How to Repair a Leaking Single-Handle Bathtub Faucet

The single handle faucet on my bathtub leaks. I’ve taken it apart, but don’t see a washer to replace. How do I repair it? – Heather

Hi Heather,

Most leaks in single handle faucets are the result of a worn O-ring around the valve stem. But before you do anything else, make sure to locate the water cutoff so you can turn off the water to the faucet.

Here’s how to go about replacing the O-ring on a bathtub faucet:

  1. Turn off the water to the faucet, then open the faucet to relieve the water pressure.
  2. Loosen the screw holding the faucet handle, and remove the handle.
  3. Take off the escutcheon plate around the faucet by removing the screws holding it in place.
  4. Loosen the bonnet nut holding the faucet stem in the housing.
  5. Use a pair of pliers to grasp the protruding tip of the valve stem, and pull it straight out of the faucet housing.
  6. Remove the O-ring on the outside of the valve stem.
  7. Apply a small amount of silicone grease to the new O-ring, and slide it on the valve stem.
  8. I like to open and close the water main a few times to blow out any dirt or debris that might be in the line before reassembling the faucet.
  9. Reassemble the faucet by sliding the valve stem back in the faucet house and tightening the bonnet nut.
  10. Reattach the escutcheon plate and handle, and you’re good to go!

Good luck with your project,


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