How To Remove And Replace A Bathtub Faucet Spout

Posted on: 29 January 2016

You may have never thought much about your bathtub spout, but if your spout is worn, corroded or simply outdated, then it is time to replace it with a new one. Replacement is a fairly simple task for the average homeowner, but as with any plumbing home improvement project, extra care must be exercised to prevent potentially-destructive water leaks. Below is a list of tools and materials you will need, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to perform the replacement:

What you will need

  • Replacement bathtub spout shell

  • Bathtub spout sleeve designed for a universal fit

  • Adjustable pliers

  • Allen wrench set

  • Screwdriver set

  • Silicone caulk

  • Steel wool

  • Tubing cutter

  • Paper towels

  • General purpose cleaner spray

Step-by-step guide to replacement

1. Turn off the water supply to the tub - Though the faucet handle will prevent water from flowing to the spout, it is prudent to shut off the water supply to the tub. If you accidentally pull apart a fitting or damage a copper water line behind the wall, serious flooding can occur and cause significant water damage or mold growth. Since most homes don't have a separate water supply valve for the bathtubs and showers, you will probably need to locate the main shut-off valve for the property.

2. Remove the old bathtub spout shell - There are different variations of water spouts used in tub faucets, but most of them are attached to an underlying sleeve or directly to the copper water tubing via internally-mounted fittings. If you don't see any screw heads or hex-head bolts near the back of the spout where it meets the wall, then you can safely assume it is screwed onto a sleeve. In that situation, firmly grasp the spout shell and turn it counter-clockwise to loosen it. You may need to grasp the spout shell with a pair of adjustable pliers to gain leverage on slippery or stubborn spouts. Keep turning the spout shell until it unscrews from the sleeve beneath.

For spout shells attached to the copper tubing with a friction-held screw or bolt, use the appropriate tool to loosen the screw or bolt and pull the shell off the line.

3. Remove the bathtub spout sleeve - If there is no bathtub spout sleeve beneath the spout shell, then move to step 4. Otherwise, continue reading to learn how to remove the spout sleeve:

After you remove the spout shell, then the next step is to remove the old sleeve from the copper tubing. The sleeve is held onto the copper tubing by a set screw, either on the sleeve itself or on a nut in front of the sleeve. Loosen the set screw and pull the sleeve and nut, if applicable, from the copper tubing.

4. Clean the copper tubing - After you have removed the sleeve and/or shell, you will need to clean the copper tubing and area where the spout covered the wall. Scrub the copper tubing with steel wool to remove deposits and debris, and wipe down the wall with paper towels and a general purpose cleaning solution.

5. Attach the new bathtub sleeve - Once the copper tubing and wall are clean, the next step is to slip a universal bathtub spout sleeve over the copper tubing. If the sleeve doesn't slide on all the way to the wall, then you will need to remove a small amount of copper tubing with a tubing cutter. Don't cut too much tubing, or you may not leave enough length to attach the sleeve. After the new sleeve is in position, tighten the fastener on the sleeve to hold it to the copper tubing. Next, apply a thin bead of caulk around the back end of the sleeve where it meets the wall; this will prevent water from running behind the sleeve and potentially causing water damage on the backside of the wall.

6. Attach the new spout shell - Inspect the spout sleeve one last time to ensure it fits snugly against the wall and can't be pulled from the copper line. Next, slip the spout shell over the end of the sleeve and turn it clockwise to tighten it. Do not use pliers or other tools to tighten the shell; tools may mar the surface of the shell or over-tightening could pull the sleeve off the copper tubing. Restore water service to the tub faucet and check for leaks and for proper functioning of the spout.

If you run into any problems or feel you cannot do this on your own, consider contacting plumbing repair and installation services. 

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