A Guide to Fixing the Leaky Bathtub Faucet with Two Handles

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how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles


A leaky bathtub faucet can not only waste water but also be a constant annoyance. If you have a bathtub faucet with two handles—one for hot water and one for cold—it’s likely that the issue is related to the faucet’s stem or cartridge. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles , then helping you regain control over your water usage and prevent further wastage.

Why bathtub faucet is leaking?

A leaking bathtub faucet can be attributed to several common issues, each requiring different levels of expertise to address. Here are some potential reasons for a leaking faucet:

  • Worn-out Washer:

    Inside the faucet, there is a rubber or silicone washer that can deteriorate over time due to constant friction. When this happens, it may not form a proper seal, causing water to leak.

  • Loose or Worn-out O-Rings:

    O-rings are another type of seal found in the stem screw of the faucet. Like washers, they can also wear out or become loose, leading to leaks.

  • Corroded Valve Seat:

    The valve seat is where the faucet and the spout connect. Over time, water sediments can accumulate and cause corrosion, preventing a tight seal.

  • Improperly Installed or Faulty Cartridge:

In newer faucets, a cartridge is used instead of a compression valve. If not installed correctly or if the cartridge is damaged, it can lead to leaks.

  • Broken Plumbing:

Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the faucet itself, but rather with the pipes behind the wall. Then corroded or damaged pipes can result in leaks that manifest at the faucet.

  • High Water Pressure:

Excessively high water pressure can cause stress on the faucet, leading to leaks over time. A pressure regulator may be needed to correct this.

  • Cracked or Damaged Seals:

Seals within the faucet can degrade over time due to exposure to water and minerals. When this happens, they may no longer effectively stop water flow, resulting in leaks.

  • Improper Installation:

If the faucet wasn’t installed correctly initially, it may not form a proper seal, leading to leaks.

It’s important to address a leaking faucet promptly, as it can lead to wasted water and increased water bills. Depending on the complexity of the issue, you might be able to fix it yourself or you may need to call a professional plumber for assistance. Regular maintenance and occasional checks can help prevent future leaks and extend the lifespan of your faucet.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver (Phillips or flathead, depending on the screws)
  • Replacement stems or cartridges (make sure to get the correct type for your faucet model)
  • Plumber’s grease
  • Towels or rags
  • Bucket

How To Fix A Leaky Bathtub Faucet With Two Handles

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Before you start any work, turn off the water supply to the bathtub. Then locate the main water shut-off valve for your home and close it to prevent water flow to the faucet.

2. Remove the Handles

To access the faucet’s internals, you’ll need to remove the handles. Here’s how:

If your handles have decorative caps, carefully pry them off with a flathead screwdriver to reveal the screws beneath.
Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove the screws holding the handles in place.
Gently pull the handles off the stems.

3. Access the Stems or Cartridges

Once the handles are removed, you’ll see the stems or cartridges. Depending on your faucet model, these may be secured with a nut or a retaining clip. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the nut or clip.

4. Inspect and Replace the Stems or Cartridges

Inspect the condition of the stems or cartridges. If they are worn, damaged, or corroded, it’s recommended to replace them with new ones. Take the old stems or cartridges to a hardware store to ensure you get the correct replacements.

5. Apply Plumber’s Grease

Before installing the new stems or cartridges, apply a thin layer of plumber’s grease to the parts that will come into contact with other components. This helps ensure smooth operation and prevents leaks.

how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles

6. Install the New Stems or Cartridges

Insert the new stems or cartridges into their respective positions. Then make sure they properly aligned and pushed in all the way.

7. Reassemble the Handles

  • Align Parts: Make sure you have all the handle components including screws, washers, and caps. Align them in the correct order.
  • Slide onto Valve Stem: Slide the handle onto the valve stem, ensuring it fits snugly.
  • Secure with Screw: If applicable, insert and tighten the screw through the handle into the valve stem. This secures the handle in place.
  • Attach Cap or Cover: If your faucet has a decorative cap or cover, position it over the screw and handle, and secure it in place.
  • Test Handle Operation: Gently turn the handle to ensure it operates smoothly and without resistance.
  • Repeat for Other Handles: If you have multiple handles, repeat the process for each one.
  • Tighten any Loose Components: Check for any loose parts or connections and tighten them as needed.
  • Turn on Water: Turn on the water supply and test the handles again to ensure there are no leaks and that they operate properly.

Remember to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific faucet model, as some may have unique components or installation steps. If you encounter difficulties, consider seeking professional help to ensure a proper reassembly.

8. Turn On the Water Supply

With everything reassembled, turn the main water shut-off valve back on. Slowly turn on the bathtub faucet handles to check for leaks. If you notice any leaks, turn off the water supply and double-check the connections.

9. Fine-Tune the Operation

If the handles feel too loose or tight, you can adjust them by loosening or tightening the screws that hold the handles in place. This step helps ensure a comfortable and functional faucet operation.

10. Test and Monitor

Turn the faucet on and off several times to ensure smooth operation and check for leaks. Keep an eye on the faucet over the next few days to make sure the leak is completely resolved.

how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles


Fixing a leaky bathtub faucet with two handles is a satisfying DIY project that can save water, prevent annoyance, and improve the functionality of your bathroom. By following this step-by-step guide and taking your time to properly replace the stems or cartridges, then you can successfully address the leak and restore your faucet to optimal working condition. If you encounter any challenges or the leak persists, it might be a good idea to consult a professional plumber to ensure a proper fix.

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