and hand-tighten the collars.

  • Slide the handles onto the stems and drive the handle screws into the stems with a screwdriver. Snap the handle screw covers back into the handles.

Clogged Drain

  • Unscrew the drain plug to remove it. Stubborn plugs require slip-groove pliers to remove.

  • Pull any visible hair and debris from the drain with your hand. This can be a messy task, so wear rubber gloves.

  • Run a hand-crank 1/4-inch bathtub drain snake down the drain hole, turning it clockwise.

  • Pull the drain snake cable back and repeat the process several times until the blockage is cleared.

  • Remove the bathtub overflow cover screws with a screwdriver and then slide the cover off. The overflow cover is a round plate, located just a few inches under the tub spout.

  • Run the drain snake cable down through the over flow several times to remove any blockages. This also aids in air flow to the bathtub drain.

  • Install the overflow cover and drive the overflow screws in with a screwdriver.

  • Screw the drain plug into the drain turning it clockwise, hand tighten the drain plug.

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