How To Remove A Tub Spout That Is Stuck

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone
Plumbing work of any kind can be difficult, especially if one part of the fixture is stuck. Tub spouts can get stuck easily and are hard to remove unless you use pliers or a pipe wrench. Whether it be a screw-on or slip-on tub spout, let’s take a look at how you can easily remove it when it’s stuck.

When it comes to plumbing problems around the home, fixing them usually involves disassembling mostly everything, including the bathroom fixtures. While a large majority of them can be removed easily, the tub spout is one such fixture that gets stuck often and can be very frustrating to release.

Your bathtub spout may have visible corrosion or simply not budge when you apply force for removal. It’s normal to have some resistance to applying too much force, for fear of damaging the inner copper tubing. However, how can a stuck tub spout be safely removed?

We understand the stress involved with a stuck tub spout and how it can seem almost impossible to remove. However, with the use of a few tools, some knowledge, and simple elbow grease, you can effectively release your tub spout.

The method and materials required for removing a tub spout that is stuck will all depend on the type and the way that it is installed. A slip-on spout requires you to remove a screw at the back of the device and a screw-on version will need to be removed by hand. We’ve outlined all the steps to remove a stuck tub spout, regardless of the type, and offer some alternate solutions should these procedures fail.

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What Type of Tub Spout?

The first step in stuck tub spout removal is to examine which type you have. Begin by looking at the base of your faucet. If your tub spout is a slip-on, it will be indicated by a small hole at the end of your faucet.

A slip-on tub spout is installed by sliding it over the tub’s ½ inch copper pipe and then secured with a setscrew underneath. On the other hand, a screw-on spout will not have a retaining screw attached to the water pipe and is purely screwed on to fasten. Simply put, if you do not see any screws connecting your spout, it is a screw-on and if you do, it’s a slip-on.

Removing a Screw-On Tub Spout

If you’ve determined that your tub spout is a screw-on, you should theoretically be able to remove it by twisting it by hand. However, if your tub spout is a significant age, it may require a strong pair of pliers. Use pliers or a pipe wrench to grip the spout and turn it clockwise to release.

Some screw-on tub spouts may be tighter because of internal threading or caulk that was applied upon install. If yours has caulk, carefully scrape any excess from around the base of the spout before you try twisting it. This should eliminate some of the hold and allow it to be removed easily.

If your screw-on spout is connected by copper threaded fitting, you’ll first need to snip them off using a wire tubing cutter prior to removal. After they’ve been snipped, rotate the tub spout off of the copper piping and use special care to not loosen any necessary pipe connections in the wall.

Removing a Slip-On Tub Spout

To remove a slip-on tub spout, you first need to locate and unfasten the screw that is holding the spout in place. Turn the retaining screw clockwise to release and use care to ensure that it does not fall into the drain and clog the pipe. Once the screw is removed, grip the spout firmly and pull it toward you.

A strong rotation may dislodge the tub spout, but be gentle as you could damage the internal pipe by lurching the spout away from the wall. If the applied pressure does not detach the spout, it may also have copper threads holding it to the internal pipe.

Cut the thread with a wire tubing cutter, or a hacksaw if a cutter is not strong enough, and twist counterclockwise. After the thread has been cut, you can also insert a screw driving into the tub spout’s opening for extra force and leverage when twisting it off.

Additional Obstacles

Caulk, mineral build-up, and corrosion can cause your tub spout to stick to the wall and remain stuck in place when you try to remove. A gentle scrape of the caulk, or other material, that is directly attached to the base of the spout will likely help it become unstuck from the wall. However, if this does not do the trick, wedge a putty knife or razor in between the spout and the wall.

Quick Tip: A flashlight can also help to locate any potential obstacles that are getting in the way of your twisting motion.

If you do use a putty knife or razor, make sure that it does not damage the internal pipe. Instead of copper threads, your tub spout could have a brass adapter inside that connects it to the pipe. If this is the case, carefully jiggle the spout first, then attempt to twist again. The jiggling motion should dislodge the brass adapter and the pipe.

Using a Hair Dryer to Remove a Stuck Tub Spout

If the above procedures are not effective at removing a stuck tub spout, you can try using a hairdryer. Turning on a hairdryer and aiming it at the tap will cause expansion as the temperature increases.

For safety against electrical shock, be cautious, use special care and turn off the main water supply first. Wearing gloves will also protect from potentially getting burned by the hot faucet. Once the faucet is lowered to a comfortable, but still warm, temperature, grip the spout and pull again. This should make it easier to remove your tub spout and use any of the additional tools outlined above, where necessary.

Vinegar for Tub Spout Calcification

If you have an old tub spout, one of the main reasons that it may be stuck is because of calcification. If this is the case, you can unstick and return your tub spout to a fully operational state by using vinegar. Vinegar is an effective and efficient way to remove calcification from your tub spout.

Soak a paper towel or clean cloth in household vinegar and wrap it around the tub spout. If the tub spout has already been removed, you can also dunk the entire thing, face down, into a container of vinegar. Leave the spout submerged for a few hours and allow the vinegar to slowly eliminate the calcification.

If this fixes the issue, your tub spout can be reinstalled and should no longer stick because of calcium build-up.

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Wrapping It Up

A tub spout that is stuck is very common regardless of its age. Whether your stuck tub spout is slip-on, screw-on, threaded, or has an additional brass adapter, there is an effective method for removal. If the spout does not release by removing the retaining screw, applying safe, but firm, pressure, or cutting the threading, you can try using a hairdryer.

Stuck tub spouts can be difficult to prevent, especially as they age. However, you can revive them by using vinegar to remove any calcification or other build-up that has occurred over time.

For more common stuck fixtures and how to remove them, check out: “ How To Remove A Stuck Bathroom Sink Drain Flange” or “ How To Remove A Faucet Aerator That Is Stuck.”

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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