bathtub parts and wrench

Bathtub Parts You Should Know & How to Replace Them

Bathtub parts wear out and corrode and most people in this situation call a plumber. But since experts say the average cost of hiring a plumber to fix a common bathroom part like a faucet is around $250 nationwide, it makes sense to go to a hardware store and buy some of the most common bathtub parts yourself and attempt to change them.

After all, not only will you feel empowered, and after the replacement, start looking around for other household things to replace, but even if you fail initially, the worst result you can expect is that you have to call a plumber anyway. 

So what are the common parts to stock up on, and how to replace them?

Replacing Handles

Your bathtub may be equipped with both a hot and cold handle to turn the water on, or in some cases, there may be a single handle that handles both.

Step 1: Acquire the Tools

Go to a hardware store and buy a complete replacement handle kit. Depending on the handle, the total cost may be as cheap as $9 to $20. These normally are pointed knives to remove the cap from the handle. A Phillips head screwdriver. It’s optional to get a can of WD-40 if underlying screws are very tight. 

Step 2: Replacing the Handle

To replace, first pry off the cap to expose the screws. Next, remove the screws and pull the handle off. Sometimes if the screws are tight you need a squirt of WD-40. After that, remove the screws that hold the faceplate together, then pull the casing toward you and it should slide off.

Replace the existing casing from the kit, then install the handle and pop the cap back on and you’re done.

Replacing a Bathtub Spout

This is one of the simplest jobs in your bathroom to replace, and replacement may be indeed necessary if your bathtub spout is corroded from inside.

Step 1: Acquire the Tools

Have the right tools. Bathtub spouts come in two different types, a screw-in spout at the bottom of the spout, or a general screw-in spout.

Step 2: Remove the Old Spout

Feel underneath the spout and see if there is a recessed screw holding the spout in place. If so, you will need an appropriate hex screw (sometimes called an Allen wrench) to remove the screw and then simply slide the spout off.

If there is no screw, then you will need to unscrew the old faucet counter-clockwise. Sometimes you can simply unscrew the old faucet by hand. But if it is too tight, then use a long, hefty screwdriver and insert it into the faucet for leverage, and then unscrew the faucet.

Step 3: Measure & Attach the New Spout

Measure the length of pipe coming out of the wall. You’ll need to measure the amount of pipe coming out of the wall to ensure you get the right replacement.

While you can buy online, it’s better to go to a local hardware store, bringing the old faucet to make sure it is a near duplicate of your old faucet. 

Once you’ve obtained the new faucet then screw it in. Those with hex-type screws are the easiest, but screw-on faucets are also a snap. However, if you have a screw-on faucet, first you’ll want to wrap some Teflon plumbers tape around the final 1/2 or so of the pipe. Then slip the new faucet on the pipe and tighten clockwise.

Step 4: Tighten the Fixture

Use a plumber’s set of vice grips to grab the faucet, first wrapping the ends of the vice grips with heavy masking tape so that as you screw the faucet on, you do not manage to scratch the finish of the faucet. Tighten with several turns of vice grips until the faucet is firmly tight.

Parts You Will Want to Have On Hand

Many essential bathtub parts are rubber seals and O-rings. It’s not that the old bathtub parts are no good, but the washers and O-rings that keep water from leaking everywhere wear out or disintegrate and need to be replaced.

Packing washers, seat washers, bonnet washers, gaskets, nuts, and screws are all essentials for making your bathtub as it should be, and as you replace any part of the tub, consider buying extras at the hardware store to have at the ready for any additional bathtub concerns.