Fixing the Tub Faucet: A Comprehensive Guide

The most recent update was on November 18th, 2022.

It can be difficult to learn how to change bath taps or bath fillers. Bath taps are generally more difficult to access than other taps, especially if there is another unit nearby.

Learning how to change basin taps can be much easier because getting under a bathroom sink is much easier than getting under a bath.

I've been replacing faucets for over ten years, and changing bath faucets is definitely more difficult than changing a kitchen faucet most of the time.

Here I'll give you my best advice for replacing bath taps and any other bath tap parts you may need to replace.

Bathtub Fitting Instruments

These are the bath tap fitting tools I require for the majority of bath tap replacement jobs. The bath tap tightening tool, also known as a standard tap backnut box spanner, is 27 mm long on one end and 32 mm long on the other.

The 32 mm end is suitable for changing almost all bath taps, while the 27 mm end is suitable for changing bathroom sink taps.

If the old bath taps do not have flexible tap connectors, you will also need a pipe cutter or two (15 mm and 22 mm) to cut the pipes and install isolation valves for the new flexible tap connectors to connect to.

How to Remove a Bathtub Faucet

  • Isolate the water supply to the bath taps by closing the main stopcock or using isolating valves on the bath tap pipes.
  • Open the bath and other taps in the house to drain the water from the pipes.
  • Place a towel beneath the bath faucets to catch any water.
  • If the old taps lack flexible tap connectors, cut the copper pipes.
  • With an adjustable spanner, turn the nut on the bottom of the tap threads anti-clockwise and pull the pipes to the side.
How to Remove a Bathtub Faucet

  • Remove the tap connectors as well as any pipes you may have cut.
  • Turn a backnut box spanner anti-clockwise over the tap threads and the backnuts that are securing them to the bath to unscrew and remove both backnuts.
  • Remove the bath faucets or bath filler mixer faucets from the holes.

How to Install a Bathtub Faucet

  • Install the new bath tap into the bath holes, using any foam or rubber seals provided, and tighten the backnuts from underneath.
How to Install a Bathtub Faucet

  • Tighten with the box spanner's large end and the backnut tap tightening tool.
  • Tighten the flexible tap connectors with an adjustable spanner onto the tap threads.
  • If the pipes had to be cut, you should install some new flexible tap connectors.
  • Close all of the property's taps, then re-start the water supply and check for leaks.

How to Change Bath Taps Without Taking Out the Bath

As a plumber, I would never recommend installing taps in the middle of a bath if the bath is going to be against a wall, but I have seen them.

When a person discovers that in order to change the bath taps, the bath must be removed, it is always too late.

Here are your options if you have a bath with the tap in the middle against a wall:

  1. Pass through the barrier
  2. Use a slim plumber.
  3. Have a unique tap.

Break Through the Wall

To change the bath taps without removing the bath, you must cut a large hole in the wall against which the bath is located in order to access the bath tap and pipes underneath the bath. This could be a plasterboard or, in the worst-case scenario, a brick wall.

I've gone through a few plasterboard walls from the bedroom next door to change a bath tap, but surprisingly, no one has ever asked me to go through their brick wall. A plasterboard wall can be repaired.

Make use of a Skinny Plumber.

Another option for changing a bath tap without removing the bath is to use a small, skinny plumber (I'm not kidding) to squeeze under the bath.

I'm not in this category, but there are some, and I've seen videos of them doing it.

Install a Special Bath Tap When Installing the Bath

Not much help when replacing your bath tap, but there are special bath taps available now that allow you to change the main part of the bath tap from above the bath after the tap has been installed.

I haven't come across or installed any. These would have to be installed at the same time as the bathtub.

How to Replace Bath Tap Parts

When there is a problem with a bath tap, you do not always need to replace it; here are the parts of a bath tap that can be replaced:

How to Replace a Bathtub Faucet Head

To replace a bath tap head, locate the screw that holds it to the bath tap. This is usually protected by a plastic cap that can be screwed or pulled off with a small flathead screwdriver.

Once this is removed, you can loosen the screw that holds the tap's head in place. This is typically a grub screw that accepts a 2 Allen key, 5 mm Once this is undone, the head or handle should simply pull the bath tap off. Then install the new bath faucet head.

How to Replace a Bathtub Tap Cartridge

To change a bath tap cartridge, first remove the head or handle as described above, and then unscrew the brass cartridge anticlockwise with an adjustable spanner.

If you're replacing two separate bath taps, you may need to hold the tap still with some large water pump pliers or a pipe wrench while you turn the cartridge out.

On old bath faucets, these can be extremely stiff. Once removed, simply screw the new cartridges in and tighten them with a spanner.

How to Replace a Bathtub Washer

If you need to repair a dripping faucet, changing the tap washer may be an option. Bath tap washers can only be changed on full-turn faucets.

That means taps that must be turned several times before the water will flow as quickly as it can.

You cannot replace the washer on quarter-turn or half-turn taps because they lack washers and instead use ceramic discs.

If you have full-turn bath taps, remove the tap cartridges as described above, and then replace the washer with the same washer.

These can be difficult to come by. I would suggest replacing the cartridges rather than the washers.


Changing bath taps can be a difficult task, especially if they are old and have copper pipes all the way up to the tap.

Bath taps can be difficult to replace because they are difficult to access.

If you have easy access under the bath and can easily reach the farthest pipe away, you should be fine.

Please leave any questions in the comments section below, and I will do my best to answer them.

FAQs on Changing Bath Taps

The box spanner size required for bath taps is 32 mm. Almost all bath tap backnuts will be covered by this. Backnut box spanners with 32 mm at one end for bath tap backnuts and 27 mm at the other end for bathroom sink tap backnuts are available.

Changing bath taps can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day. Every job and situation is unique, but changing the bath taps can be a difficult task.

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