How to Install a New Bathtub Spout

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Replacing a bathtub spout can be done in less than 30 minutes
Replacing a bathtub spout can be done in less than 30 minutes (Image: Creative Commons: Jessicafm)

Replacing a tub spout is one of the easiest bathroom repairs you can do. There are two major types of spouts--slip-on and screw-on. You can identify which type you have by looking underneath the spout. If there is a screw, you have a slip-on spout. If not, you have a screw-on spout. This article will cover both types. For best results, wait to purchase your new bathtub spout until you have removed your old one. It will ensure that you get the right type and size for your bathtub.

Things You'll Need

  • Slip-on or screw-on spout
  • Hex wrench
  • Plumber's putty or silicone tub caulk
  • Screwdriver
  • Pipe compound or Teflon tape
  • Silicone tub caulk
  • Tubing cutter (optional)
  • Steel nipple (optional)

Locate the set screw underneath the old spout. The slip-on spout has a set screw that holds the spout in place. You will most likely need a hex wrench to loosen it.

Remove the spout by gently pulling it off the pipe. You may need to twist it slightly as you pull. If it does not easily pull off, it may be a "universal" spout that is both slip-on and-screw on. If so, you need to unscrew it by turning the pipe counterclockwise.

Take your old spout to the hardware store to get a new one. Spouts can come in various lengths. You want to make sure that your new spout is the same length as your old one to avoid having to adjust the pipes.

Slide on the new spout.

Tighten the set screw with your hex wrench.

Seal around the spout where it meets the wall with silicone caulk or plumber's putty.

Twist the old spout counterclockwise. You may want to insert a screwdriver into the spout and use it as a lever or use a wrench to remove a spout that is too tight.

Check the pipe coming out from the wall (known as a nipple). If the threads are corroded and the pipe is copper, cut off the threaded fitting with a tubing cutter and replace it with a slip-on spout (see Steps 4 through 6 in previous section). If the threads are corroded and the pipe is steel, you will need to unscrew the nipple with a wrench and replace it. Be careful because removing the nipple can result in broken pipes in the wall.

Take your old spout and nipple (if necessary) to the hardware store to get a new ones. Spouts can come in various lengths. You want to make sure that your new spout is the same length as your old one to avoid having to make other adjustments.

Cover both ends of the nipple with pipe compound or Teflon tape. Screw your new nipple into the fitting located in the wall and seal it with silicone caulk. If you are not replacing the nipple, you only need to cover the exposed threads of the nipple with pipe compound or Teflon tape.

Screw on the new spout by hand. If necessary, you can tighten it by inserting a screwdriver into the spout to use as a lever or with a pipe wrench (cover the end of the wrench with duct tape to avoid damaging the new spout).

Seal around the spout where it meets the wall with silicone caulk or plumber's putty.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the nipple is too short and you need to remove it, use an internal pipe wrench.
  • Removing the nipple when replacing a tub spout can result in broken pipes inside the walls. Do so only if necessary.
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