As a space-saving measure, the bathtub faucets in mobile homes and large RVs often use a single-body design in which the tub spout and hot- and cold-water handles are incorporated into a single unit. Mobile home tub faucets can be mounted either on the wall or to the side of the tub, as is often seen in older mobile homes. These tub faucets often have a diverter that can be pulled up to block the water in the spout and force it up into the showerhead, which connects to the faucet via a separate pipe behind the wall.
Mobile home tub faucets come in many types, but replacing one is fairly easy if you buy a new one that matches the hole configuration that is already present. There are tub faucets designed for holes 4 or 8 inches on-center—the measurement from the center of the hot water pipe to the center of the cold water pipe. The point where the tub spout extends out from the wall can be offset, or it can be in line with the hot and cold water supply pipes.
Before You Begin
Shut off the water before you begin. You will then need to get a good look at the valve stem to see what type of seats and washers or cartridge it uses, and plan to buy those at your local hardware or home improvement store to complete this project.
Equipment / Tools
- Handle puller (if needed)
- Channel-type pliers
- New tub faucet (if necessary)
- Plumber's putty
How to Repair a Leak in the Faucet
Remove the Handle
With the water off, remove the handle. Pry off the small cover that hides the handle screw, using a thin screwdriver or a similar tool. A handle puller may be required if the handle will not come off with a little wiggling.
Remove the Stem
Remove the locking nut that holds the stem in, using channel-type pliers. If there is no nut, then simply unscrew the stem from the faucet.
Obtain Replacement Parts
After removing the stem, take this part to your local hardware or home improvement store to get replacement parts. The parts you buy will vary, depending on the style and brand of faucet. It may be replacement washers or valve seats or an entire cartridge. Your clerk at the store will be able to advise you.
If this part proves too difficult to find, you may have to go to an RV supply store or order one online if you can find the name of the manufacturer.
Install the New Parts
Put the new cartridge or seals and washers back together in the same manner as the old ones were removed. Reinstall the locking nut and handle. Turn the water back on, and test the valve.
How to Replace the Faucet
Before deciding to replace the tub faucet, have a look at the entire project—it could well turn into something bigger than you expect.
Check to see what type of plumbing you are dealing with behind the tub. Do you have polybutylene (PB) pipe or PEX tubing? Can you make adjustments to the pipes easily, or are they so rigid that you’ll have to make adjustments to the water supply lines? Most tub faucet water lines have swivel nuts that make for quick and easy connections.
How many holes are in the tub or wall and how many inches apart are they? If you are lucky, you can simply remove the water lines and reattach them to the new tub faucet, but in some cases, adjustments will have to be made.
Remove the Old Faucet
With the water off, you should be able to disconnect the water supply tubes behind the tub faucet. Typically, swivel nuts or connectors are holding the supply tubes and shower riser onto the faucet body. Swivel nuts can usually be loosened by hand or by using pliers if they are too tight.
Disconnect the mounting nuts that hold the tub faucet onto the wall or tub. Then, pull the tub faucet off. Clean the wall surface behind it, giving you a blank slate on which to work.
Prepare the New Tub Faucet
Lay a bead of plumber’s putty around the tub faucet plate, then push the faucet into position against the wall. Thread the mounting nuts onto the faucet tailpieces, and make sure the faucet is level before tightening it down all the way.
Connect the Water Lines
If no changes were required, just tighten the water lines back onto the new tub faucet. If changes are required, you'll need a variety of connectors and flexible pipe to make the configuration work. Tighten the water lines by hand first, and then with pliers for a tighter fit.
Turn the Water On and Check for Leaks
Turn on the water and open up the valve. Check for any water leaks. Running the water for a few minutes to discharge air from the lines and allow a strong flow, making any leaks visible.