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How to Perform a Bathtub Drain Repair for Under $20

One of the worst feelings you can get as a homeowner is when you see a watermark on the ceiling below a bathroom.

The next thought that crosses my mind is how much this little water issue will cost.

This exact problem has happened to me numerous times at my own house as well as at my rentals.

The latest issue I encountered dealt with a bathtub leak into my rental’s dining room.

Fortunately the dining room has a dropped ceiling (classy, right!) and the panels aren’t hard to replace.

But I wanted to solve this leak problem ASAP and this tutorial deals with that process.

Drop Ceiling Bathtub Leak

Here are the supplies you need


How to Inspect for Leaks

The first action I took was to remove the access panel to the bathtub waste and overflow pipes.

Then I checked for leaks. Possible leak locations are

  1. The showerhead and shower arm connection
  2. Shower arm and shower pipe connection
  3. Leaks getting behind the shower escutcheon plate that covers the shower faucet handle
  4. The faucet body behind the faucet handle
  5. Shutoff valves (if you have any to the shower or bathtub)
  6. Bathtub overflow gaskets or washers (usually accessible in the access panel)
  7. Overflow pipe & cover plate, drain T, drain tailpiece, waster drain tube connections
  8. Drain flange, gasket, and shoe tube in the bathtub
  9. P-Trap and branch drain connections
  10. Hot & Cold supply line water connections

By the way, if you want to install shutoff valves it’s really easy to do with SharkBites.

I ran the water and determined the leak wasn’t coming from any of the shower faucet connections or from water splashing behind the escutcheon plate.

Also, there were no leaks from the cold and hot water lines.

The next step was to fill up the bathtub just below the overflow cover plate.

Since my tenant takes baths and said the leak is slow I decided to see what would happen once the tub was full of water.

Remarkably no leak occurred when the tub was filled.

BUT when the water drained that’s when a slow trickle formed from underneath the shoe tube connection.

This leak was coming from the drain flange/gasket/shoe tube connection.

How to Get to the Drain Leak

I removed the strainer screen and looked at the drain flange.

Bathtub overflow and strainer basket

Use a screwdriver to remove the bathtub strainer screen and drain cover plate.

Bathtub strainer screen

Removed bathtub strainer screen


Then remove the drain using a special wrench that attaches to the drain arms.

Drain wrench

You can also use a pair of channel locks to remove the drain flange by inserting the handles down into the strainer basket.

But I prefer the strainer wrench because it’s sturdier.

Once the strainer wrench is down in the drain you can use either a screwdriver (inserted through the wrench holes) or channel locks to loosen the drain flange.

Simply turn the drain wrench counterclockwise.

Drain wrench inserted into drain basket

Channel locks to turn drain wrench

What if your strainer arms are broken?

If that’s the case using either a tub drain extractor tool for 1.5″ drains or a drain key tool. We got a lot of questions about this problem down in the comments. So these tools are the solution.

Once the drain flange/strainer basket was removed, I turned it over to discover the plumber’s putty was missing in one section.

Drain flange missing plumber's putty


How to Fix a Bathtub Drain Leak

Fortunately, I always have plumber’s putty in my toolbox (it’s amazing how often you need this stuff!).

You can get this product at any hardware store or on Amazon.

Sorry for the bright picture below.

Plumber's Putty for Bathtub

The actual leak was occurring in between the gasket that sits on top of the bathtub shoe tube and the bathtub drain hole.

The gasket can be seen in the picture below as a black ring.

And the bathtub shoe tube is the threaded section directly below the black gasket.

Bathtub Shoe tube & Bathtub Shoe Tube Gasket

The leak occurred because the bathtub can flex when someone is standing on it or when excessive water weight exerts downward pressure repeatedly over time.

So the gasket seal can fail do to normal expansion and contraction forces.

I placed a generous bead of plumbers putty on the drain flange such that the putty sealed the entire black gasket.

Plumbers Putty on Bathtub Drain Flange

The next step I took was to clean off the old plumber’s putty on the bathtub itself as well as any left within the bathtub shoe tube.

Cleaning off plumbers putty in bathtub

Now that everything was clean I inserted the drain flange back into the threaded bathtub shoe tube and tightened it with the drain wrench.

When you do this the plumber’s putty with be squeezed around the bathtub shoe tube gasket and create a flexible water-tight seal.

I made sure to clean off the plumber’s putty that oozed out from the drain flange.

Plumbers putty oozing from bathtub drain flange

At this point, I put the bathtub strainer screen back onto the drain flange and filled the bathtub until the water level reached the bottom of the overflow cover plate.

No leak!!

I then let all the water drain to see if the downward pressure would cause the leak and again I didn’t see any water coming from underneath the bathtub shoe tube.

The sweet smell of success or in this case plumber’s putty.


What’s Next

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.



Bathtub Drain Repair

  1. Jeremy says:

    Plummers Putty, who knew. I will need to pick some up on my next trip to HD. Never know when I’ll need it.

    1. Jeff says:

      LOL, you could be like MacGyver and always have some just in case! Hope you had a good weekend.

  2. michael wargo says:

    Drains With Trip Levers?

    I need to replace my pop up drain because of the appearance,

    Question: Can I do it from the tub ?

    I would need to cut a hole in the wall to get at the pipes.

    Your photo shows it from the the tub.

    1. Thanks Michael for the question.

      You don’t need to access the pipes unless the water isn’t draining correctly.

      It sounds like you just want to replace the pop-up and there is a lever on the overflow cover plate.

      Purchase a similar kit at the store, undo the two screws holding the overflow cover plate, pull out the mechanicals, and put in the new one.

      If your tub is older it may be difficult to replace the pop-up without breaking the tub. Give it a shot using the tool in my tutorial but call in a plumber if you feel the tub might succumb to your superhuman strength.

  3. John King says:

    Great info. Here it is Christmas Eve and all I can think of is “I wonder if I’d be able to replace the tub/shower surround in our second floor condo without having to cut into the first floor owner’s ceiling to access the drain?” And a Merry Christmas was had by all! Happy Holidays and thanks for the info.

    1. I hope your project goes well and you don’t have to ask the neighbor for permission to cut his ceiling out-LOL.

      I’d love to see pics of the new shower John. If you’re posting them on Facebook or Google Plus let me know.

      Hope you had a great Holiday.

  4. Hello Jeff: I wish to thank you for your help with leak under the ceiling in family room. I suspected there is a leak (due to slight discoloration in the painted popcorn ceiling) and I was about to cut the sheet rock about 1ft X 1ft to find the source of the leak. After reading your helpful hints, I suspected the leak is directly below my upstairs bathroom tub and decided to proceed with drain repair ( i.e. plumbers putty to the flange) I wish to ask you a question, what do they call the “tool” to unscrew the flange and what kind of solvent you use to clean your hands and to clean the old putty still stuck in the threaded area of the flange. Thanks for your help. Regards.

    1. Hi Raj, the tool is a bathtub drain remover tool and you can use a hair dryer to heat up then remove the old putty. I like to use a hand cleaner with pumice in it to clean my hands. Something like Gojo will work great. Hope this helps.

  5. Peggy P Mills says:

    Thank you, the instructions are supremely simple for even me, a non-wanna be plumber

    1. Hi Peggy,

      Glad I could help ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Hope your tub is good to go!!


  6. Ashley C.Williams says:

    Good afternoon Sir. First off, after living in a house that did not have plumbing access panels until I recently cut them- my personal thoughts are that they should be code, only my opinion. I am not a plumber by any means. I have a leak and cut an access, noticed after running the shower for a few minutes that it is dripping from the “drain shoe” area. I have not opened the drain yet, my question is this. After I remove all the pieces of the drain assembly, doesn’t it make sense to go ahead and replace the gasket between the bottom of the tub and the tub shoe?? Is there anything unexpected I should anticipate. IE… A different inner/outer diameter ring size, or what to use to adhere the outer gasket to the lower portion of the tub. I am sure by my elementary questions you can realize I have never so much as replaced a faucet, but with the info you provided- should be pretty easy. Hope to hear back soon.

    Knoxville Tn.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Thanks so much for your question, and by no means am I the Wizard of Oz of plumbing-LOL. Thus, sometimes I have answers and sometime not. Is your tub fairly new? If so, you may not need to replace the tub shoe gasket but if your tub is way old (like 20 plus years) then a new shoe night be necessary.

      Can you tell if the gasket is corroded or crumbling?

  7. Jack Riggs says:

    Im trying to replace my bathtub strainer to replace it due to corroded stopper. The ” fingers” underneath stopper are plastic and broke off making it impossible to use a strainer wrench to remove the old insert to replace it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hey Jack, send me some pictures of your problem to [email protected]. That way I can give you better advice. Strainers can be a pain in the you know what!!

  8. Dani says:

    Thank you for this. This is the first tutorial I’ve seen where someone didn’t assume I already knew where the gasket goes, how it should look un-assembled etc. Very helpful!!!

    1. You’re welcome Dani. I’m happy it was helpful. Let me know of you’ve got any questions ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Mohd. Ali says:


    Thanks in advance first.

    I am facing a problem in my Plastic Bath tub, I live in second floor, my plastic bath tub is uneven near to drain flange which causing the leak when full water pressure, I call the plumber, they told me need to replaced the tub, but I don’t think need to replaced tub, may be some solution available, if you can provide me with your expertise idea, how to fix my bath tub.

    1. Hi Ali, it sounds like you have a similar problem. Correct me if I’m wrong – when you fill up the tub with water it leaks down to the first floor. If this is the case you can give the repair in this post a shot.

      The issue with acrylic or plastic tubs is that they flex way too much. The expansion and contraction eventually makes the seal between the tub shoe and bottom of the tub get undone. Follow the directions in my tutorial and apply a generous amount of plumber’s putty. A bead of putty about 1/2 inch thick will do you good and anything that smushes out can be removed so that it doesn’t clog your tub drain.

      Let me know what you think. Does this help?

  10. Greg T says:

    Having the same issue as Jack Riggs (from October, for him). Seems like every time I go to replace one of these, the “fingers” are so corroded they are already broken or break in the process of removal. I don’t see your answer to his question. How can the strainer be removed, if there are no “fingers” to exert turning force on? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Greg for asking. One of the best tools for removing the strainer is Drain Key Tool by Superior Tool.

      Here’s an Amazon link
      This tool expands inside the drain and doesn’t require the cross hairs.
      Hope it helps.

  11. Greg T says:

    FWIW, I found a solution, at least for this particular situation (strainer “fingers” corroded and broken off, so strainer wrench useless): Even though the strainer lip is tiny and lays very flush against the tub floor, I managed to get a vise grip holding on to it fairly securely, w/ the handles sticking up away from the floor. Couldn’t turn it, so I heated the existing plumber’s putty w/ a hair dryer, and grabbed the vise grip w/ a water pump pliers. Bazinga! It actually began to turn, and eventually I got the old assembly out. The rest went as usual installation “should” go.

    1. Whoa Greg, that’s awesome. Good use of the hair dryer to heat up the plumber’s putty.

      Sorry I didn’t get back to sooner. If the fingers in the strainer are broken you can use a special tool.

      It’s called a Tub Drain Extractor. I bought one at Lowe’s and wanna say it’s $20-$30.

      The extractor looks like a plug. You tap it down into the drain and the teeth on it make it grab the old strainer.

      Then you can use a 1/2 inch ratchet drive to turn the extractor counterclockwise.

      The funny thing about this little tool is that every single package at Lowe’s was opened and resealed. LOL.
      This indicates that people buy them then immediately return them after they’re done with their project.

      Let me know if you have any more questions but it sounds like you’ve got it under control ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Vin Cenzo says:

    My tub started to leak slowly,
    Luckily I don’t have a ceiling in the basement laundry room
    so I could spot the leak easily.
    Thanks for explaining the cause and the solution ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Glad to help. If you run into any issues always feel free to ask your question. I may not have all the answers but will try my best ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. D. C. Summerville says:

    Hi Jeff, Thank you for your informative and helpful website. My situation is that I have a leak in a plastic tub / shower combination.
    There is no leak when someone is taking a shower, it leaks only when a body is taking a bath. As such I have concluded the culprit is the overflow.
    The house was built 20 years ago and the overflow is not round but a square shape and has “Sterling” imprinted on the front. I removed the screw from the top center of the front of the overflow and that allowed me to remove the metal cover. Now I can see the round hole where the water flows out, however, there is still the metal frame of the overflow surrounding the round opening. This metal frame has positions for two screws, one on the left side and one across from it on the right. The right side has no screw and the rusty nasty screw on the left side broke when I tried to remove it with a screwdriver. When I say it broke I mean that the metal on one side of the slot on the screw head just disintegrated and now my screwdriver is useless.
    So, as I look at the overflow opening there is this metal frame surrounding it, the wall of the tub and then it appears black plastic. I see no gasket. I see a fair amount of a light brown colored material that is here and there around the opening which flakes off if you touch it. I don’t know if it is the remnants of a gasket or if it is old plumber’s putty or what.
    Well, I don’t know what to do next and I won’t hold it against you if you don’t either. Maybe I’ll just hang an “Out of Order” sign on it. =-)
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks, DCS. .

    1. Thanks DCS for your question. It sounds like the gasket was there 20 years ago but broke down over time.

      I’ll tell you what, send me a few pictures of your situation and I’ll try to help you the best I can.

      That “Out of Order” sign would be pretty funny, especially if house guests visited. I’d love to see their expressions.

      Send your pis to [email protected] ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. JC Patel says:

    Thank you very much for detailed description with photos. Excellent job. I was able to repair my leak.

    1. Awesome JC, I’m super happy that you were able to do it yourself and save some money. Great job ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Donna says:

    i was wondering what causes the water to drain under the tub instead of down the pipe…i have hard wood floors and it caused buckling of the wood due to water getting between cement slab and flooring…have gotten so many opinions that it has me so confused all ending with them wanting me to pull up all the flooring…all the other appliances drain just fine…so please if this could be the problem in your opinion please please let me know…i don’t think it is as issue with clogged pipes or anything else but the tub…i am by no means a plumber but it seems to me to be something with the pipes to the tub

    1. Donna, I feel your frustration. So sorry to hear about your floors buckling.

      Has your tub ever backed up before or needed to be unclogged?

      1. Donna says:

        not since they remodeled the house…i just can’t figure out why it just comes from the tub and nothing else…one opinion was to tear up all the floors to look for a drain in the slab, another was to tear up the bathroom floor and bust the concrete slab because the pipe collapsed, to another saying that it was stopped up….but they all go into the same pipe leaving the house!! i don’t know what to do lol if i listen to all i won’t have any floors for a while!!

        1. If you haven’t already done so you might want to snake the tub drain and see if there’s a clog deep down in the pipe. Also, if you have an access panel you should inspect the pipes for any leaks.

          Do you have a panel?

  16. Donna says:

    well we didn’t but now we have cut one out in the closet…i think that they did snake out the drain and didn’t find a clog…but we will do that again…i was thinking of taking the tub out because it is hard to see where exactly the water is coming from…no one sees from the panel just where it is coming from…i am thinking that maybe a pipe came undone and it is causing the water to just run under the tub i am also going to try what i read on here about maybe the putty is gone off of the drain thing…whatever it is it is a great mystery to all who looks at it lol i know it sounds stupid but because i am a single mom everyone who comes out wants to start tearing the floor up and break the concrete at a charge of over $1200.00 and i just don’t get that since i have never had any problems like this before…and thank you for trying to help me with this problem!!

    1. Wish I could have been more helpful Donna. It sounds like you’ve had a bunch of people out to look at it, too.

      Please keep me posted on the final outcome and what you did to fix it.

  17. giddy says:

    I’m having the same issue with my bathtub/ceiling. Will check to see if this will solve it.
    Thank you!

    1. Let me know how it goes and if I can help ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Bruce says:

    Got the “worst feeling” you mention when my son alerted me to stains on the family room ceiling directly below one of two upstairs bathtubs. A plumber is coming and I hope it is just the drain that needs repairing. The strainer fingers on it corroded several years ago so hopefully he can get it out.

    I do wonder if that is the cause though. I imagine he will cut the drywall to see the pipes underneath. I have a hard time understanding how the drain itself could leak since when I fill the tub with water it seems to hold. The piping is PVC so maybe there is a crack. I guess I am at the plumber’s mercy.

    1. Bruce, what happened to your tub? Did you ever figure out the problem?

  19. charlotte says:

    Our drain was clogged.after removing drain and overflow to clean hair my husband put it back together, and now there is water leaking very bad from the bottom of the shoe..we know because we cut a whole in wall and can see it just flowing into the concrete floor.. is this because we don’t redo the putty.and noticed the black rubber piece old and is from the 70s

    1. You may need to replace the tub shoe altogether Charlotte or try and find a gasket to replace the old corroded one. That gasket between the tub shoe and tub is what keeps water from leaking.

      See if you can take apart the tub shoe and match it with a replacement part at the hardware store or plumbing store. Also, check to make sure the underside of the tub is smooth where the gasket would sit. If it’s pitted or corroded then you’ll have to watch and see if the new gasket will seal properly.

  20. daila says:

    Hi, my drain is leaking when the bath is emptying. If I fix it what do I do about the water that may be trapped under the bath within the tiles? It is leaking out onto the floor at the opposite end to the drain so I imagine there is quite a build up of water there. Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Daila, do you have an access panel to the tub?

  21. Bob says:

    Is there a “flexible” sleeve long enough to go from the tub past the trap to the main drain pipe?

    1. How long does the sleeve need to be Bob?

    2. Jonathan says:

      I am looking g for the same thing. My master tub on the second floor leaks into the kitchen from upstairs. The problem is that I do not have access panels to the tub and since I believe the leak is probably in the area of the trap some type of flexible hose dinner for the pips would seem to work great.

      1. Boy, it’s hard to say without seeing the tub Jonathan. And I’m having a hard time envisioning the problem. That said, they make flexible Fernco fittings that are easy to use. Here’s a link to one example over on Amazon

  22. Michelle says:

    I really think this is the same problem I’m having. Mine is a one story house so no tell-tale damage on the ceiling. I noticed an issue after taking a bath and it flooded my carpeted bedroom. Nice. I’m also going to change the overflow gasket as well. I notice small wet spots in the grout at the side of the tub. I’ll try this fix (along with overflow) and hope for the best. Your tips make what seems to be an intimidating (and expensive) job not so scary!

    1. Thanks Michelle and sorry to hear about your carpet. That stinks. If you have trouble with your repair or need extra help this tutorial on how to replace a bathtub has all the steps

      Of course we’d be happy to answer additional questions.

  23. SRob says:

    First I must say thank you. I agree with Michelle from Jan 2, 2015 ” Your tips make what seems to be an intimidating (and expensive) job not so scary!” You also finally gave me the correct name for the drain flange and showed step by step of what I need to do. I have an very old, old house so I’ll buy the tools and let my brother do the muscle work. My drain flange looks exactly like yours do they all come in the same size? Also when I go to home depot do I need to purchase the black gasket piece as well?

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words.

      I try my best to break down the projects and make them doable.

      You’ll have to check the drain/waste kit at Home Depot and make sure it comes with all the parts you need.

      It’ll probably come with a gasket but double check so that you don’t have to make second trip to the store.

      Keep me posted on your progress or questions

  24. I am under the impression plummers putty is not to be used with fiberglass tubs. I tried silicone and it leaked twice. What else can I use?

    1. Sorry to hear about your leak Daniel. You can use 100% silicone with your tub. We recommend the surfaces be clean and free of any other sealant. Also, use copious amounts of silicone on each side of the fitting. This tutorial should help

  25. Matthew Smith says:

    Thanks for the walkthrough man! I had been putting off fixing that damn drain thinking it was going to be a nightmare. You helped make it look easy and I’m wondering if you have other diy walkthroughs. Thanks again!

    1. Awesome, thanks Matthew. We have a lot of great step-by-step tutorials. You can search our site and always feel free to send us an email if you have a specific question.

  26. dan says:

    For faucet drain CS said don’t use putty.
    Have you ever used silicon on drain threads?
    I used DAP 3.0 clear. Will this ever come off for future repairs?
    Why is putty preferred when they said it will wash out eventually?
    Because the sealers are too hard to get off?

    1. Metal pipe fittings need pipe dope like this
      You can use 100% silicone on some of the pipe fittings but watch this tutorial to see which ones

  27. dean says:

    So glad I saw this post before I started sawing pipes in two!!!! Thanks Jeff

    1. Lol, thanks Dean. Glad you didn’t start sawing pipes

  28. Brian says:

    My ceiling is collapsing due to a leak such as this. I am wondering if the reason that every time someone is in the shower a huge amount of water comes leaking down could be caused by something as simple as this

    1. It’s possible Brian. Hard to say until you investigate the cause. Showers are different than tubs and if that drain connection is bad then the water will leak freely. Let us know what you find.

      In the meantime, this drywall repair tutorial will help
      That should save you some money on the ceiling repair.

  29. Anu says:

    We discovered a bath tub leak from our second floor bathroom which dripped through the sidings. The bathroom has the original fixtures from 1989. It leaks when there’s excess amount of water used. Would this be a simple problem of refinishing everything using plumber’s putty?

    1. Thanks Anu for your questions. If the tub is that old it could be a variety of problems. The connection between the drain and the pipes is likely worn out and creating the leak. You could try to replace all those pipes and see how that works. This tutorial will help you see all the steps involved

  30. Jennifer says:

    Hey there, so we have a new tub, half of our house is a new extension, and we’re having the same issue… new tub over new dinning room, and the ceiling leaks bad when the tub drains. We have a pop up drain, will this fix a pop-up drain? You may have already answered this question but I only read the first few comments. Please let me know if there is anything different I will encounter or if I can just proceed fixing it the way your tutorial explains? Thanks so much in advance!

    Jennifer – DIY’er

    1. Oh boy, sorry to hear about your leak Jennifer. You could do the same repair but we recommend using silicone on all the drain connections and to use 100% silicone. This tutorial will help a lot but you might also want to see how we install a new bathtub

      You’ll see exactly how we tackle this project and how we prevent leaks.

      Also, if you need help fixing the drywall here’s another tutorial that will help a lot

  31. Siegfried says:

    My bathtub drain is leaking, after I opened up the drain I saw water, that back up is not normal I assume, it should be water free? How do I fix this?

    1. Hmmm Siegried, do you have pictures of the drain?

  32. Siegfried says:

    I just discovered that this is not a regular drain like the one in the pictures above, it has a metal base, the water in there is maybe 1/2 inch high, if runs off to the side, not down.

    1. That sounds like a tub draining problem Siegfried. The best thing to do is check the tub is level or at least is pitched toward the drain. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

  33. Kimberly says:

    Hi Jeff. We recently had our living room ceiling leak (a lot) and determined that we had thus same issue. We replaced the drain assembly just as you did and things have been fine since. We have stalled on replacing the drywall, so when the tub started leaking again about a month later, it was easily spotted. The leak is not nearly as bad, but still needs to be rectified. Any idea what would cause it to leak AGAIN after seeming to be fine after replacing the assembly?

    1. That stinks Kimberly, sorry to hear the leak came back. It’s hard to say what the problem might be without seeing the assembly. But using copious amounts of 100% silicone on the drain connections will help a lot. Watch or read this tutorial to see how we do this type of installation in a new tub installation

      You’ll see how Steve installs all the connections and that could help a lot.

  34. matt says:

    I’ll have to go back to plumber’s putty. I got away from it because it seemed to get mildewy (around a kitchen sink or bathtub) drain hole.
    However, after recently replacing a bathtub drain (in a converted whirlpool to regular tub setup) using silicone caulk and having it leak into the downstairs ceiling, I’ll gladly try the plumber’s putty again.

    1. Sorry to hear about your leak Matt, don’t give up on 100% silicone. It could be that the bead wasn’t big enough to properly seal.

  35. Bill says:

    Thank you! This was a lifesaver! As a new homeowner if only 8 months, I thought I was going to have start cutting holes in ceilings and walls of our newly renovated house but this solved the problem!! Glad I searched the web before starting the saw!!

    1. Glad to help Bill, and congrats on being a new homeowner!!!

  36. lin and johann says:

    We have a 1950 ish tub…..will this tool work on this tub drain flange?

    Living room ceiling is DESTROYED at this point

    Thank you

    1. It’s hard to say Lin and Johan but worth a shot.

      If you want a more full-proof option you can use 100% silicone caulk.

      If your ceiling is damaged you can easily fix it with these two tutorials

      The first one shows how to repair a damaged ceiling I had at a rental…this video has over 250,000 views and has helped tons of people

      The second video shows how to use a drywall lift…this comes in handy when you want to replace a large part of your ceiling

      Let me know if you have any questions

  37. Sarah says:

    Hello Jeff!
    We are currently having a similar problem with our tub. When the tub is about half full it leaks into the downstairs tenants apartment. (which leads me to believe its not the overflow pipe)
    It doesn’t leak when we use the shower.
    Do you think that it is just a leak in the basket as well?
    Thank you so much for posting this useful tutorial ๐Ÿ™‚
    People like you make the internet a better place!

    1. Thanks Sarah for your question, I’ll tell you a short story…

      Initially the leak in this tutorial was the tub shoe BUT over time, for whatever reason, the tub developed a crack in it.

      So as more water filled the tub the wider the crack became and the more water would leak.

      Our tenant only experienced massive leaks when she took baths, not showers…like you’re describing.

      But before you replace the tub like we did, check for cracks and any pipes that have cracks.

      Do you have an access panel?

  38. Gary says:

    Hey Jeff
    Steel or cast iron Bathtub is probably 40 +years old and slow dripping from bottom at the tub shoe. All around shoe is rusted and pitted so probably also rusted under shoe gasket. Plan on taking out drain and replacing shoe gasket. If the bottom of tub where shoe gasket seals is also pitted, is there a way to resurface this area so gasket can make a better fit? Would a thicker gasket or perhaps silicone caulk on top of gasket help fill some of the pitted spots? Hopefully, can get that gasket out in one piece so I can bring to store and get proper sized replacement. Any advice would sure be appreciated!!

    1. Great question Gary, I’d try to remove the rust with a scotchbrite pad or emery cloth. Then clean it off with water and sponge. If it’s too pitted you’ll have to replace the tub.

      In terms of the gasket, use 100% silicone sealant on the gasket and tub and attach the new pipes. Use a generous amount of silicone. Good idea to take the old parts to the store and match them up.

  39. Rebecca says:

    This is probably the most helpful tutorial I’ve found on removing and replacing a bathtub drain. I actually found this after I did it except I used caulk instead of plumbers putty. I hope it will still work. If not, at least I know how to do it and can go back and do it over again with putty. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write this out.

    1. Thanks Rebecca, and since we did this tutorial (a few years back) we now recommend using 100% silicone if possible. It’s a more permanent fix for a bathtub but should work very well.

  40. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I am descent with repairs, I just need a little reminding exactly how these fixtures were installed.

    1. Thanks Kevin, hope the tips help. I’m the same way, just need a quick reminder at times!

  41. Carol Ann says:

    Thanks sooo much for this tutorial! I’ve had a leaky bathtub for a year and was putting plumbers putty on the pipes and drains from underneath the bathtub. It was so frustrating when it would continue to leak! I went out this morning got the drain remover tool, did what you showed and within a half hour no leaks. I tested the drain with water flowing from the tap and with water in tub and removing the plug. Thanks
    Again thanks so much! P.S. Women-you can do this too!

    1. That’s awesome Carol Ann!!! Great job doing it yourself and not having to call someone. You saved quite a bit of money, too!!

  42. Suzanne Frisse says:

    Jeff, I’ve got a slightly different dilemma. My 30 yr old Kohler tub needed replacing and a friend did the job. We only recently discovered that there was a wet rectangle on my living room ceiling. My old tub was draining very slowly. I hired a plumber who said I needed to have the ceiling cut open for when the new tub would be installed. That the drain would go through that hole and when the new tub was in, one person would hold it from a ladder below while the other person pulled it through. Suddenly this new tub is getting very, very expensive. Is there any way to install the new tub without cutting into the ceiling?

    1. In this case I have to defer to your plumber Suzanne. If it’s a small section of drywall that repair shouldn’t be terrible. We have a good tutorial on how to make a drywall ceiling repair tutorial that walks you through it step-by-step

  43. Greg De Pol says:

    Hi Jeff, I have the same exact problem in a house I am renting. When I fill the tub halfway with water it holds it but when it drains it leaks. My tub is in a ranch concrete foundation. Looks like the issue is when it was installed they bathtub drain hole was drilled a quarter inch off center and all though the drain flange seals I think the gasket is too off center to form a good seal. I originally saw that there was a section plumbers putty missing and cleaned everything out and put only a small amount of putty around the drain flange and it still leaked. I will try using a larger amount like you did in this tutorial and see what happens. If it still leaks is there a way to replace the gasket with a larger gasket which will seal it properly?

    1. Great questions Greg and I’d try that different gasket. Also, you could use 100% silicone instead of plumbers putty. That’s a more permanent fix and could be a big help. Check out this tutorial we did on how to install a Kohler bathtub

      In that tutorial we show how to use the silicone at the drain connection to the tub. Hope those tips help.

  44. Bob says:

    Do you ever need to replace or clean the black rubber gasket?

    1. That gasket should last a long time. But if you need to replace it go with one made from the same manufacturer of the tub. This tutorial shares how we installed the gasket and use 100% silicone to create a watertight seal

  45. Terra says:

    This is great! Thanks for posting it. I am not worried about any leaks damaging ceilings or anything, BUT I can’t take a bath in our guest bathroom without all the water disappearing after a few minutes. It just won’t stay full. It just seems to leak through the drain even though it’s closed. Would you suggest me following your instructions here for this issue or does it sound like something else?

    1. That sounds like something else Terra. For example, the stopper not working inside the waste overflow or the popup stopper not creating a good seal. You could replace those parts and see if the water stays in the tub.

  46. Len P says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Im not an expert but I have a serious issue in my townhome. Under the upstairs tub I have pinpointed dripping every 20-30 seconds. I have a slight water stain in the closet first floor which is below the tub which again is upstairs. My half bath downstairs which is right next to the closet has a pooling of water seeping in from behind the wall. My first thought is to cut a hole in the stained Sheetrock and see if there is a visible leak. Any other advice u can offer me would be appreciated. We have a bath fitter tub/surround over existing but they don’t really do anything with parts underneath so I don’t think it’s the workmanship. This is a constant drip and as we don’t use that bathroom often it’s not an issue with the water going down while on. Does water sit in the line when not being used? Only way I can see us having a drip underneath. It does get slightly worse when I run the water. With all those facts maybe you can give me a few possible things to try. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Len for asking about your leak. I’d remove that section of drywall to investigate where the leak is coming from inside the tub. You might have a water supply line leak or a leak at the mixing valve. There could also be a small pinhole leak in the copper pipe or at a fitting. It takes some true Magnum PI skills to find the leak then you can fix it. My main concern is the growth of mold inside that wall or over your drywall. So it’s best to find the source asap.

  47. Len P says:

    Thanks Jeff. I’ll see what I can find. Are there any test kits I can buy? Or is the verdict what I see as far as mold is concerned?

    1. They sell test kits for mold but I’m not sure which are the best.

      1. Stephen says:

        Hey Jeff so I had a coroded cross at the bottom of the bathtub drain. So I went out and bought a tub drain extractor like you are talking about in this guide. But for some reason I cant get the extractor to get a good grip on the plug. I keep trying to hammer it in and use the socket wrench to twist it ok ut and it keeps slipping. What could I do to fix this problem.

  48. Tammy says:

    Thanks Jeff. My problem is slightly different (unless I missed it in the comments). Water only leaks when there is water sitting in the tub (below the overflow) – even 1/2โ€. It doesnโ€™t leak when water drains or when using the shower. I have checked for cracks and havenโ€™t found any. Could it be the ring around the drain? Any ideas? It is the only bathroom with a tub and we miss taking baths. Thanks!

  49. Angie says:

    My shower tub is constantly over flowed with water, I can never seem to get it down with draino, or a plunger. My landlord gave me chemical heat crystals and nothing! Someone came to try and attempt to fix it but I think it because the last chemical crystal attempt seemed to have made it worse. The guy took the shower drain apart, and also took apart the shower lever. When he attempted to put the shower drain back it was just left all wiggly with room for water to go in. As well as the circular shower lever. Should I call a plumber to fix this or is there a way I can do this myself ? ๐Ÿ™ HELP

  50. Anne says:

    I have a leak from upstairs tub to downstairs celing. I tried the $20 tool to get the drain out but it wouldn’t budge so I called a plumber. I heard the plumber was using an electric saw, for what I don’t know, to get the drain out and replaced the entire thing with a new pop-up drain I had bought several months prior. The tub still leaks after paying $157.00! He wouldn’t come back and suggested I try caulking the faucet surround and anything else. We had done several experiments. Filled tub with water from sink, ran water through shower head and finally the tub faucet itself and it didn’t leak. It only leaked when we tried to take a shower and it was a slow drip down through the ceiling, which now has a 1 inch hole in it! HELP! I’m wondering if there is still a gap where there should be enough putty?

  51. Kim Wolff says:

    So I bought a house from a guy I found out likes to flip and does ‘Band-Aids’! I took a bath in the upstairs tub and after popped off the side panels. I found plastic with standing water.. duck tape and water was leaking downstairs onto the kitchen floor. I’m a fix it kind of girl, where should I start?

  52. Shantell Jordan says:

    Hi, I have a busted tub drain that is under my ac unit. the tub runs along side my living room. the plumber said they would have pull back the carpet, and jackhammer the floor to make necessary repairs. is there anything i can do in the interim to help the tub drain until i can afford the repair?

  53. Stu Parkinson says:

    I’m having a similar problem with our tub.
    We had water come through our kitchen ceiling from the bathroom above. My daughter was having a bath at the time.
    I watched some you tube videos.
    Went out and got a new drain basket, new gasket and putty.
    My first attempt I just replaced the putty and installed the new drain. Still leaked.
    So I did it again, but this time replaced the gasket too. I ran the shower, and pressure tested it with a hslf full tub for 30 min… Success!! Or so I thought.
    24 hrs later I pressure tested again with half full tub and…. it leaks.
    Any ideas?
    It only leaks while plugged and the tub has water in it, the shower is ok and while draining the tub it is ok.
    Not sure what to do.
    Should I try and repeat the steps but this time with silicone??
    I consider myself handy but I’m no plumber.

  54. Kevin says:

    Hi Jeff. Is there a rule as to how much pressure do you use to tighten the drain flange on to the threaded shoe when putting it back on?..I am afraid to overly tighten it and crack something.Thanks for all the help…Kevin

  55. Juanita Ross says:

    I recently repaired flange of bathtub it has partly rusted I put new rubber gasket and new drain basket I used lot of putty first drain leaked so tried smaller amount drain still leaks water drains till bottom of basket.

  56. Patricia Javis says:

    Good Morning,
    What is the average cost to replace a shoe and cut drain?

    Thank you.

  57. Liz Jaunich says:

    Hi I have different tub drain than what is pictured- the water doesnโ€™t stay in do a bath is impossible. Itโ€™s got a pop up pull handle and the u have to turn it close to keep water in. Will the plumbers putty work for this ?

  58. Trisha L Brewer says:

    Lots of great information on repairing the tub/drain if that is the cause for the leaking down through the ceiling while showering. My tub/ shower combo is above our kitchen and recently began leaking water like a sprinkler or shower head weโ€™re fixed to the ceiling itself. The spray is not quite as much or as fast as the shower head itself but it is one major issue with ceiling damage. The tub doesnโ€™t leak while bathing/ draining although it has significant areas that creak while standing up using the shower and some minor scratches and cracks (Itโ€™s over 30 year old). My question is could my tub handle that turns the water on/off be the cause of the leak if itโ€™s silicone is worn? The tub faucet has a basic plunger pull up shower diverter. It is pretty worn on the edges of the faucet opening and the diverter has been functioning poorly for a few years. It diverts water to the shower head but water still comes out the tub faucet and recently I noticed even more water is getting past the diverter. Could this cause our leak? I am excited to attempt fixing this problem myself and would like to know if it could be a problem caused by something so simple as replacing the silicone around the on and off handle or even replacing the faucet itself or giving it a good clean in vinegar. I really would like to know as this may save me time and money in this repair. Thank you so much for your help! ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป

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