A leaky faucet can throw a wrench in your plans and lead to an annoying, inconvenient mess. Many builder-owners replace the valve stems in hopes to stop the leak, but that doesn’t always help. If you’ve replaced your valve stems and the leak is still present, what could be the real cause?
If your bathtub faucet still leaks after you’ve replaced the stems, it is likely because of the O-ring. The O-ring goes around the valve stem and prevents water from leaking out of the spout base. Otherwise, it could be that your faucet handle valve and assembly are corroded and need to be replaced.
You can fix both of these problems on your own in less than 30 minutes if you follow the directions. Don’t let a leaky faucet create a mess in your bathroom. Follow along as explore what steps you can take your fix your leaking bathtub faucet.
Table of Contents
- Other Reasons Why a Bathtub Faucet is Leaking
- Replacing The O-Ring
- Replace Valve Handle
- Related Questions
- What Did We Learn?
Other Reasons Why a Bathtub Faucet is Leaking
Bathtub faucets can leak at the time, and you need to address the problem before it gets work. A damaged faucet stem is the main cause of a leaky bathtub faucet, but that’s not the only possibility. Many homeowners replace their faucet stems only to see that nothing has changed, and the faucet still leaks.
Sometimes a leak can become even worse after you replace the stem if that wasn’t necessary, to begin with. This can also happen if you replace the stem with one that isn’t compatible with your faucet. Otherwise, it could simply be that your stem was not the problem and that you need to address other parts of the faucet.
If you replaced the stem and it didn’t help, the problem is likely your O-ring or faucet handles.
Replacing The O-Ring
The O-ring on a faucet keeps water from spilling out of the spout base and creating a mess. Bathtub faucets generally only have one O-ring, and you can find it around the valve stem. You can avoid replacing stems by inspecting and addressing the faucet’s O-rings first.
However, you can still fix your leak after replacing the stems by replacing the O-rings around the valve stem. The O-ring is typically the cause of the problem if your bathtub only has one faucet, but it’s an easy fix. Turn off the water to the bathtub, and you can safely replace the O-ring.
Step 1. Remove Valve Stem
You have to remove the valve stem to replace your bathtub faucet’s O-ring. Some bathtubs have two valve handles that control the hot and cold water respectively, and others have a single handle. Removing the O-ring on a two-handle shower valve is the same as a single valve handle faucet.
Gently remove the valve handle cover with your fingers or a flathead screwdriver. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the screws between the stem and handle. Pull the handles off by hand and use a screwdriver or knife to get rid of caulk around the valve stem.
Remove the valve stem nuts with a socket wrench and pull the valve stem out. Set the washers and valve stem aside to replace them later on.
Step 2. Pull Out Escutcheon Plate
Now, use a screwdriver to remove the escutcheon plate around the bathtub faucet. They typically have two or three screws and come out easily. Hold onto the screws for later and remove the escutcheon plate by hand.
Step 3. Remove O-Ring
You can remove the O-ring once with a pair of pliers, or with your hands when it’s exposed. Pull out the O-ring and clear any debris with a utility knife. You can discard the O-ring because it is now useless.
Step 4. Install New O-Ring
Rub some grease or petroleum jelly on the new O-ring so that it installs easily. Now, grab your valve stem, put the O-ring around it, and make sure that it slides down. The petroleum jelly should make the O-ring slide down easily.
Now, simply put the valve stem back into the housing and put the escutcheon plate, washers, and nuts back in. Secure the faucet handle, turn your water back on, and see if it still leaks water.
Replace Valve Handle
Replace your valve handle or handles if replacing the stem and O-ring didn’t help. Gather a pocketknife or utility knife, screwdriver, seat wrench, handle puller, socket wrench, and new valve handle for this fix.
Step 1. Loosen Handle Screw
Your faucet valve handle likely has a handle screw behind the insert in the center. Remove the insert with a pocketknife, fingernail, or even a guitar pick. Set the insert or inserts to the side and loosen take note of the handle screw that is now exposed.
Use a screwdriver to loosen the handle screw until it pulls out. This step can be difficult if the faucet handle is old and rusted due to corrosion. Exercise caution as you pull out the handle screw so that it doesn’t break off and become stuck.
Step 2. Remove the Handle
You can pull the handle out with your hand if there is not much corrosion or rust. Try not to pull the handle too hard if it won’t come out as you can damage the plumbing. You can use a handle puller to avoid causing damage if it’s necessary.
Insert one end of the handle puller into the hole where the handle screw was. Clamp the handle puller down around the back of the handle and twist it until the faucet handle comes loose.
Step 3. Pull Stem Out
Now, pull the stem out the same way that you would replace the O-ring. Remove the escutcheon and stem assembly with a socket wrench intended for bathtubs.
Step 4. Remove Seat
Faucet handles go deep back into the seat behind the assembly. You will see the faucet seat once you’ve removed the handle and stem. Put a seat wrench into the opening to the seat and make sure that it is firmly on. Turn the seat wrench clockwise until it comes loose and carefully pulls it out, then insert and tighten the new seat.
Step 5. Install Stem and Handle
Now, you can reinstall your new valve stems and put them on the handle or handles. This part is easy if you’ve already replaced the stem and your bathtub faucet still leaks. Make sure that the far end has a seat washer, and the end that the handle connects to has handle splines.
Make sure to apply petroleum jelly or grease to the handle splines before you put the escutcheon plate back on. Now, you can put on your brand new faucet handle. Turn the water supply back on, and you will likely see that leaks aren’t a problem anymore.
Do bathtub faucets come with flow restrictors?
They don’t often come with flow restrictors, but you can purchase flow restrictors for bathtub faucets. The flow restrictor helps control the flow of water going into the bathtub and can slow it down.
Are bathtub faucets interchangeable?
Many bathtub faucets are interchangeable, but you need to check to make sure before you swap them. Some bathtub faucets have can simply slip on, and others are threaded.
What Did We Learn?
Your bathtub faucet may still leak after replacing the stems if the O-ring is damaged. The O-ring goes around the valve stem and helps to prevent water from seeping out of the spout base. You can replace the O-ring by removing the valve stem, escutcheon plate, and old O-ring.
The old O-ring can come out easily by hand or with pliers if you have trouble pulling it out. Lubricate the new O-ring with grease or petroleum jelly so that it easily slides down the valve stem. Now, the new old ring should hold water at bay and prevent leaks in the bathtub.
Otherwise, you may need to replace the faucet handles if the leaks persist. Loosen the handle screws, remove the handle, pull the stem out, and remove the seat at the back, then install the new stem, seat, and handles. Your bathtub faucet should no longer leak after you try these quick and easy fixes.