How to Repair a Bathtub Leak

  • 3-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $20-90
What You'll Need
Screwdriver set
Pipe wrench
Stem washer
Teflon tape
Waterproof sealant
Old newspapers
Working gloves

A bathtub leak can cause flooding and water damage inside your home. To repair a leaking bathtub, here is what you should do.

Step 1 - Locate the Leak

Leaks can occur in at least 5 main areas in your bathtub, namely the faucet, the grout, the bathtub body, the overflow pipe, and the drain. A dripping faucet and leaking grout are easy to spot, but leaks in other areas of the tub can be challenging to find. To determine if the body of your tub has leaks, wipe the outside of the tub dry, wrap it with old newspaper, then fill the tub with water. You should be able to spot the leaks by observing which areas of the newspaper covered surface of the tub gets wet fast.

If your faucet grout and tub are not leaking, the problem maybe in your pipe or drain. To find the leak, carefully evaluate your piping and drainage system.

Step 2 - Repair the Faucet

If the problem is in your tub faucet, you need to shut off the water supply to your bathroom first before you repair the leak. Make sure that both the hot and cold water supply your tub has been cut off before you attempt to remove the faucet. After shutting off the water supply, remove the plastic cap located on the center of the faucet handle, then use a screwdriver remove the screw that is holding the handle in place. Pull the handle of the faucet, then use a wrench to detach the packing nut that locks the stem of the faucet in place. Some trapped water inside the faucet may gush out at this point.

After dismantling the faucet, install new gaskets inside it and replace the stem washers before you re-install the faucet on your tub. Once the faucet is back in its place, turn on the water supply.

Step 3 - Repair the Grout and the Tub

Small leaks in the faucet grout and tub can be repaired using heavy duty sealant. To repair the grout, clean the leaking area and determine the extent of the problem. If the crack on the grout is minor, you may apply sealant on it to stop the leak. To do so, shut off the water supply to your tub and let the grout dry up completely before you attempt to apply sealant on it. After applying the sealant, wait for at least 3 hours before you turn the water supply back on to give the sealant time to dry up completely.

For small leaks on the body of your tub, you may use heavy duty waterproof sealant to stop the leak. To do this, clean the tub thoroughly, then mark the areas that need repairs. Apply an ample amount of sealant on the cracks and let it dry for at least 3 hours. Once the sealant is completely dry, use fine grip sand paper to remove the extra sealant and smooth out the surface of the tub. Don't forget to check the sealant's label to see if its contents are toxic to breathe in, which means you'll have to wear a respirator mask and ventilate the room while working.