Bathtub drain leaking: Find and Fix the problem (AVOID Doing This!)

Bathtubs are great for taking a relaxing shower or letting the kids tub away the day, but they can also be a source of leaks and drips. A leak in your tub can cause water damage and mold. Fortunately, fixing a tub drain can be an easy DIY project that can save you a lot of money in the long run. Follow our guide to fixing a leaking tub drain and stop your bathroom from costing you money!


 Find where the water leak is located

The first step is to locate where the water leaks out. Given that a drain can be behind a wall, it can be difficult to see it. You can check where there is a wet spot. This can be done by running your hand over the wall or by using a moisture meter. An infrared camera can be used as well to see where there are colder spots, that can indicate water leaks. You can also listen where you hear water dripping. Sometimes there is a bad smell in this area as well. 

Plumbers also have cameras that they can run through the drain. This can allow them to see where the issue is. If that didn’t work, they can use a smoke machine as well to see where the leak is located. It is often clear where the smoke gets out. This indicates the spot with the problem. Some plumbers also used colored water but this can lead to some damage so it is not always recommended. 

Some older baths have a hatch under them that you can open. It is possible that you have to break the wall open if this is not available. This can often be done with a multitool but it depends on the type of material that was used. If there are tiles, you might have to use a stronger tool. Before we do this, we can check other things though as opening a wall can create quite a lot of damage that is harder to install. 

Check the basics

Using silicone around a bathtub is essential. This will make sure that water doesn’t get in the hole between the bath and the wall. It is sometimes needed to renew this. If you see that the silicone is not completely filling the hole, you might consider adding new silicone. This is cheap and easy to do. Just take your time and make sure that the silicone fills the gaps completely. 

It is also possible that there is an issue around the water stopper. This can be removed by turning it around. There are special tools to remove this (called tub drain remover wrench).  Some have a screw in the middle as well. Once you have removed this, you can check if it needs some more sealant. This is done with plumber’s putty. This makes sure that water can’t flow between the tub and the stopper. Water doesn’t need a lot of space and the putty makes sure that we have a proper seal.  

This is also a great moment to clean the drain and get hairs and other dirt out of it. Wear gloves when you do this.  If this didn’t fix, the problem, we will have to take a look at the drain itself. 

Check if the bathtub is standing level. A crooked batch can leak water. Small drips build up over time so it is important that the tub is installed correctly to avoid damage to your bathroom.

Make sure that there is enough ventilation in the bathroom as condensation can lead to mold and other problems. This is often done with a bathroom fan.  

Fixing a Leaking Tub Drain:  How to remove a tub or shower drain

The first step to fixing a leaky bathtub drain is checking out what material the drain is made of. It is generally grey PVC but can be black PE as well. PE is harder to fix on your own as you need a welding machine to do it properly. Sometimes PP is used as well and this can be quite easy to fix as it contains a rubber ring. You just have to slide the ring over the drain. We will have to open up the wall under the tub or shower to get started.

The leak is often situated around the fitting (where 2 pieces are connected). If the drain is made out of PVC or ABS, we can simply use a saw to cut out a piece. Then we can use a fitting and some PVC glue to get a new piece of drain installed. Make sure that you follow the curing times that are discussed on the PVC glue.

The weather affects how long you should let it dry. Make sure to use the correct angle and diameter for the drain. Pieces of PVC pipe can be bought in your local hardware store. The main challenge is often repairing the drywall after you had to cut it open to get access to the drain. ABS is installed in a similar way as PVC and is glued as well.

Make sure that you add plumbers putty to the drain stopper and install the overflow properly. These last elements have to be installed properly to avoid further leaks.

Make sure to completely clean the area around the leak. Remove affected materials and throw them away. Make sure to wear protective equipment when you do this. Mold can grow in wet spots and this can be dangerous. It is often better to throw away too much material than not enough. This will make sure that you don’t have to open the drywall a second time to get rid of damaged items. 

If the hole is not too big, you can consider using a drywall patch. This is not ideal though as the damage might still be visible. In some instances, you will have to replace the drywall around the bath.


If you’ve been experiencing a slow or steady leak in your tub drain for a long time, you may want to consider hiring a plumber to replace the drain. For smaller leaks or for a DIY project that you’re confident you can do yourself, however, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money.

It is a problem that should be fixed as soon as possible. It can be challenging to find the source of the leak given that it can be located behind a wall. Once it has been located, it can be quite easy to fix. Repairing the damaged wall is often the biggest challenge.