The faucet of your tub can leak. At times, the leak will be minuscule facilitating a slow drip. This may even be unnoticeable for a while. If the drip is constant and perhaps audible, then you cannot miss it. Do not ignore mild drips simply because they are not concerning enough. You should not wait till the leak becomes severe. Milder drips are easier to fix. Whatever is the severity of tub faucet leaking, you can hire a plumber or you can attempt to fix it yourself. Here is a guide to fix tub faucet leaking without any professional help.
Causes of Tub Faucet Leaking
A tub faucet may leak due to damaged seals or worn-out rubber washers, malfunctioning gaskets or a damaged valve assembly. You have to inspect the faucet, identify the problem and then replace the damaged part. If some screws or some parts are loosened then tightening them should solve the problem.
Get the Parts
You can do this preemptively or after you have inspected the problem. The bottom line is you need the new parts to replace the old parts when you get down to fix the leak. You can get all parts of a typical tub faucet, single handle or double handle, at your nearest hardware store. Make sure you get identical parts, preferably of the same manufacturer. Don’t go for compatible parts as they may not be perfect.
The first step is to disassemble the faucet. Turn the water supply off, drain the water from the pipes through the faucet and then open the handle insert. Remove the screw of the handle, wiggle it and then pull it outward. Some handles are frozen or jammed and if you pull with enormous force then they may break. Use a hairdryer or some source of heat to make it easy. Different handles open differently. Some will just come straight off, some need to be turned clockwise, some require a bit of popping and some will have patches or specific maneuvers. Refer to the manufacturer’s handbook if you have one or check online.
You could also get to the escutcheon plate and take off the screws. Get to the stem bonnet and slide the bath socket, turn it anticlockwise and loosen the stem. Unscrew it and then remove it. You may need some lubricant if it is stuck. You can also use a seat wrench to remove the handle. This is the most demanding step of the job because handles get jammed, corroded and would stick to the rest of the installation.
You have to look for the real causes of the leak. Usually, there are two causes. The seat washer may be loose. The washers may be worn and torn or damaged. Years of use will almost definitely damage the washers and seats. You will have to replace these. Start by unscrewing the packing nut. You can easily twist the stem in a clockwise turn and then get it out of the bonnet. You can slide the packing washer out of the panel. To make it easier, use a screwdriver. You can also use some lubricant to make the steam slippery and easier to work on.
Get rid of the old washer and install the new washer. Make sure you grease the new washer before you install it. As you put back the bonnet and stem valve assembly, make sure they are all cleaned and greased. You can also add pipe joint compound to the threads of the bonnet threads before reinstalling them. Grease the splines, reinstall the escutcheon plate and finally the handle.
The job is not that difficult. You will need some time, effort and a host of tools including an adjustable wrench, utility knife, handle puller, bath socket wrench, and seat wrench. You will need the replacement parts depending on the problem. Regardless of the cause of the tub faucet leaking, you will need stem valve repair parts and plumber’s grease.
Complications of Tub Faucet Leaking
Getting rid of the handle may seem like a herculean task. Over the years, a handle can get too rigid, not to operate but to get rid of. Even if you succeed partially, you may not be able to efficiently remove all the parts. Such complications are very common and that is why many homeowners call in the plumbers. You may have trouble identifying the cause of the leak. The washers may seem fine, they may seem tightened enough and there may be no apparent signs of damage or wear & tear. These don’t imply that there is no leak. The cause is simply elusive. More trained eyes will be able to diagnose the problem. Again, you need plumbers to look for such specific problems. Should you be unsure of fixing tub faucet leaking, get professional help.