6 Easy Steps to Eliminate Bathtub Drain Leaking

By Mengning Heil

March 4, 2022

Leak Investigation and Pipe Repair

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to part two of our Leak Inspection and Repair Blog Series that explores bathtub leaking causes and solutions. This article focuses on repair tips for bathtub drain leaking.

Your bathroom is full of plumbing fixtures that could result in leaks due to deteriorating parts, inattentive maintenance, or improper use. In particular, the bathtub is often responsible for any leaks that may spring up, which can go unnoticed until they’ve caused serious water damage. That’s why it’s important to screen for signs of bathtub leaking and identify the cause. If you find the problem is coming from your bathtub drain, it can often be fixed by learning how to reseal the tub drain.

There are two places water typically drains from the tub and can leak: the overflow drain (located on the wall of the tub), or the waste drain (located on the floor of the tub.) This article addresses the waste drain. It provides insights on why it could be leaking and includes a step-by-step guide on how to reseal it. 

Why Is My Bathtub Drain Leaking?

The first step to addressing a faulty waste drain is to understand why it could be leaking, which is most frequently caused by a poorly sealed drain. If the plumber’s putty surrounding your drain is worn out or cracked, the seal will become compromised and eventually leak. 

Another common reason you may need to reseal your tub drain involves the material of your bathtub. Fiberglass tubs often bend and flex when people get in and out of the tub, which can result in a defective seal. Over time, the seal around the drain can weaken. If you own a fiberglass bathtub, you may therefore find it necessary to reseal the drain every couple of years to avoid possible leaks.

Preparing to Reseal Tub Drain

Once you’ve identified why your bathtub drain is leaking, it’s important to repair the drain as soon as possible to avoid costly water damage in your home. Thankfully, resealing your tub drain is a quick and easy plumbing project that anyone can do at home. 

Here’s a list of materials you’ll need for this project:

  • Channel locks or specialty tub drain wrench
  • Crescent wrench
  • Wire brush
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Vacuum
  • Teflon tape
  • Plumber’s putty
Man using specialty drain wrench to fix bathtub drain leaking.
You can use an affordable specialty tub drain wrench and a crescent wrench to easily remove the waste drain.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Reseal Your Tub Drain

Now that you have the materials, you’re ready to get started. Below is our six-step guide to easily reseal a waste drain.

1 – Remove waste drain. 

  • Use channel locks or a specialty tub drain wrench. Insert into the drain, then attach a crescent wrench to the drain wrench. Turn counter-clockwise to remove.

2 – Clean waste drain.

  • Clean any dried or old plumber’s putty from the drain. Optionally, you can use a wire brush to help remove the putty.
  • Remove additional putty from the tub drain hole. Carefully use a flathead screwdriver to scrape away the old plumber’s putty. If it’s old and cracked, it should come off easily. 
  • Use a vacuum to remove all broken pieces of putty from the tub and drain.

3 – Remove, clean, and reinstall gasket.

  • Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the gasket. (The gasket is a black rubber ring that helps create a seal. It’s located between the bathtub and the drain.)
  • Clean the gasket, and inspect for any cracks. If it’s is in good condition, it may be reused. If any cracks are found, be sure to replace it with a new tub drain gasket. 
  • Work gasket back into place with your fingers, being careful not to drop it down the drain.
  • Fit the gasket down between the tub and the drainpipe, creating a seal.
  • It should be nicely seated between the pipe and the tub drain.

4 – Prep waste drain.

  • Optionally, you can apply Teflon tape to the drain. This will create an added layer of protection for a water-tight seal. Be sure it’s covering at least five of the threads that are farthest from the flat drain cover. 
  • Apply plumber’s putty around the circumference of the inside of the drain cover. Roll the putty, shaping it into an ⅛”–¼” snake and wrap around the threads at the base of the drain cover.

5 – Install waste drain. 

  • Insert and turn clockwise. Use the channel locks or specialty drain wrench to ensure it’s fully tightened.
  • You can expect the plumber’s putty to ooze out. This is a sign you have a good seal. Remove excess putty by wiping the drain with a paper towel.

6 – Wait for putty to dry.

  • Prior to showering or bathing, be sure the plumber’s putty has fully dried. Check your plumber’s putty container for the amount of time you should wait prior to using the tub. Typically at least 24–48 hours are needed until putty fully dries.

Look out for more articles from our Leak Inspection and Repair Blog Series, which overview:

If you’re in need of more thorough leak detection in Rockville or are looking for a reliable plumber in Rockville, MD or the surrounding areas, contact Heil Plumbing today.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services in the greater Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair in Montgomery County and the surrounding areas.