How to Repair a Leaky Bathtub


Normal wear and tear can cause bathrooms to develop leaking problems over time and bathtub leaks are among the most common. Most DIY homeowners can repair it themselves, saving the cost of hiring a professional plumber. Leaks should be repaired as soon as possible to avoid water damage to the bathtub and flooring and to stop mold formation. The first step in repairing a leak is to locate its source; there are a few common leaking spots to check.

Things You'll Need

  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Clear silicone
  • Toothbrush
  • Bathtub cleaner
  • Drain clog cleaner
  • Hammer
  • Small chisel
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement faucet washer/gasket
  • Thread tape

Drain Leak

  • Check the drain pipe for clogs, which can cause a tub to leak if the clog is down in the pipes (a clog near the surface causes a simple backup). Remove the clog with a drain clog remover.

  • Clean the drain rim around the drain opening in the tub with a toothbrush and cleaner.

  • Apply a thin bead of clear silicone around the rim. Do not apply so much silicone that it bleeds around the rim. Allow silicone to dry according to manufacturer's directions.

  • Plug the drain with the stopper and run water into the tub to test the silicone seal and determine if it is leaking.

Faucet Leak

  • Turn off the water flow to the supply lines at the shut off valve.

  • Unhook the water supply lines from the underside of the faucet assembly by hand or with an adjustable wrench.

  • Remove the screws that hold the faucet assembly in place. There are typically two or four screws, depending on faucet model.

  • Lift the assembly from the top to expose the washer or gasket and valve threads.

  • Wind thread tape around the valve threading, working from bottom to top.

  • Replace the washer or gasket. Put the faucet assembly back in place, replace the screws and reattach the water supply lines.

Grout Leak

  • Inspect the grouting around the tub and shower surround for cracks and/or missing pieces.

  • Remove as much of the damaged grout as possible with a small chisel and hammer. Lightly tap the chisel against the grout to knock it out.

  • Mix the grout as directed by the manufacturer. Mix only enough to complete the grout repair.

  • Apply the grout to the damaged area with a grout float.

  • Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge. Allow the grout to cure completely according to manufacturer's directions. Run water along the repaired grout to test for leaking.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the bathtub, faucet and tile are old, there may be more than one leak.
  • Be careful when removing damaged grout to avoid damaging tile.

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  • Photo Credit salle de bain style colonnial image by oldjazz77 from
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