How to Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet Double Handle (DIY)

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Imagine the frustration of coming home after a long day, only to find that your bathtub faucet is leaking. The constant dripping sound is enough to drive anyone crazy. Not to mention the potential damage to your bathroom and the wasted water. Instead of calling a plumber, why not take matters into your own hands? Learning how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet double handle is a manageable DIY project that can save you time and money. By understanding the components and common causes of leaks, you’ll be well-equipped to diagnose the problem and plan the repair. Are you ready to tackle this issue head-on?

Key Takeaways

  • Understand double handle bathtub faucets and their components to identify potential leak sources.
  • Gather necessary tools, materials, and replacement parts for the repair.
  • Follow a step by step approach to disassemble/reassemble the faucet while replacing rubber washers, seats, and stems as needed. Test for leaks after reassembly.

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Are you tired of the constant drip, drip, drip from your faucet that seems to be driving up your water bill? If you're wondering how to fix a leaky faucet, you're in the right place. Fixing a leaky faucet is a common household repair that can save you money and prevent water wastage. With a few basic tools and some patience, you can have your faucet working like new in no time. Don't let that leak persist – let's get started on fixing it!

How to Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet Double Handle (DIY)

Understanding Double Handle Bathtub Faucets

Dealing with a leaky bathtub faucet requires a good grasp of its components and potential leak causes. Double handle faucets, though more complex than single-handle types, are not beyond your understanding. This guide will familiarize you with this plumbing fixture, helping you identify possible leak sources and plan your repair effectively.

One key aspect of double handle faucets is their components. These faucets typically have several parts that work together to control water flow and temperature. Let’s take a closer look at these components and how they can contribute to leaks.

Components of Double Handle Faucets

Double handle faucets consist of several components, including:

  • Handles: control the hot and cold water flow
  • Escutcheon plates: serve as decorative trim pieces that cover pipe openings
  • Faucet stems: control how much water flows through the tub spout or shower head, and monitor and adjust the temperature of the water
  • Rubber washers: help create a watertight seal
  • Faucet seats: provide a surface for the rubber washers to press against, ensuring a proper seal

These components work together to ensure the proper functioning of the faucet.

A critical component in preventing leaks is the rubber washer affixed to the back of the faucet stem assembly. This washer serves as a seal to prevent water from leaking out of the faucet. Over time, the rubber washer can wear down or become damaged, leading to leaks.

A comprehensive understanding of the double handle faucet’s components will arm you with the knowledge to diagnose and fix potential leaks.

Common Causes of Leaks

Now that we’ve covered the components of double handle faucets, let’s discuss the common causes of leaks. Most leaks in these faucets can be traced back to worn rubber washers, damaged faucet seats, or corroded faucet stems. The most frequent source of leaks is a damaged or heavily compressed rubber washer.

The typical leak causes in double handle faucets include:

  • Damaged or corroded faucet seat
  • Worn out O-rings
  • Loose or worn out valve stem packing
  • Faulty cartridge or valve assembly

Understanding these causes will enhance your ability to pinpoint the issue and strategize your repair.

Preparing for the Repair

A person gathering tools and materials needed to fix a leaky bathtub faucet

Before embarking on the repair process, gather all necessary tools and materials and disconnect the water supply to the bathtub faucet. Such preparation sets the stage for a seamless and successful repair, reducing the likelihood of additional damage or complications.

Tools and Materials Needed

To fix a leaky double-handle bathtub faucet, you’ll need a few essential tools and materials, including:

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Seat wrench
  • Replacement parts (such as faucet stems, rubber washers, and faucet seats)
  • Plumber’s grease

These tools will help you disassemble, repair, and reassemble your faucet with ease.

Replacement parts can be found at most hardware stores or through online retailers. Be sure to bring the existing parts with you to the store for reference, or use the model number of the faucet to locate the appropriate parts online.

Equipped with the appropriate tools and materials, you are now ready to address your leaky faucet repair.

Shutting Off Water Supply

Before you start the repair process, it’s crucial to shut off the water supply to the bathtub faucet to prevent water damage and ensure your safety. Locate the shutoff valves for the hot and cold water supply lines, typically found beneath the sink, and turn them counterclockwise to deactivate.

Once the water supply is disconnected, you can commence the faucet disassembly.

Disassembling the Double Handle Faucet

A person removing a faucet handle from a double handle faucet

To access the faucet stems and identify the cause of the leak, you’ll need to disassemble the double handle faucet. This process involves removing the faucet handles and detaching the escutcheon plates.

Rest assured, this guide will lead you through each step, simplifying the diagnosis and repair of your leaky faucet.

Removing Faucet Handles

Step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet double handle with an image of a person removing the faucet handle.

The first step in disassembling your faucet is to remove the handles. Here’s how:

  1. Start by prying off the handle inserts with a small flathead screwdriver or butter knife.
  2. Once the inserts are removed, unscrew the handle screws using a Phillips head screwdriver.
  3. Pull the handles straight out.

If you’re dealing with a lever-shaped single-handle faucet, you’ll need to remove the recessed Allen screw near the lever’s base using an Allen wrench set, then slide the handle off. For round plastic single-handle faucets, simply pry off the plastic cover with a flathead screwdriver and pull the handle off.

Removing the handles grants you access to the escutcheon plates.

Loose Bathroom Sink Faucet

If you're dealing with a loose bathroom sink faucet, it's essential to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage. A loose faucet can lead to water leaks, difficulty in controlling water temperature, and an overall unattractive appearance in your bathroom. To tackle this problem, you'll need to identify the source of the looseness, which is typically caused by worn-out O-rings, loose mounting nuts, or a faulty handle. To fix it, start by turning off the water supply to the faucet, disassembling the handle, and tightening any loose components. If the problem persists, consider replacing worn parts or seeking professional assistance. A secure and properly functioning bathroom sink faucet will not only enhance the aesthetics of your bathroom but also save you from potential water wastage and additional repair costs.

Detaching Escutcheon Plates

To detach the escutcheon plates, you may need to:

  1. Unscrew them
  2. Remove any set screws that are securing them
  3. The escutcheon may have a small set screw on the side, which needs to be removed with a Phillips head screwdriver

In certain cases, this step is necessary.

After detaching the escutcheon plates, you can access the escutcheon and stem assembly, and initiate the faucet repair process.

Repairing the Leaky Faucet

A person replacing a faucet stem in a double handle faucet

With the faucet disassembled, you can now focus on repairing the leaking faucet. This process involves replacing the faucet stems, rubber washers, and faucet seats if necessary.

Tackling dripping bathtub faucet leaks and their typical sources will set you on the path to fix a leaky bathtub, ensuring a fully functional, leak-free bathtub faucet.

Replacing Faucet Stems

Start by removing the damaged faucet stems. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Use a special bath socket wrench, which is similar to a spark plug wrench but larger.
  2. Slide the bath socket onto the stem bonnet.
  3. Rotate it counterclockwise to loosen the stem.
  4. If the stem is stuck, you may need to apply a penetrating lubricant to help loosen it.
  5. Once the stem is unscrewed and removed, you can install the new stem.

To install the new faucet stem, grip the wrench around the stem and rotate it clockwise until it is securely tightened. Having installed the new stem, you can proceed to replace the rubber and seat washers.

Replacing Rubber and Seat Washers

To replace the rubber and seat washers, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the old washers from the faucet stems using a pair of pliers. Discard them and clean the back of the assembly.
  2. Push the replacement rubber washer into the assembly, securing it in place with new screws or the old ones, if they’re still in good condition.
  3. Before installing the new washers, coat them with plumber’s grease. This will help prevent corrosion and ensure a watertight seal.

After installing the new washers, you can focus on inspecting and, if necessary, replacing the faucet seats.

Inspecting and Replacing Faucet Seats

To inspect the faucet seats, follow these steps:

  1. Use a flashlight and a seat wrench to check for any signs of damage or corrosion.
  2. If the faucet seats are damaged or corroded, they’ll need to be replaced.
  3. To remove the faulty seat, unscrew and remove it using the seat wrench.
  4. Secure the new faucet seat by screwing it in place firmly.

After replacing the faucet seats, it’s time to start reassembling the faucet.

Reassembling the Faucet

A person reattaching a faucet handle to a double handle faucet

Reassembling the faucet may seem daunting, but it’s just a matter of reversing the steps you took to disassemble it.

Reinstalling the escutcheon plates and reattaching the faucet handles brings you a step closer to a fully functional, leak-free bathtub faucet.

Reinstalling Escutcheon Plates

To reinstall the escutcheon plates, follow these steps:

  1. Slide the plates up the shower arm towards the wall of the shower enclosure.
  2. Press the plate firmly against the surface.
  3. Maintain the plate in position for a few moments to allow the caulk or sealant to adhere.
  4. If necessary, apply caulk or sealant to the back of the plate for a secure seal.

For flat escutcheons, cut the plate and remove it prior to fastening the new one. After reinstalling the escutcheon plates, you can proceed to reattach the faucet handles.

Reattaching Faucet Handles

To reattach the faucet handles, simply follow these steps:

  1. Slide the faucet handle onto the stem.
  2. Securely screw the faucet in using the faucet screw.
  3. Snap the cap cover into position.
  4. Ensure that the index buttons are firmly pressed back into position.

Once the handles are reattached, you can conduct a leak test on your faucet.

Testing for Leaks

A person turning on the water supply to test for leaks

The final step in the repair process is to test your faucet for leaks. By reconnecting the water supply and tweaking the handles as needed, you can verify the correct operation and leak-free status of your newly repaired faucet.

Turning On Water Supply

To turn on the water supply to the bathtub faucet, locate the shut-off valves for the hot and cold water lines underneath the sink. Rotate each valve counterclockwise to open the water supply.

After turning on the water, check the faucet’s operation and inspect for any leaks.

Adjusting Handles If Necessary

If needed, adjust the handles to ensure proper operation and check for any leaks around the faucet handles and spout.

Fine-tune as needed to ensure a leak-free faucet and relish the satisfaction of a self-accomplished repair.

Cost to Fix a Leaky Faucet

The cost to fix a leaky faucet can vary depending on several factors. In general, repairing a leaky faucet is a common household maintenance task that can be relatively affordable if addressed promptly. The cost to fix a leaky faucet primarily depends on the type of faucet, the extent of the damage, and whether you choose to hire a professional plumber or attempt a DIY repair. A simple fix, such as replacing a worn-out washer or O-ring, can cost as little as $20 to $50 for parts and a minimal amount for your time. However, if the issue is more complex, like replacing the faucet itself or dealing with significant water damage, the cost can increase significantly. It's important to address a leaky faucet promptly to avoid higher water bills and potential damage to your plumbing and home.


In conclusion, fixing a leaky double handle bathtub faucet is a manageable DIY project that can save you time, money, and frustration. By understanding the components and common causes of leaks, gathering the necessary tools and materials, and following a step-by-step process for disassembly, repair, and reassembly, you can successfully tackle this issue and restore your bathtub faucet to its proper function. So, the next time you encounter a leaky faucet, remember that you have the knowledge and skills to fix it yourself – and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a leaky faucet with two handles?

Shut off the water, remove the faucet handle, loosen the cartridge retaining nut, remove the old cartridge, buy a new one, install it, and complete the installation by reattaching the handle and adding plumbers' grease.

How do I stop my bathtub faucet from dripping?

To stop a dripping bathtub faucet, shut off the water supply, remove the faucet handle, assess the parts, replace the washer or stem, and check the faucet drain.

What is the most common cause of a leaky dripping two handle faucet?

The most common cause of a leaky dripping two-handle faucet is wear and tear leading to a worn out washer, gasket, or O-ring, or a damaged cartridge. These can usually be detected and fixed easily with a repair kit.

Why is my bathtub faucet leaking after I turn off the water?

It looks like the washers in your compression-style faucet are worn out, resulting in water leaking out after you turn it off.

What are the components of a double handle bathtub faucet?

A double handle bathtub faucet typically includes handles, escutcheon plates, faucet stems, rubber washers and faucet seats.

Ryan Copley

Ryan Copley

Having spent years participating in bathroom, kitchen, and home renovations, Ryan uses this experience to write informative blog posts on a wide variety of home renovation and kitchen topics.

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