Troubleshooting Common Tub Spout Problems

Problems with your tub spout can be as obvious as a dripping leak or as hard to decipher as why the diverter has stopped working. Read more below about the most common tub spout problems, their causes and what you need to do to fix them.

Dripping Tub Spout

A dripping tub spout has a number of causes, but usually is related to the tub faucet valve or the cold and hot water taps. You will need to remove the tub spout and the faucets to replace parts. Stem valve repairs involve more parts. These can include the seat washer, the stem valve seat itself, and the tap washers for both the cold and hot taps. A key reason for the failure of these parts is age.

If your tub spout and faucet are over 15 years old, the seat may have corroded, and the stem valve seat washer may be stiff, so it no longer makes a tight seal. The washers in the cold and hot water taps also lose their flexibility as they age, so you should replace these too. If you have a single tap that controls water speed and temperature, the cause of drips will most certainly be the faucet valve. Remove the old one, take it to purchase a replacement and install the new one.

Rusty Brown Water from the Tub Spout

This problem lies not with your tub spout but your hot water heater. You will probably also see white flakes or grit in the water. This is either calcium carbonate or lime from hard water. Attach a hose to your hot water heater's boiler drain and flush it out every 3 months.

Let the water run out until it is clear. If your hot water heater is over 10 years old and your tub is developing a stain, replace the hot water heater. Newer models have a coating over the heating coil that greatly reduces limescale build up and eliminates rust completely.

Diverter will Not Stay Up for Showering

The leading cause of tub spout diverter failure is when the spout is used as a foot prop for shaving legs. The tub spout will loosen slightly from the wall and the diverter will not be able to stay in its raised position. You will need to replace the tub spout and provide a bath stool for the leg-shavers in your family to use when shaving.

Special Tools You Will Need to Fix Tub Spout Problems

For removing stiff or corroded tap handles, use a handle puller. It is available for $10 and up at plumbing supply and building supply stores. A bath socket wrench will be needed to release the stem valve assembly. It looks like a very large wrench used to remove spark plugs. To remove the stem valve seat, you will need a seat wrench, $20 at plumbing supply retailers. If your tub spout is a twist-on type, you will need a large adjustable pipe wrench to remove it. Wrap the spout in plumbing tape before grasping it with the wrench to get a better grip and prevent scratches.