How to Replace a Garden Tub Faucet

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It's a big deal to replace a tub faucet in a bathroom because it means breaking into the wall so you can remove the old valve and install the new one, which is also true for a shower faucet. The valve is usually soldered to the water pipes, and replacing it is a job for an experienced plumber. You don't have to be a plumber to replace a garden tub faucet, though, because it has no central valve, and the job is as simple as replacing a sink faucet.

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What Is a Garden Tub Faucet?

Unlike conventional tub faucets that are designed to be installed on the bathroom wall, garden tub faucets are designed to be mounted on the tub itself. They have the same design as Roman tub faucets, and you can only install one on a tub that has a flat deck on one side or end with faucet holes. In other words, a garden tub faucet mounts exactly like a sink faucet.

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The only challenge you might encounter when replacing one would be if the tub is mounted too close to a wall to allow access to the underside of the faucet deck. That's unlikely to be the case with these freestanding tubs, so put down the phone and pick up your tools because the job should be an easy one.

Removing the Old Faucet

You need access to the underside of the faucet mounting deck, and once you have it, you'll be able to see the connections between the faucet and the water pipes. Find a way to turn off the water, which may involve shutting off a dedicated valve in the house or turning off the main water valve, depending on your plumbing. Unscrew the faucet connectors with tongue-and-groove pliers. If the connectors are rusted and won't turn, douse them with as much spray lubricant as needed to unstick them.

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Once the faucet is disconnected from the water supply, you can remove it from the tub. It's usually held on by large nuts that you'll be able to see when looking straight up at the faucet from underneath the faucet deck. The nuts have ribs that you may be able to grasp with pliers. If not, wedge the tip of a flat-head screwdriver against each one and tap the screwdriver with a hammer to turn the nut counterclockwise.

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After unscrewing the nuts from the two handles and the spout, you either lift all three components off the tub from above or lower the assembly down from below. If the latter, you'll also have to unscrew some nuts on the top of the faucet deck and remove the handles. Clean rust and debris off the tub deck before installing the new faucet.

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Installing the Replacement Faucet

Consult the instructions that came with your new faucet because the installation method may not be standard due to the faucet's design. In most cases, you install the new faucet by reversing the procedure for removing the old one.

If it's a top-mount faucet, drop the spout and handles (or the assembly, if they're connected) into the holes on the tub deck, screw on and tighten the retaining nuts and connect the water supply to the faucet posts. If the faucet mounts from below, lift it through the faucet holes, secure the nuts that hold it from above, screw on the retaining nuts, tighten them from below and reconnect the water supply.

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