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,


Further Information


  1. I have a two handle bathromm sink faucets that leaks and my question is,
    1) do we cut off the water supply under the sink before unscrewing the top of the handle
    2) All I found in your wonderful guide, is concerning a bathtub single faucet.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  2. In my case I had 4 taps and they were all still dripping when closed. I replaced all of the washers, but they were all still dripping. I found that in all 4 cases the seat of which the washer presses down against was eroded. But I could not afford any tools to resurface the metal seat, so what I did was drop a free floating tap washer onto the seat, and then reassembled the tap. Presto bingo the drip stopped. The additional washer is NOT being rotated but is simply being compressed downward by the above rotating washer. This provides only downward pressure against the seat and thus the free floating tap washer fills in the eroded areas by shaping itself to the uneven surface. This add-in tap washer is 1 size larger in diameter than the one which is mounted as part of the tap. Anyhow, all 4 taps have been working perfectly for quite some time now.

  3. I have a single handle bathtub faucet that is dripping. I have disassembled to the faucet stem, however there isn’t a bonnet nut holding the stem in place. Rather, there is a plastic piece that fits into two grooves at the top and bottom so that it cannot be rotated. Additionally, there was a U-bracket in the plastic piece that held the plastic piece in place. I pulled it out, but the stem still will not budge. I have beat on the pipe to loosen any stickiness, but to no avail. The faucet is about 12 years old. Any suggestions?

  4. Bathtub washer less faucet will not stop leaking! Can we change to one that uses a washer? Where can we find the plumbing parts needed? Any suggestions are welcomed. Thank you, L. Gentry.

  5. Hi, I have a older still shower faucet. And when we turn it on it comes they the shower head before the shower tab is pulled. Think it’s a oring issue but can’t pull the stem out any thing you can help me out to get it out. Or a possibly easier just replace it.

    Need help and thanks for anything you can do

  6. I have a leaking bathtub spout. They have replaced washer and cartridge.
    still leaking. He has now broken the wall to get behind fiberglass tub wall..Tells me it will take a week to get parts. Does this sound normal?? there are no leaks in the wall..

  7. Great 10-step guide on how to stop your faucet from dripping and repair it. We are certified plumbers, and we always tell our customers that leaky faucet needs to be repaired ASAP because it wastes a lot of water in the long term.

  8. I have a single handle moen tub, shower . Faucet drips, it is a slow drip. Sometimes it has stopped. I had the cartridge replaced in Feb it was fine until Oct. I had a handyman place a new cartridge , we cleaned the valve with a wire brush and wiped it with a soft cloth. Replaced the cartridge and used some plumbers grease. It had stopped for a while. I replaced the knob that moen sent and it started dripping again tonight. Could it be the valve body?
    I don’t want to change the valve body as the tiles and wall will need to be removed to get to it. But, if I must then I will have to.
    Trying to figure out if there is anything else I can do.

  9. I understand, but you can make this process easy and effective through video , please publish a video end of the blog,



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