How to Fix a Leaking Bathtub Drain

Unless you take frequent baths, it can be hard to tell if you have a leaking bathtub drain. After all, if you shower most of the time, chances are that your drain is never closed.

But a bathtub drain leak is something worth fixing. If left unattended, a leak in your bathtub drain could cause serious water damage in your home and end up costing you thousands in repairs.

To help you avoid that frustrating outcome, we’ll explain how you can find and fix a bathtub drain leak. We’ll also tell you the most common causes of these leaks so that you can avoid them in the future:

  • How to Identify a Bathtub Drain Leak
  • Tools Needed to Fix a Bathtub Drain Leak
  • How to Fix a Leaking Bathtub Drain on Your Own

How to Identify a Bathtub Drain Leak

When a bathtub drain leaks, it can happen in two places — the overflow drain, which is found on the wall of the tub, or the waste drain, which sits on the floor.

If the overflow drain is leaking, you’ll likely notice. Water would flow out of it and into the tub.

Noticing a leak in the waste drain takes a little more work. In order to identify a bathtub drain leak, you should look for water stains, bubbling drywall, and even mold. Any of these things lurking near your bathtub, or on the ceiling of the floor beneath your bathtub, are an indication that you have a bathtub drain leak.

Another thing to look out for is a bathtub drain clog. Bathtub drain clogs can cause leaks, and a clog in conjunction with the other signs indicates a likely leak.

If you find any of these signs, and you’re able to determine that it’s not being caused by improper use (such as a water spill) or a leaky seal from poor caulk installation, then you need to act fast.

Tools Needed to Fix a Bathtub Drain Leak

The solution for fixing a leaky bath drain is to reseal it. In order to do this, you need to have the following tools:

  • A tub drain wrench or channel lock pliers
  • A wire brush
  • A vacuum
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Teflon tape
  • A flathead screwdriver
  • A crescent wrench

How to Fix a Leaking Bathtub Drain on Your Own

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools, it’s time to start resealing the leaky drain. Here’s how:

Step 1: Remove the existing waste drain

Using the channel lock pliers or the tub drain wrench, remove the existing waste drain. Insert the pliers or drain wrench into the drain entrance and then turn it counter-clockwise using a crescent wrench.

Step 2: Thoroughly clean the drain

Use a wire brush to clear out any dry plumber’s putty from the drain. Do the same with the drain hole in the tub, scraping away old putty with a flathead screwdriver as needed. Once all the putty has been removed from the drain walls, clean it up using a vacuum.

Step 3: Remove and clean the gasket

Take a flathead screwdriver and pry off the existing gasket. Once the gasket has been removed, inspect it for cracks. If it is dry and cracked, you need to go to a hardware store to purchase a replacement. Be sure to measure the gasket, or better yet, bring it into the hardware store to ensure you buy the right one. Once the gasket is clean, or a new one has been purchased, place the gasket back into its proper place.

Step 4: Prepare the waste drain for installation

While it’s not mandatory, you can apply Teflon tape to the drain to ensure that a water tight seal exists in the drain. If you do this, the Teflon tape must cover at least five of the threads that are farthest from the drain entrance. Once you have done that, or skipped the tape application, put plumber’s putty around the inside of the drain cover. To do this, roll the putty into a snake that’s 325–650 millimeters thick. Wrap the snake around the threads at the drain cover base.

Step 5: Install the waste drain

With the putty now applied, insert the waste drain back into place and turn it clockwise. Use the channel locks or drain wrench to fully tighten it. Excess plumbing putty will likely be pushed out, which indicates a good seal. The putty that came out can then be wiped away with a paper towel.

Once all that is done, you’ve fixed your drain! Be sure to wait at least 48 hours before showering or bathing so that the plumbing putty can fully dry.

Don’t Want a DIY Plumbing Project on Your Plate? Call Mr. Rooter Plumbing

As you can see, fixing a bathtub drain takes a lot of work. If you don’t want to do it on your own, then we can help! At Mr. Rooter® Plumbing, we have the experience needed to tackle your toughest plumbing issues. From tub repair to leak detection, our plumbers know how to fix whatever problem you may have.

Call us to schedule a service today!