How Do I Change a Bathtub Faucet

Murrye Bernard
Bathtub faucet installation

Faucets are expensive enough, so you may want to avoid plumber charges - but you are left wondering, "how do I change a bathtub faucet?"

Before You Buy a New Faucet

Unless you are buying a new bathtub faucet for purely aesthetic reasons, you should determine what went wrong with your existing faucet. There are several possibilities: the diverter has worn out, sending water to the shower head; the threads in the faucet have cracked and water is leaking, possibly behind the wall; or the finish of the bathtub faucet has corroded or rusted.

Before you buy a replacement, be sure you know which type to purchase: a "slip on" faucet or "screw on" faucet. Look underneath your faucet, and if you see a small screw, called a setscrew, then you'll know that it is a "slip on" faucet. Otherwise, it is a "screw on" faucet. Also, be sure to measure the hole behind the faucet, as they are available in different sizes. Once you have the proper replacement, then you're ready to change your bathtub faucet.

How Do I Change a Bathtub Faucet? Step by Step Instructions

First, as with any plumbing work, you must turn off the water supply to your bathroom, which generally will requiring turning off the main water supply to the house. Your new faucet should come with installation instructions, so be sure to follow them, but these are the typical steps you will take:

Use a grout puller to remove any silicone or caulking holding current fixture in place. Now it's time to unfasten any screws or bolts holding the faucet in place. Remember, "Right to Tight, Left to Loose." If you are having trouble, try using a plumbers' wrench. You should be able to remove your existing fixture now.

You will see exposed pipe inside the wall. You will have to screw your new faucet into this, so if it is too short, you may have to add an extension or adapter pipe, which are available at most hardware stores. Once the pipe is ready, wrap plumbers' tape around its grooves, but be careful not to wrap it too many times. The goal is to create a seal to prevent leaks. You are now ready to screw in your new faucet. Replace any old washers with the new ones that came with your faucet, and screw it into the frame assembly until it is secure against the wall. Adjust it so that it is positioned properly.

Finally, you should add a new layer of silicone to prevent leaking and help keep the faucet in place. Use your finger if necessary to make sure the caulking is neat. Allow it to dry at least half a day before using the bathtub or shower.

Tips and Other Considerations

The process described above is a best-case scenario. You may be lucky and have a relatively easy time changing your faucet, or you may encounter some problems:

  • Check for an access panel to get to the faucet assembly behind the wall. Rear access panels are often located in closets behind the tub.
  • If your home and its plumbing are older, you may encounter different types of piping: copper, plastic or iron. This may require installing converters to mitigate between materials.
  • If you encounter lead pipes, they must be replaced as lead is harmful to your health. You may need to call in an expert.

Where to Buy Bathtub Faucets

Now that you understand the answer to the question "how do I change a bathtub faucet?," try these sources when looking for a replacement:

How Do I Change a Bathtub Faucet