How to Repair a Leaky Tub Faucet

Repairing a Leaky Bath Faucet

After years of daily use, a faucet may develop a leak around the handle when it is turned on, or drip constantly from the faucet no matter how hard you try to turn it off. Both problems can often be solved by replacing the washer and sealing the valve threads with Teflon tape.

Start by turning off the water, then remove the screw in the handle of the faucet.

Removing the screw in the handle.

Next, pry off the faucet handle. If corrosion has it frozen in place, you may have to use a spray lubricant like WD-40 and slowly work it loose.

Prying off the faucet handle.

After the handle is off, use a deep well socket and wrench to unscrew the valve from the housing.

Unscrew the valve from the housing.

Once the valve is loose, take it out of the housing.

Taking the valve out of the housing

Remove the screw in the end of the valve, and take out the washer.

Taking out the washer.

Replace the old washer with a new one of the same diameter and thickness and tighten the screw holding it on.

Replacing the washer.

Wrap the housing threads on the outside of the valve with Teflon tape to prevent it from leaking at the handle.

Taping the valve with Teflon tape.

Screw the valve back into the housing, being careful not to strip or over tighten the threads.

Finally, replacing the valve.

Replace the handle, turn on the water, and you should be ready to go.


  1. I have water leak under my bathtub. water coming down the drain pipe. i can’t find where is the leak coming from.How can find my problem. Please help

  2. I have a leak behind my bathtub faucet that has caused the drywall to get wet and the tiles are loose. Whenever we shower the water drips in my laundry downstairs. can you help me?

  3. Hi, I am trying to repair the drain pipe under my sink in the bathroom. This is an old 1939 Spanish house and it has rusted thru and leeks in the elbow. I have purchased the items and bot a wrench. Is there anything I should be aware of when taking off and replacing the new one. I was told not to use plumber’s tape. Thanks, Betty

  4. We tried the fix described in this article, but the tub and showerhead faucets still leak from both hot and cold taps. One of the valves broke when we removed it, so we took the whole set up of both handles to a trusted plumbing supply for replacement parts and advice. When we followed directions but still had a leak, we tried taking it apart to re-do it, but of course that only made things worse. Any ideas?

  5. I have attempted to repair my leaky tub faucet in the recommended fashion, however it continues to leak a lot and it is the hot water that is leaking. We have to turn the water off from the circuit box so the water pump does not run and burn out. Will we have to replace the pipes and the valve? I hope not, that may be expensive. Help.

  6. I had leak from my hot water faucet on the bathtub and had someone come in and fix it, but that person couldn’t and made it worse by taking out the o rings and not replacing them and now the nob won’t turn the water off or on. The plastic tube that’s inside the metal tube could be put on wrong also cause the water is running and the nob is not working. Please help me. Urgent

  7. Thanks so much for the pictures! I’ve read several articles on fixing leaky bathtub faucets but for a non-plumber, this was much easier to understand with pictures included.

  8. Am cursed with a old style brass single handle tub/shower dripping faucet(probably from ’60s or ’70s). Removed brass cartridge, with 2 o-rings. Replaced o-rings, using plumbers grease. Reassembled, but still leaking. Old brass cartridge cannot be replaced. What can I do, short of cutting into the fiberglas surround (one piece tub and surround)and trying to replace old with new tub/shower fixture, or calling a plumber?

    • Hi Alex,
      If the faucet isn’t fixable, try to gain access to the back side of it so you can replace it without tearing up the fiberglass tub.

  9. I keep having the same problem over and over. I have to replace my valve stems every 3 months because the tub starts to drip. This time I replaced them and the drip is still going !!! Can you please help me out here cause I’m at my wits end !!! By the way my valve stems are gerber 11B 1HC

    Thank you,
    Lou Fejes

  10. While this tutorial is quite helpful, it omits one step: one must replace the packing if the fixture is composed of two parts. In the case of the bathroom fixtures in my 40 year-old house, the valve is comprised of two parts, both of which are eight-sided, threaded nipples.

    You may need to use either a flat washer or a beveled washer to make the inner part work properly.(See photos #5 and #6). That is the innermost part of the valve). Buy both. Try the flat washer first.

    Equally important is the PACKING material which lies between the first joint/nipple and the second. In all probability, You’ll have to replace that. It may look like crumbled black rubber by now. Scrape it out as well as you can and replace it with tubular Teflon packing. (It looks like white string and it comes in varying thicknesses).

    Those who are experiencing a leak behind the drywall and/or tile may be in need of replacement packing as well as a replacement forward washer. If there is a second hex-shaped joint, that’s where the packing would go.

    BE SURE to clean all screw surfaces with CLR (Calcium Lime Rust — available in most grocery stores and all Home Depots)with a small wire brush to remove all of the crud before putting the assembly back together. This will make everything clean as new.

    Regarding the “deep well extension wrench”: Look for one in your automotive store. They’re sold as spark plug wrenches. They’re less expensive than the ones sold by Home Depot. I used standard socket wrenches and a vice grip!

    It’s really easy!

  11. Hello: We have an old fashioned bathroom faucent (two handles for hot & cold) that is leaking. The problem is it does not have a pop up piece to find the washer. Instead it seems everything is connected. There is a tiny hole but I am not sure if that is where we would need to insert an allen tool to get it loose. Perhaps it is and it is so worn. I can’t even describe this kind of sink – perhaps you my know what I am talking about. We thought we could get to it via the handles, but the wooden knobs just unscrew and there is no washer in there. Please give us some insight as to what kind of faucet we have. The house is old and the previous owners did some kind of remodeling in the late 60’s or 70’s. Any kind of help would be most appreciated.

  12. I have replaced valve stems washers & seats & in all 3 hot cold & shower heads & also used teflon tape where needed. I’m still having a leak out of facet in bath tub. Is there any thing else I can do?

  13. I have a 50 yr. Old American Standard, repacked hot & cold stem assys, cold is great. In a few yrs, hot side leaking again. Had a blue washer, I put in the black rubber washers, only last about a year. Where can I buy the blue washer for hot side that lasts longer? Thank you.?

  14. I have a single handle faucet in the tub that drips, I turned off the water to the house, removed the handle using the allen screw under neath, and removed the dome cover that holds it all together and pulled the internal parts out. The rear plastic plate that slides back and forth and up and down was dry so I greased it with plumbers grease. I noticed the small rubbers covering two springs in the rear where the water enters the faucet are flat. Do you think they are my problem since on reassembly I still have a drip? should these rubbers have a rounded front edge like o rings?

  15. My bath tub is dripping I had a plumber come and he said that it would cost over 3000 dollars I have a trailer and he said need to replace the entire tub and wall please help me I think all it needs is washers replaced

  16. My tub faucet leaks and the leak is worse when you flush the toilet or run the water else where in the house. How can I stop this leak?

  17. There seems to be a step missing. The handle is connected to a tubular structure. After you remove the handle, it is still there, but the next picture shows the deep well wrench being used. What happened to the tubular structure/pipe. It has to come off before using the wrench undoubtedly. Not shown.

    • Hi, Lou,
      A step wasn’t missing, but an extra photo was included, and we’ve now removed that.
      Thanks for letting us know!


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