How to Fix a Running Bathtub Faucet

Drip, drip, drip… These small sounds indicate the early stages of a leaking faucet. Over time, the drips become more frequent, until at last they become a steady stream. Before you know it, your bathtub faucet is running constantly no matter how tightly you turn the handle shut. Today, we discuss how to fix a running bathtub faucet.

What Causes Running Faucets?

Whether located in your bathtub, kitchen, or laundry room, running faucets don’t happen randomly. The main cause of a running faucet is that the internal components are wearing out.

The most common problem components include:

  • Washers
  • O Rings
  • Seals
  • Gaskets


Each of these parts fits on to a ‘stem’, which is also called a ‘cartridge’. Oftentimes, you can replace individual washers or seals, which can solve the problem. However, older leaking bathtub faucets may require a new cartridge altogether. Unless you’re already familiar with the inside of your tub faucet, it’s impossible to tell until you are looking at the cartridge first hand.

You may be thinking that the slow drip in the tub is easy to ignore. Since it’s contained within the tub and not leaking all over the floor, what’s the big deal?

The truth is that leaks never get better on their own. Water wears down even the hardiest materials when given enough time. The same is true with your running faucet.

It may be a minor nuisance now, but as time goes on, more and more water will pour down the drain. This can quickly add to your water bill. Plus, the constant water flow will wear down the enamel in your tub basin much more quickly. Fixing a small leak now will save you a lot of costs later.

How to Fix a Running Bathtub Faucet

After you learn how to fix a running bathtub faucet, you’ll be able to complete this DIY project in an afternoon. If you have more than one leaking faucet, it will be good knowledge to have for the long run!

Note: There are several different sizes and types of bathtub cartridges. If you know the type of cartridge that belongs to your bathtub faucet, go out and grab a replacement before you begin. If you are unsure, follow the steps below to remove the cartridge. Then, visit your local hardware store to find a matching replacement.

10 Steps to Fix a Running Bathtub Faucet

1. Turn off the water to the tub. The method will depend on how accessible the pipes are. If you have access to the pipes in the wall directly behind the tub, then shut off the water flow from there. If you do not have access to the pipes in the wall, then shut off the main water valve to the home. This step is a crucial one: skip it, and you’ll wind up with water everywhere.


2. If your faucet has a handle cap, remove it next and set it somewhere out of the way. You will usually find that the handle cap bears the manufacturer’s logo, or a ‘hot/cold’ indicator. If your faucet does not have a handle cap, then you will see a screw on the side. Remove the screw.

Remove the faucet caps.









3. Remove the handle from the faucet head and set all parts that you remove in a safe place.


4. If your faucet has a single handle, remove the escutcheon, the shield-like cover behind the handle.

5. Remove the stop tube. This part will cover a cartridge. This cartridge is held in place by a retainer clip. Remove the retainer clip.

Remove the retainer clip and stop tube to reveal the cartridge.










6. Remove the old cartridge and replace it with the new one. Secure the retainer clip in its original place.

Remove the faulty tub faucet cartridge.









7. Replace the stop tube.


8. Replace the escutcheon.

9. Replace the handle and handle cap, if your faucet has a cap.

10. Turn on the water to the tub. Now, you are done!


Now that you know how to fix a running bathtub faucet, you can see that this project is pretty straightforward. However, not everyone is comfortable with DIY repairs. When all else fails, call a plumber. If you aren’t comfortable trying this project on your own, then it’s likely best that a professional take over. You could accidentally cause additional damage to your home that could be costly to repair.

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