How to Remove and Replace a Tub Spout

Close up modern stainless steel bathtub faucet
Hoxton/Martin Barraud / Getty Images

You may have noticed that your tub spout, also sometimes called a tub faucet, isn’t working the way it did when it was new. There are a few possible reasons.

If water isn’t getting up to the shower head, your tub spout's diverter valve may have worn out. If there’s a leak in the wall, the spout threads have corroded enough to cause the leaks. According to HomeAdvisor, one drip per second can equal 200 gallons of water per month!

Hopefully, you’re just giving your bathroom a simple upgrade with new hardware. Either way, removing and replacing a tub spout is a simple project that even novice DIYer can handle. It only takes a few minutes, and it doesn't even require special tools.

Determine the Type of Fixture That You Have

Your tub spout may be slip-on or threaded. Both are simple to replace, but you need to figure out which kind you have before you head to the home improvement store. For this step, the only tool you'll need is a flashlight; if your spout has a decorative cover, you'll also need a screwdriver to pop that cover off.

Once you've removed the cover, look at the underside of the fixture while it is still attached to the pipe. If there is a small screw there, you have a slip-on spout; if there is no set-screw, you have a threaded spout.

Remove a Slip-On Spout

This one really is as simple as it sounds. You will need:

  • Putty knife or razor
  • Washrag or towel
  • Hex wrench or screwdriver (Check the set-screw on the fixture to see which you'll need.)

Now you're ready to remove the old spout. Before you begin, be sure to turn off the water at the tub/shower shut-off valve or the main.

  1. Carefully scrape away the caulking where the fixture meets the wall, using the putty knife or razor.
  1. Place the washrag or towel over the drain opening in the tub. This will prevent the set-screw from getting lost down the drain.
  2. Remove the set-screw. Most are hex, or Allen, screws, but there are some that use a Phillips screw.
  3. Take hold of the spout with both hands and pull it straight out; it should come off pretty easily. If it's been there for a long time or if there is a lot of corrosion, you may have to twist it slightly as you pull.

Replace a Slip-On Spout

Now that you've taken care of the old spout, it's time to install the new one. You'll need:

  • Tube cutters (if the existing pipe is longer than the manufacturer's recommendation)
  • Steel wool or emery cloth
  • Hex wrench or screwdriver

Here's how to replace your spout:

  1. Check the manufacturer's instructions to determine how long the pipe that you are attaching the faucet to needs to be. Most fixtures require 1 inch to 2-7/8 inches, depending on the design. If the existing pipe is too short, you can use an adapter to connect the spout; if it is too long, use tube cutters to shorten it slightly.
  2. With the steel wool, clean the pipe until it is shiny. Check the inside of the pipe for burrs or rough spots, especially if you cut it; you can use the tool on the tube cutter, the blade of the screwdriver, or even a piece of steel wool or emery cloth wrapped around your finger (A burr is an uneven layer of pipe material pushed in when you cut it. Burrs and rough areas prevent a solid seal and may lead to leaks).
  1. Slide the new spout onto the pipe until it meets the wall.
  2. Replace and tighten the set-screw.
  3. Apply silicone caulk where wall and spout meet to prevent leaks.

Remove a Threaded Spout

Before you start this project, you'll need to take a measurement to match the new spout to the old. If you have a front-end spout, measure from the wall to the end of the pipe nipple. For a rear-, or wall-end, measure the threaded nipple; it should be no longer than 1/2 inch. If your fixture is a telescoping one, the nipple should be a maximum of 1-3/8 inches in length. With this measurement in hand, you're ready to find your new spout.

To remove this type of spout, you'll need:

  • putty knife or razor
  • pipe wrench

Here's how:

  1. Remove the old caulking with the putty knife.
  2. Place the pipe wrench over the spout and tighten it enough for it to grip the fixture. Turn it counterclockwise to remove the spout. You may also be able to accomplish this by placing the blade of a long screwdriver into the spout opening and using it for leverage to unscrew the threaded fixture.

    Replace a Threaded Spout

    That's all there is to removing the old spout. Now, you're ready to replace it. You'll need:

    • PTFE thread sealing tape
    • Pipe wrench
    • Silicone caulk

    Here's how:

    1. Add four or five wraps of thread tape to the nipple.
    2. Apply silicone caulk around the area where the spout and the wall meet. This will help ensure that water doesn't drip behind the spout and damage the interior of the walls.
    3. Thread the new spout onto the pipe slowly. Tighten it and align it with the rest of the fixtures.

    Congratulations! Your new tub spout is ready for your next bath or shower.