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How to Repair a Leaking Single Handle Bathtub Faucet

By: Danny Lipford

The single handle faucet on my bathtub leaks. I’ve taken it apart, but don’t see a washer to replace. How do I repair it? – Heather

Hi Heather,

Most leaks in single handle faucets are the result of a worn O-ring around the valve stem. But before you do anything else, make sure to locate the water cutoff so you can turn off the water to the faucet.

Here’s how to go about replacing the O-ring on a bathtub faucet:

  1. Turn off the water to the faucet, then open the faucet to relieve the water pressure.
  2. Loosen the screw holding the faucet handle, and remove the handle.
  3. Take off the escutcheon plate around the faucet by removing the screws holding it in place.
  4. Loosen the bonnet nut holding the faucet stem in the housing.
  5. Use a pair of pliers to grasp the protruding tip of the valve stem, and pull it straight out of the faucet housing.
  6. Remove the O-ring on the outside of the valve stem.
  7. Apply a small amount of silicone grease to the new O-ring, and slide it on the valve stem.
  8. I like to open and close the water main a few times to blow out any dirt or debris that might be in the line before reassembling the faucet.
  9. Reassemble the faucet by sliding the valve stem back in the faucet house and tightening the bonnet nut.
  10. Reattach the escutcheon plate and handle, and you’re good to go!

Good luck with your project,


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12 Comments on “How to Repair a Leaking Single Handle Bathtub Faucet”

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  • Cherie Tregnan Says:
    January 16th, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    I have a leaking bathtub spout. They have replaced washer and cartridge.
    still leaking. He has now broken the wall to get behind fiberglass tub wall..Tells me it will take a week to get parts. Does this sound normal?? there are no leaks in the wall..

  • B Smith Says:
    January 14th, 2018 at 8:43 am

    What would cause the kitchen faucet hot water to leak…big time….when you use the bathtub hot water??

  • Kirk Says:
    December 26th, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Hi, I have a older still shower faucet. And when we turn it on it comes they the shower head before the shower tab is pulled. Think it’s a oring issue but can’t pull the stem out any thing you can help me out to get it out. Or a possibly easier just replace it.

    Need help and thanks for anything you can do

  • Callie Says:
    October 2nd, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I would like please a photo of how to stop a leak on my bath tub faucet with instructions please.

  • Linda Says:
    February 20th, 2016 at 5:45 am

    For those of us who know nothing about sink repair/the parts of a sink. A diagram would be awesome!

  • leper gentry Says:
    April 26th, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Bathtub washer less faucet will not stop leaking! Can we change to one that uses a washer? Where can we find the plumbing parts needed? Any suggestions are welcomed. Thank you, L. Gentry.

  • Bee Says:
    March 31st, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    what happens if i do everything in the first part of this blog and i still have a leak?

  • larry sladek Says:
    February 17th, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I have a single handle bathtub faucet that is dripping. I have disassembled to the faucet stem, however there isn’t a bonnet nut holding the stem in place. Rather, there is a plastic piece that fits into two grooves at the top and bottom so that it cannot be rotated. Additionally, there was a U-bracket in the plastic piece that held the plastic piece in place. I pulled it out, but the stem still will not budge. I have beat on the pipe to loosen any stickiness, but to no avail. The faucet is about 12 years old. Any suggestions?

  • Sean Says:
    December 4th, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    In my case I had 4 taps and they were all still dripping when closed. I replaced all of the washers, but they were all still dripping. I found that in all 4 cases the seat of which the washer presses down against was eroded. But I could not afford any tools to resurface the metal seat, so what I did was drop a free floating tap washer onto the seat, and then reassembled the tap. Presto bingo the drip stopped. The additional washer is NOT being rotated but is simply being compressed downward by the above rotating washer. This provides only downward pressure against the seat and thus the free floating tap washer fills in the eroded areas by shaping itself to the uneven surface. This add-in tap washer is 1 size larger in diameter than the one which is mounted as part of the tap. Anyhow, all 4 taps have been working perfectly for quite some time now.

  • D. Woodard Says:
    November 3rd, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I wish you had a video….or at least pictures….to walk me thru.

  • Diane Paquette Says:
    January 10th, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I have a two handle bathromm sink faucets that leaks and my question is,
    1) do we cut off the water supply under the sink before unscrewing the top of the handle
    2) All I found in your wonderful guide, is concerning a bathtub single faucet.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • E. Imoloamen Says:
    April 21st, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Instructions were very well understood and to the point. However drawings or pictures may have even done it more.


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How to Repair a Leaking Single Handle Bathtub Faucet