A two-handle bathtub faucet, also known as a shower set, is a fairly common fixture in homes. The number of handles or knobs on the faucet body identifies how many “flows” it has to control hot and cold water going to the tub spout.
When one or both of these fixtures fail to shut off the water, it is common to replace them. Here’s how to replace a two handle bathtub faucet.
- Tubing cutter or hacksaw
- Two adjustable wrenches
- Slip joint pliers
- Channel-lock pliers
- Pipe joint compound
- A small brush
All of these supplies can be found at a home improvement store.
Once you have gathered all the tools and supplies you need, gather up your old two-handle bathtub faucet. If it is still attached to the tub, use a tubing cutter or hacksaw to cut off the water supply from underneath the tub.
Once the water supply is cut off, disconnect the supply line and remove the faucet. If you are replacing a separate shower head and bathtub faucet, then wait until after your new two-handle bathtub faucet is installed before removing that fixture.
STEP 1: Clean any dirt or debris
When all connections have been removed, rinse out any dirt or debris from inside the holes in the tub and around the faucet. Use a small brush to make sure all areas are clean and free of debris, and rinse with some freshwater.
Now you can open your new two-handle bathtub faucet’s instruction manual. If you do not have one, it may be helpful to look online at how other people have installed their two-handle bathtub faucets, but it is important to be sure you are installing yours how the manufactures’ instructions say.
Your new two-handle bathtub faucet will have similar parts to your old one but the instructions may be different. If your instructions are missing anything or are difficult to understand, don’t be afraid to reach out to a plumber or faucet expert for help.
STEP 2: Shut off the water supply
The first thing you’ll need to do is turn off the water supply in your house’s mainline. Look in your home’s basement for a shutoff valve and close it.
Even if the two-handle bathtub faucet set you are buying includes a shutoff valve, it is best to have one separate shutoff valve for each house line. This prevents water from leaking if the faucet set breaks or has any problems.
STEP 3: Remove the old fixture
Place an adjustable wrench on either side of your old two-handle bathtub faucet’s nipple connections at the wall and turn counterclockwise to remove the connectors.
If your new replacement set does not include nipple connections, you will need to buy them separately. The nipple connections are how the faucet is attached to the wall or tub.
After removing the old connector pieces, place an adjustable wrench on either side of your old two-handle bathtub faucet’s ball attachments at the wall and turn counterclockwise to remove those.
Some two-handle bathtub faucet sets will include ball attachments, but others will not. If your new replacement set does not come with them, you will need to buy them separately.
STEP 4: Replace the faucet fixture
It is time to install your new two-handle bathtub faucet. Place an adjustable wrench on either side of the nipple connections at the wall and turn clockwise to tighten them into place.
Place an adjustable wrench on either side of your new two-handle bathtub faucet’s ball attachments in the wall and turn clockwise to tighten them into place.
Finally, place the valve stem through the nipples at the wall with an adjustable wrench and turn it counterclockwise until it is secure. If you are using a separate shutoff valve, you will need to tighten the shutoff valve’s handle.
STEP 5: Test the new fixture
Test that all components of your two-handle bathtub faucet are working properly before turning your water supply back on. Turn on your faucet and let it run for a few minutes to ensure there is no leaking at any connections or joints.
If everything is working properly, you can turn your water supply back on. Once the water is turned back on, run your bathtub faucet to make sure it is working without leaking.
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Final Thoughts on How to Replace a Bathtub Faucet
Please note that if any of your old components do not work with how your new set has been installed, you will need to remove them and replace them how they originally were.
If you are missing any components, or do not know how to install them, please contact a plumber or faucet expert for help.
If you have replaced your two-handle bathtub faucet set but are still having problems trying to get it working right, it may be time to call in the professionals.