Bathtub Blues? How to fix a leaking bathtub

Bathroom design

Sometimes, catching a water leak can turn into a classic case of “whodunnit”. While it may not be the usual suspect, the bathtub overflow drain can be the cause of many bathroom leaks. If you think this might be the case, check for a water stain in the ceiling below a bathroom- a tell tale sign of a leaking tub above. While it may seem like ripping a hole the ceiling is the only way to make a fix, it’s often possible to resolve the problem from above.

Use the following steps to figure out the exact source of your leak, and (most importantly) what will be the easiest fix.

Let it flow.

Run water from the faucet into the tub, and check if any water is leaking directly behind the spout. Remember, even a small trickle of water can get between walls and under the floor and cause damage. If the spout areal remains dry, switch water flow to the showerhead and look for leaks where the shower head attaches to the wall.

If you are seeing leaks in either (or both) of these areas, it’s likely that you’ll need to replace the leaking fixture.

Bathtub maintenance

Hardware Check-Up.

A tub overflow drain has a gasket behind it that will get brittle and compressed over time. If the gasket is old and cracked, the water going into the overflow drain can leak to the surrounding area.

To check the overflow gasket, remove the screws holing the plate in place. You may need to cut away caulking from around the overflow plate before it will come off. Once the plate is removed, you’ll be able to inspect the gasket. If the gasket looks worn, it’s a good idea to replace it. A new gasket should be cheap to purchase and easy to install. Once you do, run water in the tub again and check to see if the leaking has stopped.

hair clogged drain

Drip Detective.

If both the spots and the gasket are in good condition or if replacing the gasket do not seem to stop the leak, try these other tips:

  • Make sure the gasket is installed correctly and that it sits in the center of the tub overflow drain.
  • Inspect the edge of the overflow plate for nicks or corrosion that can allow water to seep in behind it.
  • Check that the overflow plate is screwed tightly into place and that the notch in the plate is facing down.
  • Check the seal around other shower parts and re-apply caulking as needed to ensure water can’t get behind the shower surround.

We hope these tips help you get your bathtub in tip-top shape and that your Wally sensor helps catch future leaks before they turn into bigger problems!