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How to Fix Leaky Bathtub Faucet (In 7 Easy Steps)

hand tool resting on a bathtub ledge next to bathtub parts
hand tool resting on a bathtub ledge next to bathtub parts

A leaky bathtub faucet is not only annoying but can also lead to significant water wastage and increased utility bills. Fortunately, fixing a leaky faucet is a relatively straightforward home repair task that most homeowners can undertake without professional help. In this blog, we’ll walk you through:

  • how to fix leaky bathtub faucet in 7 easy steps
  • Tips to avoid a leaking bathtub faucet

🛠️ 7 Steps To Fix A Leaky Bathtub

bathtub faucet being replaced

Here are 5 simple steps to help you fix a leaky bathtub and prevent further water damage.

1. Gather Your Tools and Materials

Before you start, it’s essential to have all the necessary tools and materials on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
  • Allen wrench (if needed)
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Cartridge puller (if necessary)
  • Towels or rags


  • Replacement parts (washer, O-rings, or cartridge)
  • Cleaning supplies (vinegar, cloth, brush)

Having these items ready will make the process smoother and more efficient.

2. Turn Off the Water Supply

Safety first! The last thing you want is a flood in your bathroom. Locate the shut-off valves for your bathtub’s water supply. These are typically found near the faucet or in a utility area. If you can’t find individual shut-off valves, you might need to turn off the main water supply to your home.

Once the water is off, open the faucet to drain any remaining water in the lines. This will prevent any unwanted spills while you’re working.

3. Remove the Faucet Handle

To access the internal parts of the faucet, you’ll need to remove the handle. Here’s how to do it:

  • Identify the type of handle: Faucet handles come in various styles, including knobs, levers, and cross handles. Look for any visible screws that may be holding the handle in place. These are often located under decorative caps.
  • Remove the decorative cap: If your handle has a cap, use a flathead screwdriver to gently pry it off. Be careful not to damage the finish.
  • Unscrew the handle: Use a screwdriver or an Allen wrench to remove the screw holding the handle in place. Once the screw is out, you should be able to pull the handle off easily. If it’s stuck, gently wiggle it back and forth or use a handle puller.

Step 4: Access the Faucet Stem

With the handle removed, you’ll now see the faucet stem or cartridge, which is the part responsible for controlling the flow of water. Depending on the type of faucet you have, the steps to access and remove the stem may vary.

For Compression Faucets:

  • Remove the packing nut: Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the packing nut, which holds the stem in place.
  • Remove the stem: Once the packing nut is off, you can pull the stem out of the valve body. Use needle-nose pliers if necessary.

For Cartridge Faucets:

  • Remove the retaining clip: Some cartridge faucets have a retaining clip that holds the cartridge in place. Use needle-nose pliers to carefully remove it.
  • Pull out the cartridge: Use a cartridge puller or pliers to pull the cartridge straight out of the valve body. Be gentle to avoid damaging the cartridge or the valve body.

5. Inspect and Replace Faulty Parts

Now that you have access to the faucet’s internal components, it’s time to identify and replace the faulty parts causing the leak.

For Compression Faucets:

  • Inspect the washer: The most common cause of leaks in compression faucets is a worn-out washer. Examine the washer at the bottom of the stem for signs of wear or damage.
  • Replace the washer: If the washer is worn, replace it with a new one of the same size. Apply plumber’s tape around the stem threads to ensure a tight seal when you reassemble the faucet.

For Cartridge Faucets:

  • Inspect the cartridge: Check the cartridge for cracks, mineral buildup, or other damage. If the cartridge is damaged, it will need to be replaced.
  • Replace the cartridge: Install a new cartridge that matches the old one. Make sure it is seated properly in the valve body and replace the retaining clip if applicable.

6. Clean and Reassemble the Faucet

Before reassembling the faucet, take a few moments to clean the valve body and other components. Mineral deposits and debris can accumulate over time, affecting the faucet’s performance.

  • Clean the valve body: Use a cloth and vinegar to clean the inside of the valve body. A small brush can help remove stubborn deposits.
  • Reassemble the faucet: Follow the reverse order of disassembly to reassemble the faucet. Start by reinserting the stem or cartridge, then secure it with the packing nut or retaining clip. Finally, reattach the handle and any decorative caps.

7. Turn On the Water Supply and Test

With the faucet reassembled, it’s time to turn the water supply back on and test for leaks. Follow these steps:

  • Turn on the water supply: Open the shut-off valves or the main water supply to your home.
  • Test the faucet: Turn the faucet on and off several times to check for leaks. Pay close attention to the handle and spout area. If you notice any leaks, ensure all connections are tight and that the replacement parts are properly installed.

💡Tips To Avoid A Leaking Bathtub In The Future

To avoid a leaking bathtub in the future, regular maintenance and timely repairs are key. Follow these steps:

  • Routinely check the caulk and grout around the tub; promptly reseal any areas showing signs of wear or cracks.
  • Clean the bathtub and surrounding tiles regularly to prevent mold and mildew buildup, which can deteriorate seals over time.
  • Ensure the plumbing connections are secure and not corroded; replace old or worn-out parts as needed.
  • Install a quality bathtub mat or liner to protect the tub’s surface from scratches and damage that could lead to leaks.

By staying proactive with these simple steps, you can significantly extend the life of your bathtub and minimize the risk of leaks.

Leave Your Plumbing Worries to The Pros at Thelen Mechanical

bathtub being serviced by a professional repair tech

At Thelen Mechanical, we understand that fixing a leaky bathtub faucet might seem like a simple DIY project, but for consistent, reliable results, trust our professional team. Our expert plumbers save you time and money by efficiently addressing leaks, preventing water wastage, and ensuring your fixtures work perfectly. We take the guesswork out of plumbing repairs, so you can avoid costly mistakes and further issues.

With Thelen Mechanical, you benefit from our extensive experience and dedication to top-notch service, enhancing your home’s plumbing systems and giving you peace of mind. Trust the team at Thelen Mechanical for all your plumbing needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience the best in home plumbing solutions!

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