How to Repair a Bathtub Faucet

A picture of a bathtub faucet with the words, "How to repair a bathtub faucet."

While getting ready for work in the morning, you hear the steady drip, drip, drip of water coming out of a faucet. You turn off the sink and stand still for a moment. There it is again, the slow and steady drip, drip, drip. The culprit, you find after a quick inspection of your bathroom, is your bathtub’s faucet. This slow drip is an indicator that your faucet has, unfortunately, sprung a leak. As a hands-on individual, you decide to give fixing your faucet a try. But where do you start? Thankfully, the experts at HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler have the answers! Check out this nifty guide on how to repair your bathtub faucet.

What Tools Will I Need?

Every good plumber knows that working without tools is a recipe for disaster. Here are the tools you will want to have at your disposal:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Bath socket wrench
  • Hand puller
  • Seat wrench
  • Utility knife
  • Plumber’s grease
  • Stem valve repair parts

Make sure that you also have replacement parts available in case you need them. These parts can easily be found at your nearest hardware store. You may want to bring your old parts to the store with you so that you can find exactly what you need. In the world of plumbing, there is a wide variety of parts available to fix a faucet so you need to make sure you get ones specific to your needs.

Repairing the Faucet

Step One, Disassembling the Faucet

To begin, remove the faucet handle. This can be a bit tricky as corrosion, which happens over time, can make the handle stick to the stem. Make sure you turn off the water supply to the faucet and open up the valves so that any excess water can escape. Next, take your utility knife (or a thin pocket knife) and carefully pry off the handle insert.

Next, you will need to remove the screw holding the handle in place. You should then be able to remove the handle by wiggling it off. If it isn’t budging, you can take a hairdryer to heat up the handle, making the metal expand. (You will only need to heat it up for about 30 seconds.)

Pro Tip:

If the handle is not coming off easily, don’t try to force it. Forcing it could break the handle or cause more damage to the faucet fixture.

Removing the Stem

Once you have successfully removed the handle, remove the stem. You will need to remove the stem assembly with a special bath socket wrench. (It looks like a spark plug wrench but a bit bigger.)

Next, slide the bath socket onto the stem bonnet and turn it counterclockwise. This will break the stem loose and allow it to come off. If it is stuck, you may want to use a lubricant to unscrew and then remove it.

Using a Seat Wrench to Replace the Seat Washer

Leaks can occur when the seat washer stiffens and isn’t sealed correctly. This usually happens over time when the water pressure gradually erodes the brass rim of the seat. To replace the seat washer, you will need to press the seat wrench firmly into the center of the seat. You will then need to turn the seat counterclockwise to remove it. (It should snap out of place.) Coat the threads of the new seat with the lubricant and then screw the fixture back into the fixture.

Replacing the Faucet Stem Parts

You will want to begin by unscrewing the packing nut. To do this, turn the stem clockwise and pull it off of the bonnet. Pry out the old packing washer with a small flat-blade screwdriver. Grease the stem threads and reinstall them into the bonnet. Grease the new packing washer and slide it back into place. Make sure you also grease the packing nut threads so that it slides in easily.

Next, you will want to remove the old seat washer screw and the old seat washer. Grease the new parts before reinstalling them.

After that, turn your attention to the old bonnet washer and grease it and slide it into place.

Finally, grease the handle splines and replace the handle.

Faucet Leak Repair Specialists

If you feel unsure about replacing the faucet parts, the disassembly, or buying the correct parts, you can always rely on the dedicated team at HEB Plumbing & Sprinkler. Led by our fearless plumbing lady, you can be assured that all of your plumbing needs will be handled promptly and with expert precision. Contact our team today for all of your plumbing and sprinkler needs!