If you want to replace or clean your tub, a stuck tub spout is a big hassle. Luckily, it’s easy to find the issue and remove your spout, no matter how stuck it is.
Removing a stuck tub spout is normally a matter of figuring out why it’s stuck and going from there. In most cases, tub spouts stick because of calcification and buildup. If you clear that, your tub spout should come out easily.
How to Remove a Bathtub Spout
Removing a bathtub spout is normally a very simple matter. However, you might have one of two types of bathtubs. Removing the spout will depend on which you have.
Removing Slip-On Tub Spout
Slip on tub spouts slid into place and then normally tighten with a small set screw at the base of the spout. In some rare cases, the slip-on tub spout might be attached using silicone or another fixative. However, in almost every case, it will also have a set screw.
Check Which Screw You Have
Normally, these set screws use an Allen Wrench in 1/8”. However, in some cases, they might also use a Phillips Screwdriver in #2. Manicures will also rarely use something else, so you might have a different screw type in place if you have a very old tub spout.
To check which screw is in your tub spout, try twisting the spout to the left to turn it screw-face up. In most cases, the spout should twist up fairly easily. However, if the set screw is very tight or the tub spout is fixed to the wall, it will not turn.
Your options are:
- Look under the tub spout. Normally this means getting in the tub and lying on your back to see the underside of the tub spout.
- Cutting fixative away from the tub spout. Normally you can achieve this by running a thin knife, such as a potato knife, between the tub spout and the wall.
- Twisting harder, using a towel or a pair of gloves. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the wall, as it may be simple tile backing. Therefore, too much outward pressure can break the tile and the wall.
Once you know what type of set screw you have, you can find an appropriate screwdriver or Allen wrench. If you’re replacing the tub spout or installing a diverter for a shower, now is also a good time to check what tools you need for that project.
Take the Tub Spout Off
It’s always advisable to turn off the water to the bathroom before doing work on the bathroom. After all, if you accidentally break a pipe, you don’t want to flood the bathroom. However, replacing a tub spout is a simple job and you should be able to do it safely if you can’t find the water mains.
To do so, either twist the tub spout so that the set screw is facing upwards or maneuver your screwdriver under the tub spout. Insert it into the set screw and turn firmly to the left. Loosen the screw completely and take it out. Then, pull the tub spout away from the wall. In some cases, you might have to loosen silicone or another fixative. You can do this by wriggling the spout against the wall. You can also run a thin-bladed knife such as a potato knife, around the wall between the spout and the tile. Then, pull the spout off.
In some cases, your slip on tub spout may still be stuck. That might be because it has copper threads on the inside. Try twisting your tub spout counterclockwise. In other cases, your tub spout may be jammed on. You’ll have to use force to get it off. And, in some cases, the tub spout is caulked or silicone to the wall and you’ll have to scrape that off before proceeding.
Cleaning and Next Steps
If you’re putting a new tub spout in place, you likely want to clean off the wall, clean the pipes, possibly install a diverter, and prepare the space for the new spout. In most cases, slip-on tub spouts fix to the water pipe. This means you’ll have to drill holes if you want to put in something heavier. You can plan your next steps based on what you intend to put in its place.
Removing a Screw on Tub Spout
Screw on tub spouts are normally very easy to remove. However, they can easily become stuck. For example, if you have an old tub spout, calcification or lime buildup could prevent it from turning easily. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to get it off anyway. In this guide, we’ll cover how to get your screw-on tub spout off normally.
Loosen Any Silicone or Fixative
Check to ensure your tub spout isn’t glued on. This means checking for silicone or another fixative at the base. If it is, run a razor blade, potato knife, or other thin-bladed knives under the edge of the spout, working the blade between the wall and the spout. If you’re using a razor blade, be very careful that you don’t break the blade.
Twist Your Tub Spout Off
Try turning the tub spout with your hands. You may need a pair of work or gardening gloves to get a good grip. Turn it to the left. If it doesn’t budge, you’ll want to try something else.
Find a large tool such as a pair of adjustable pliers, an adjustable wrench, or a small poker. Insert the handle(s) into the nozzle on the tub spout. You want the tool to be far enough in the spout that the turning motion puts pressure on the upper part of the nozzle. Then, turn the tub spout using the tool. This increases the turning pressure, as the tool acts like a lever. Twist the tub spout off.
Here, you want to be careful that you don’t accidentally break the wall. If your wall is a tile veneer, you’ll want to put as little pressure on it as possible.
Clean and Replace It
Once you have your tub spout off, you can clean it, replace it, or do anything else you’d like. If you want to replace it, you’ll need a similar model to do so. Otherwise, you’ll have to replace the screw-on fixture which is likely fixed in the wall.
3 Alternative Ways for Bathtub Spout Removal
If your tub spout is stuck, there are plenty of other ways to get it off. In most cases, tub spouts get stuck because of rust, calcification, or even a crooked set screw. These alternative removal options should help you out.
Importantly, you always want to check which type of tub spout you have first. If you have a set screw, attempt to get it out first. However, most of these methods can help with removing stuck set screws as well.
A hairdryer or simply running very hot water through your tap may loosen your spout from the wall. That’s mostly true if the tap is tight on the screw, is tight around the pipe, or is otherwise jammed. Heat causes metal to expand, which can loosen the spout. Here, you want to use either hot water or a hairdryer.
Hot Water Method
Run the hot water tap until the tap heats up. This should take 3-5 minutes. Use a pair of gloves or potholders to pull or twist the tub spout off the wall. Be careful, as hot water can be hot enough to cause burns.
Plug a hairdryer in the bathroom and apply it to the base of the tap. Turn the heat to the highest setting. Run the hair dryer for 3-5 minutes, or until the tap is unpleasantly hot to the touch. Use gloves or potholders to twist or pull the spout off the wall.
Calcification or built-up sedimentation is a very common reason for tub spouts to stick to the wall. In addition, calcification can cover and obscure set screws. This can make it significantly more difficult to remove the tub spout. Here, you want to use vinegar or a decalcification solution to clean the tub spout so you can remove it.
Unfortunately, actually getting vinegar in your tub spout while it’s hanging up can be a challenge. Here, there are two options, depending on how much vinegar and water you have and how stuck it is.
Option 1: Use a Towel
Take an old tea towel, not a fluffy one, and soak it in vinegar. Wrap the tub spout – making sure to cover the part of the tub spout against the wall. If you have a set screw in place, make sure you cover the set screw as well.
Then, wait a few hours. The longer you let it set, the more time the vinegar has to eat away at the calcification. You can occasionally come in and add more vinegar to the towel if it is drying out. You can also check to see if the vinegar has loosened the tub spout every few hours or so.
Option 2: Use a Spray Bottle
Fill a spray bottle with a mix of half vinegar and half water. Spray it onto the seams around the edge of the tub spout and into the set screw, where applicable. Repeat this every few minutes, until you’re certain vinegar has gotten into the edge. Repeat the process every hour or so for 3-4 hours. Then, try to loosen the tub spout.
Option 3: Use a Bucket
If the tub spout is very stuck, you can try for a longer-term soak in more water. Here, you want to hang a small bucket against the tub spout and against the wall. Get as much of the tub spout into the bucket as you can. Then, fill the bucket with a vinegar and water solution. Run a towel over the top of the tub spout, against the wall, and make sure both ends are in the bucket. Soak the towel with vinegar. Allow this to sit for 4-24 hours depending on how stuck it is.
Eventually, the vinegar should eat away the calcification. Unfortunately, it will always be easier to remove calcification from a tub spout when the tub spout is already off the wall.
Sometimes your tub spout will be stuck because it’s stuck. Often, tub spouts have to be forced onto pipes. The copper pipe underneath can also expand with time. This means you might simply be working around friction. Lubricants, such as a silicone spray or even cooking oil can be greatly helpful. However, like with vinegar, the difficult part is often getting the spray where it will do any good. Here, you also have several options.
Lubricate at the Wall
If your tub spout is sticking part of the way down the copper pipe, you can try lubricating the end at the wall to see if it helps. Here, the issue is likely that part of the pipe has expanded and is sticking against the smaller opening at the back of the spout. In this case, you can use a lubricant or cooking oil to oil the edges and hope it slides off more easily. It’s also a good idea to make sure you don’t get oil on the spout itself, as this can make it slippery and difficult to pull off.
Buy a Spray Nozzle
In most cases, you need lubricant on the inside of the spout. This normally means purchasing a lubricant, such as WD-40 with a long hose or spout that can fit inside the tub spout. These long, flexible plastic tubes are normally designed to fit into small spaces, but it may still be a tight fit inside the tub spout. Try inserting the tube from the front of the spout and spraying once you’ve gotten the hose back as far as it will go. Then, you can spray while pulling the hose out to ensure everything is sprayed down.
Tub Spout Won’t Unscrew: Try This
If your tub spout is very stuck, there are other options you can try. In most cases, they are a lot more extreme. Therefore, you should double check with the other methods listed before trying them.
Access the Tub Spout from the Back
In most cases, you can remove a portion of the wall paneling on either the bathroom or the other side of the wall. Then, you can see what’s holding the tub spout in place. For example, you can see where the spout connects to the wall, how it connects, and what’s holding it. If there’s a screw in place, you can easily access it there.
This allows you to:
- Put a vinegar or decalcification solution on the inside of the mechanism, where it’s most likely to do some good
- Look for the set screws are or if they are there at all
- Check if there is rust or deterioration, which may prevent you from taking it off normally
- To use lubricant on the inside of the spout
Alternatively, you can also take the pipe off from the connection to the faucet handles. This should allow you to slide the pipe and the faucet out of the hole in one go. This definitely requires turning off the water. You should do so from the water mains. You’ll also want to ensure that your hot water is off.
Cut the Tub Spout Off at the Wall
It’s also an option to simply cut the tub spout off at the wall. Here, you can use a normal hacksaw. However, you should keep in mind that this means replacing the pipe in the wall.
Take the hacksaw to the end of the tub spout. If you can fit it between the tub and the spout or between the wall and the spout, you’ll have the easiest time cutting it off. Then, use long, downward strokes, with light downward pressure. Keep the tip of the hacksaw pointed downward and use longer strokes for a faster cut.
If you have a Dremel or a similar handheld rotary tool, you can also choose to use this to cut the spout off. However, it is much more dangerous to do so. Make sure you use eye protection. You’ll also want to hold the rotary tool using both hands and to stand in a manner that if the Dremel slips, it cannot slide into your arm or leg.
Once you’ve cut the spout off, you can replace the pipe. Here, you want to add an extension to the pipe, pull the old pipe out and replace it, or cap the full thing.
Can’t Find Set Screw on Tub Spout
Finding your tub spout’s set screw should be very easy. However, if it’s not, there are a few additional things you can try.
Where is the Set Screw On Tub Spout?
The set screw on a tub spout is always located in a hollow on the bottom of the spout. In some rare cases, there are caps in this hollow. However, in other cases, your tub spout might not have a set screw at all. In this case, the tub spout is a “screw on” model. This means it attaches to a pipe by means of an internal threaded system that fits over a matching system on the other side of the wall.
Check Under the Tub Spout
Use your hands to feel the base of the tub spout, normally right against the wall. Is there a hole? Is there a seam that feels like a hollow? Or is there a ball of caulk or other material indicating someone has filled a hole? If so, you’ve found your tub spout’s set screw.
Twist the Tub Spout
It’s normally very easy to twist a slip-on tub spout to see the bottom. Grip the tub spout with both hands and turn it counterclockwise or to the left. Alternatively, you can use the handle of a tool to apply pressure inside the tub spout to turn it. Then, you can simply see the bottom. Is there a screw? Congratulations you’ve found it! No? Keep turning and see if the tub spout comes off that way.
How to Determine What Type of Tub Spout You Have
If you have a standalone tub spout, or one not attached to valves, it is either a screw-on or a slip-on mechanism. Both are relatively easy to identify. On the other hand, if your tub spout is attached to handles, it normally screws onto the wall through the handles.
Check for a Set Screw
Checking for a set screw will always tell you what type of tub spout you have. If it’s there, then you know you can take the set screw out and remove the tub spout. If it is not there, you probably have a screw on the model. You can then unscrew it to see.
In some cases, it’s harder to tell what type of tub spout you have because the spout has been glued on. This can completely cover set screws. It might also prevent you from turning the spout. In this case, your best option is probably cutting it off.
Old Models on Tubs
Some old metal tubs have single part spout mechanisms that are part of the tub. You cannot easily take these off. However, you also can’t easily replace them. Therefore, you shouldn’t take one off unless you know what you’re doing, and you think you can replace it with another model.
4 Benefits of Removing Old Tub Spouts
There are plenty of reasons you might want to remove your old tub spout.
Installing a Diverter
If you have an old bathroom, it might only have a bathroom tap. If you want a shower, you’ll have to install a diverter. Unfortunately, that means taking the tub spout off and installing the diverter there. Sometimes, this also means installing a new spout with a diverter built in.
Improving the Tap
Old taps get dirty, clogged, bent, broken, and otherwise damaged. In some cases, the tap design might just be bad. Taking yours off means being able to fix it, replace it, or otherwise improve it. For example, if your bathtub spout splashes water on the floor when running, you can replace it for a longer model that doesn’t. Or, you can replace it for a model with a built-in sprayer, which makes it more useful for something like washing children.
Renovating Your Bathroom
New taps can improve the look and feel of your entire home. And, whether your change is just replacing the tub spout, changing the whole tap, adding a shower, or anything else, it will make a big difference.
Cleaning the Tap
If your tap is clogged or old and less than shiny, taking it off allows you to clean it. In most cases, you can easily soak a tap in vinegar and baking soda for 24 hours, wipe it down, and have it look almost good as new. That is, unless the chrome is cracked or damaged.
Changing a tub spout can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Hopefully, this FAQ will help.
Can a tub spout be replaced?
Yes. Most tub spouts easily screw off and back on. This makes it very easy to change them out, so long as you choose a similar model. If you want to exchange a tub spout for a different type of faucet, such as one with built-in valves, it will require more work. For example, you may have to drill into the wall to support a larger faucet.
Are tub spouts universal?
Somewhat. Tub spouts normally use half in threads. Tub spouts always work with ½” piping. However, the length can vary significantly. For example, screw-on or twist-on tub spouts might need anywhere from a ½” to a 1-3/8” nipple to screw onto. For this reason, you should always measure what you have before buying a replacement tub spout.
What is a tub spout called?
A tub spout, bath spout, spigot, faucet, or bath faucet goes by many names. In most cases, you can use the word faucet when it includes the valves. On the other hand, if you don’t have valves, it is, in fact, a spout.
Removing a tub spout should be relatively easy. However, yours may be stuck or difficult to remove. Worst case scenario, you can always turn off the water and cut it off.