How to Fix a Loose Bathtub Faucet Handle Like a Pro – Fast Method

This article is all about how to fix a loose bathtub faucet handle.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that households with leaky faucets and pipes lose up to 10,000 gallons of water every year.

You think I must be joking, right?


It’s the estimation of The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Water leaking is the most irritating issue with plumbing fixtures. Let’s talk about the loose bathtub faucet.

Because of constant usage, both the inside of the faucet handle and the stem attached may wear down. This results in a loose handle.

A loose handle maximizes your water expenses. It also leads to an irritating noise and leaves unsightly stains on the bathtub. If not repaired early on, the entire faucet may totally be damaged.

Wondering how to fix a leaky tub faucet handle?

You can ask for professional plumbing services to fix the problem. Or you can try it yourself with some basic tools to bring big savings to your wallet. In fact, fixing a leaky bathtub faucet handle is not a particularly difficult job.

So, how is it done?

Check out this simple tutorial for DIY fixation.

Identify What Causes a Leaky Bathtub Faucet

Before we get started, you may be wondering what caused the leakage issues.

Your bathtub faucet may drip due to different reasons. Before starting your work, identify the problem or causes of the leaky handle. It’ll help you deal with the issue appropriately. 

Some of the main causes of a leaky tub faucet are:

  • The most likely reason for a leaking faucet is the damaged washer. Over time, the washer gets hard and deformed. When this part is worn out, it fails to hold water in pipes, the water drip through, causing the leak.
  • Another possible reason for the leakage is the damaged seat of the washer. This part may be damaged if the washer wears away severely and cause a leak itself. What’s more, if not replaced the seat, it may quickly damage the new washer, which may cause the leak to return.
  • Due to constant usage, the screws and nuts that hold the handle tight may become loose, and it starts leaking.
  • Mineral build-up inside the valves, pipes, and other fixtures or functioning parts are also responsible for dripping from the tap.

What You Need

This is not a tool-free job. So to complete the project, you may need the following tools.

  • Flathead screwdriver/ pocket knife
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Seat wrench
  • Scourer

How to Fix a Loose Bathtub Faucet Handle – Step by Step Guidelines

This guideline will show you how to repair a loose single handle, double handles, and three handles tub faucet.

How to Fix a Leaky Single Handle Tub Faucet

Due to a worn washer around the valve stem is the main reason for most leakage issues in a single handle faucet.

Here’s how to replace the worn O-ring/ washer on a bathtub faucet:

The first thing you need to do is find the water cutoff to shut off the water flow to the faucet. There may have a simple valve to turn off the water supply to the bathtub. If not, you have to shut off the water supply to your whole house.

Twist the handle to open the faucet in the bathtub and allows all the water to run out before you get started.

Dissembling the parts

1. Remove the decorated cover or cap that covers the screw of the handle. By using a flathead screwdriver or pocket knife, just pop this cap off.

2. Once the cap is removed, you’ll find an exposed screw inside the handle that holds it in place. Unscrew this screw with the help of a flat screwdriver and remove the handle.

** Depending on how old the faucet is, removing it can be tricky. Water deposits and corrosion may cause it difficult to remove. If the handle doesn’t come off easily, pour boiling water over it. Alternatively, you can heat it with a hairdryer to make it lose. But don’t force it to remove as you might break it.

3. You can also use a handle puller to resort to it.

4. If your faucet features a decorative collar or escutcheon behind the handle, you need to remove it. Depending on the style, you will need to unscrew it to remove or simply twist it off. Now you have access to the stem assembly.

**Keep all the screws and cap of the handle somewhere safe where you will be able to find them again later. You’ll need them to complete the replacement.

5. Turn the stem bonnet counterclockwise until it comes off.

6. The next step involves removing the stem assembly. For doing this, you’ll require an adjustable wrench. Loose and take out the faucet stem.

7. Inspect the washer and other removed components for any damage. Also, check for hard water deposits, dried caulk, rust, or corrosion. If you find any, clear away.

8. If you find mineral deposits, remove them by pouring white vinegar on their surface. Leave the parts for a while and brush them off with a scourer.

9. Remove the seat of the washer by using a seat wrench. Check it for any sign of damage. It is a tiny tubular part that is positioned inside the faucet. This seat may get damaged when the washer severely wears out.

Replacing The Damaged Parts

Replacing the washer

If you found the old washer damaged, you need to change it. It’s a simple job. Unscrew the screw to remove the old washer. If you have a spare washer, oil it and put it in place. Grease the packing nut screws and tighten them.

** If you don’t already have spare one, go to the plumbing supply shop to buy a new one. It’s a good idea to take the old one with you to compare and get the right replacement.

Replacing The Seat Washer If Needed

If you find any sign of damage, replace the seat. Before replacing, grease the new seat and screw.

Reassembling the faucet

Once you have replaced the old washer and the seat as necessary, it’s time to put everything back in place.

  1. Grease the threads of the stem and reinstall the stem assembly. Tighten it with the help of an adjustable wrench.
  2. Reinstall the escutcheon and screw it back into place.
  3. Oil the handle joints and screw the handle to attach it firmly.

** Don’t overtighten the faucet as it’ll be difficult to open to adjust in the future. Apply moderate tightening.

4. Push the cap or handle insert back into place that covers it.

5. Turn the water supply back on. Open and then close the tap to check if the leak persists. If it is no longer leaking, you have successfully done the job.

How to Fix a Leaky Tub Faucet Double Handle

A double handle tub faucet functions as the same as a single handle bathtub faucet. However, the only difference is double handle faucet uses two separate handles to control the temperature and water flow.

Therefore, the process of fixing a double handle faucet is the same applied to a single faucet.

How to Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet 3 Handle

Although it looks complicated, you can fix a leaking three-handle tub faucet by following the same steps as we shown above for the single handle tub faucet.

This type of faucet has separate levers for cold and hot water supply. There is also a diverter in the middle.


That’s all.

Easy, right?

Hope, you have found fixing a leaky faucet is a pretty easy repair job.

By following our step-by-step guidelines on how to fix a loose bathtub faucet handle, you’ll be able to do it yourself and save some cash.

Good luck with your project!

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