How to Remove and Replace a Bathtub Spout

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

A fairly common home problem is a bathtub spout that stops working correctly. Either it begins to leak around the base of the spout, where it enters the wall, or the diverter valve used to direct water up to a showerhead stops working correctly. A leaking spout is more serious than you might think. It's usually caused because the spout threads have corroded, and even a slight dripping leak has the potential for wasting as much as 200 gallons of water each month, according to HomeAdvisor. And a leak inside the wall can lead to very serious damage. A bad shower diverter, on the other hand, is more of an annoyance when water is no longer is fully channeled up to the shower head and instead continues to dribble out of the spout.

In either case, the solution is to remove and replace the spout. Sometimes a spout is replaced simply for cosmetic reasons, such as when you are replacing the bathtub faucet set and want the tub spout to match the new faucet. 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. How you perform the replacement, though, depends on what type of tub spout you have and how it is attached.

Determine the Type of Spout

Typically, tub spouts use either a slip-on or threaded design. A slip-on spout fits over the top of the water stub-out pipe and is secured to the stub-out pipe with a set-screw. On threaded models, the end of the spout uses a female-threaded fitting that screws over a male threaded fitting on the end of the water stub-out pipe. To determine what kind of spout you have, 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.

First, removed the cover cap, if it is present, while the spout is still attached to the wall stub-out pipe. This cap will be located on the underside of the the spout. If you spot a small screw beneath the cap, you have a slip-on spout. If there is no set-screw or no cap at all, then you have a threaded spout.

Replacing a Slip-On Spout

This one really is as simple as it sounds—a matter of slipping off an old spout and slipping on a new one. 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)
  • New spout
  • Tubing cutter (if necessary)
  • Steel wool or emery cloth

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 water supply shut-off valve.

  1. Carefully scrape away the caulking where the fixture meets the wall, using a putty knife or razor blade
  2. Place a washrag or towel over the drain opening in the tub. This will prevent the set-screw from getting lost down the drain.
  3. Remove the set-screw by turning it in counter-clockwise. Most set-screws have hex heads that require an Allen wrench, but there are some that are Phillips-head screws.
  4. Take hold of the spout with both hands and pull it straight out. It should come off pretty easily, but if it's been there a long time and is corroded in place, you may have to twist the spout slightly as you pull.
  5. Check the manufacturer's instructions on the new spout to determine how long the stub-out pipe 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 a tubing cutter to shorten the stub-out pipe slightly.
  6. With steel wool, clean the stub-out pipe until it is shiny. Check the inside of the pipe for burrs or rough spots, especially if you have just cut it. You can smooth the pipe using the reaming tool on the tubing cutter, the blade of the screwdriver, or even a piece of steel wool or emery cloth wrapped around your finger
  1. Slide the new spout onto the pipe until the base meets the wall.
  2. Insert and tighten the set-screw by turning clockwise.
  3. Apply silicone caulk to the seam where wall and spout meet.
  4. Turn on the faucet and test the operation of the spout.

Replacing a Threaded Spout

Before you start this project, you'll need to take a measurement to match the new spout to the old. Examine the old spout and the stub-out pipe after you remove the spout. If you have a spout that threads near the front of the spout body, measure from the wall to the end of the stub-out pipe. For spout that threads near the wall-end, measure the threaded nipple on the stub-out—it should be no longer than 1/2 inch. If your spout is a telescoping one, the stub-out pipe should be a maximum of 1 3/8 inches in length. With this measurement in hand, you're ready to buy your new spout.

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

Before you begin, be sure to turn off the water at the tub/shower shut-off valve or at the main water-supply shut-off valve.

  1. Remove the old caulking with a putty knife or razor blade.
  2. Place the pipe wrench over the spout and tighten it so it grips the fixture. Turn the wrench 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.
  3. Clean off the threads on the end of the stub-out.
  4. Add four or five wraps of thread-sealing tape to the threaded stub-out, making sure to wrap it in a clockwise direction around the threads.
  5. 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 wall.
  6. Thread the new spout onto the pipe slowly, using the pipe wrench. To avoid scratching the finish, protect the spout by wrapping a rag around it before attaching the wrench. Tighten the spout so that the opening is aligned straight up and down.
  7. Wipe away any excess caulk from the seam where the spout meets the wall.

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