How to Repair a Leaking Tub Faucet

A leaking tub faucet can be a frustrating, wasteful problem to have. Fortunately, if you’re a confident DIYer with the right tools, you can fix the problem without professional intervention. Replacing the faucet stem will usually do the trick. In this post, we’ll talk about the tools you need and the process for performing this task.

Gather Your Tools

To start, you’ll need:

  • Screw driver
  • Plumber’s wrench
  • Rag
  • Jar opener
  • Stem wrench

A stem wrench is a special tool that will help you remove the stem from the inside of the wall behind the faucet handles. A stem wrench is only necessary if the hex nut that holds the stem in place is positioned behind the bathroom wall. If the hex nut that holds the stem in place is positioned in front of the wall, then the plumber’s wrench can be used to unscrew the stem. Either way, you won’t know what you need until you get the faucet handles off of the wall.

Remove the Faucet Handle and the Cartridge

You’ll need to take apart the the faucet handle and remove the cartridge underneath. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the bathtub. The water shutoff valve may be found in a panel on the other side of the bathtub, or in the basement underneath the bathtub.
  2. Turn on the water in the bathtub. This drains the water from the pipes.
  3. Use the screwdriver to unscrew the faucet handle from the wall. If you can’t find the screw that holds the faucet handle onto the wall, check behind the hot/cold plate on the front of the handle.
  4. Unscrew the escutcheon from the stem. This is the collar that fits against the wall just behind the handle. You should be able to do this with your bare hands, unless the escutcheon is stuck. If the escutcheon is stuck, wrap the escutcheon in a cloth or a jar opener to protect it from scratches, then use the plumber’s wrench to unscrew the escutcheon.
  5. Unscrew the stem from the wall. Use the stem wrench or the plumber’s wrench to remove the stem from the wall.
  6. Take the stem to the hardware store and use it to find a new stem of the same type.
  7. Take the new stem home and screw it into the wall. Screw the stem into the wall by hand at first, then use the stem wrench or the plumber’s wrench to tighten the stem in the wall. There may be an old threaded tube fitted over the old stem that needs to be inserted onto the new stem. This threaded tube is what allows you to attach the escutcheon to the stem, and should be inserted over the new stem.
  8. Screw the escutcheon back into the wall.
  9. Screw the faucet handle back on the escutcheon.

Is The Faucet Still Dripping? Call Your Plumber!

At Terry’s Plumbing, we help homeowners in Pittsburgh fix their faucet leaks and other problems. If you’ve given this leaky faucet your all and you’re still having a problem, call us today at 1-877-483-7797.