In recent years, plumbing fixtures have adopted sleek, modern looks. Although traditional designs are still available, many manufacturers artfully design modern pieces. These new designs hide the mechanisms that may detract from the overall appearance of the faucet, like the set screw.
While the hidden screw allows for a seamless design, it can make the removal process rather tricky. So, if you’re wrestling with a bathtub faucet in an attempt to remove it, keep reading for a few tips on making that process a bit easier.
What Is A Bathtub Faucet?
Before we get started, let’s clarify what we’re talking about when referring to the bathtub faucet. Most of the time, people refer to the bathtub spout as the faucet. So, with that in mind, we’ll be talking about the spout, not the handle that turns the water on.
Whether you’re replacing the spout and handle altogether or trying to isolate the culprit of water flow issues, the process of removing the fixture is straightforward.
Where Is The Set Screw On A Bathtub Faucet?
Slip-on bathtub spouts are a common type of bathtub faucet. These spouts are held in place by a set screw, which is generally on the underside of the spout. It can require a bit of contortion and flexibility to bend under the spout (unless you lay in the bathtub).
If you’re not up to bending and twisting, use your fingers to look for the screw. Usually, it is in the middle of the underside of the bathtub faucet. You’ll find it where the spout meets the bathtub wall.
Do All Bathtub Faucets Have A Set Screw?
There are a few different types of bathtub faucets, but we’ll focus on the two main types: slip-on spouts and screw-on spouts. As the name implies, slip-on spouts simply slide into place. A set screw holds the spout in position.
On the other hand, screw-on spouts attach by twisting into place. The spout threads onto the pipe fitting, which holds it in place. So, no, not all bathtub faucets have a set screw.
It’s essential to determine which bathtub spout you have before tackling the project. If you try to use a pipe wrench to remove a slip-on spout, you may damage the fixture and the plumbing itself.
How To Remove A Screwless Bathtub Faucet
Removing a screw-on (screwless) bathtub faucet is pretty straightforward. Before you get started, remember to shut off the water to the tub. With nearly any plumbing project, it doesn’t hurt to be on the safe side.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Soft cloth
- Pipe wrench or adjustable wrench
Check For A Screw
Yes, we know this step seems out of place. However, it’s better to double-check for a set screw rather than using excessive force trying to twist the faucet, only to find out it has a screw. In addition, you could wreck the plumbing for the spout, so it’s best to be extra sure.
Feel around on the underside of the spout, checking for a small hole that could indicate the presence of a screw. If you find one, simply use a screwdriver to remove the screw, then remove the spout.
The screw is in an awkward spot, so you may find it easier to lay on your back in the tub to look for the screw. Make sure you don’t use the handle to pull yourself up, though, as you might be treated to a surprise bath if there’s excess water in the lines.
Remove The Spout
Now that you’ve verified (and double-checked) that there indeed isn’t a set screw, you can proceed with the removal process. Take a soft cloth and wrap it around the spout. This will protect the finish on the fixture while you remove it.
If you’re not saving the spout and plan on replacing the whole thing, you don’t necessarily need to use a cloth. It’s up to you.
Next, position the pipe wrench on the middle of the spout, with the handle pointing to the left. Depending on how the plumbing is situated, the spout may screw onto the plumbing fitting near the front of the spout or near the wall. By positioning the wrench in the middle of the spout, you ensure the pressure is distributed evenly.
Turn the pipe wrench counterclockwise, loosening the bathtub spout. Once the spout is loose enough, you can remove the wrench. Finish unthreading the spout by hand, then pull it away from the wall.
Before replacing the spout, scrape away the old caulk around where the spout meets the tub wall. Then, once you reinstall the spout, you can apply a new layer of caulk without the old layer getting in the way or compromising the seal.
If you plan on using the same spout, simply retrace your steps. Start by hand tightening the fixture, then make sure it’s snugly into place by tightening with the pipe wrench.
How To Remove A Corroded Tub Spout
If you have an older bathtub spout, you may have to use a pair of pliers to break the bond of corrosion. Alternatively, vinegar can help tackle rust and corrosion. If you decide to use a pair of pliers, avoid ripping the spout away with force. This can damage the spout, tub, and plumbing, which creates extra problems for you (unless you’re remodeling and throwing everything away).