Basic Tub Spout Types Reference Information
Bathtub spouts may need to be replaced for a few common reasons:
- the diverter can get worn out so that it no longer blocks the water flow to divert the water to the showerhead
- the threads that connect the spout to the pipe can corrode or crack allowing water to trickle along the pipe and drip inside the wall causing damage
- the finish on the spout can corrode or flake off or the finish may just need updating if you decide to change any of the other fixtures in the bathroom
Replacement is usually the best option for each of those issues and it is fairly simple. Before replacing your tub spout, you will need to determine which type of tub spout you have and what kind you will need to replace it. There are two basic types of tub spouts: diverter style that allows you to send the flow of the water to either the tub spout or the shower with a diverter right on the tub spout and non-diverter style that flows only from the tub spout into the tub. Within those two types are different attachment options: slip-on with setscrew or the threaded type.
How To Determine What Type of Tub Spout You Already Have
- Grab a flashlight and look beneath the tub spout while it still attached to the wall. If you can see a tiny screw on the underside of the spout, you have a slip-on tub spout with a set screw.
- If there is no set screw, you have a threaded tub spout. You can remove your tub spout by twisting it counter-clockwise to see how your existing spout is threaded, if desired, but it is recommended you leave the spout on if you might need to use the tub before your new spout arrives.
A slip-on style bathtub spout will have a setscrew, which is a small screw located on the bottom of the tub spout. The slip-fit tub spout is designed to slip onto a 1/2" copper pipe without the use of any threads. The end of the copper that will be used must be free of burrs or rough edges, when using this type of spout.
A threaded tub spout will not have a setscrew, and will twist off of the nipple or pipe. This style will either be a front-end threaded tub spout or a rear-end threaded tub spout.
- A front end threaded tub spout can be used with either a tub valve without a shower, or with a tub valve that has a shower diverter built into the tub valve.
- The wall end spout (also called "rear-threaded" spout) offers added convenience because it can be connected to a tub spout stub-out nipple (1/2" or 3/4") at the wall end of the spout with a Celcon bushing. Rear threaded spouts can be used for either new or remodeling construction. Several models are available with a conventional diverter near the wall, or with a specialized outlet attachment that allow for the use of hand-held showers or riser tubs for exposed showers.
- A telescoping spout is also a type of threaded bathtub spout which provides flexibility for many installation applications by allowing an adjustment, usually up to 1", to be made for the finished wall. The telescoping spout attaches to either a 1/2" or 3/4" nipple with a Celcon bushing.
Tub Spouts with Brass Adapters - Threaded or Slip-on
- Some tub spouts may look like a threaded spout but in fact thread onto a brass adapter that is installed onto the pipe.
- There are two types of brass adapters, either a 1/2" IPS (iron pipe size) threaded adapter or a 1/2" nominal inside diameter (CTS) slip-on adapter, depending on the type of tub spout originally purchased. Some brass adapters are made with 1/2" IPS (iron pipe size) threaded adapter with a sweat 1/2" nominal inside diameter (CTS) slip-on fitting beyond the female threads.
- The 1/2" IPS threaded adapter can be threaded onto galvanized, brass, stainless steel and other pipes with NPT (National Pipe Thread Taper) threads. These particular adapters can also be used on copper tubing by sweating the adapter onto the copper pipe. The copper pipe is pushed into the adpater, through the threads, where a smooth snug slip fitting is located.
- The 1/2" nominal inside diameter (CTS) slip-on adapter slides over the copper tubing and is secured to the copper pipe by tightening the set screw, or can be sweat/soldered to the pipe.
- Once the brass adapter is secured to the pipe the tub spout is threaded onto the adapter. The tub spout itself has a plastic inner core with coarse threads to match the brass adapter male threads, allowing the tub spout to have room for adjustment forward or backwards determined by the position of the adapter on the pipe.
Bathtub Spouts Removal and Installation Help
Check out our helpful video explaining the various types of tub spouts and tricks for installation, or keep reading for more detailed instructions.
View video tutorial
How To Install Tub Spouts
How to Remove a Slip-On Tub Spout
Step 1: Remove any caulking around the wall end of the tub spout with a putty knife or razor.
Step 2: Locate the setscrew, which is typically located on the underside of the spout, close to the wall. They are often very small so you may find it helpful to use a flashlight to locate the screw.
Step 3: Determine which tool you will need to remove the screw; most will require a hex/Allen wrench, some may use a small Philips head or flathead screwdriver. Loosen the screw, being careful not to drop it down the drain.
Helpful Hint: Place a washcloth over the tub drain before loosening the setscrew to keep the screw from falling down the drain.
Step 4: Once the setscrew is loose, use both hands to pull the tub spout straight out, away from the wall. If it's been there for a while it may be a bit stubborn. If so, you can try turning the spout slightly as you pull.
Quick Tips: Before turning the spout, make sure the setscrew is loosened completely. If the setscrew is still tightened onto the pipe while turning the spout, you are likely to damage the pipe coming from the wall. If it's really stubborn, you can insert a screwdriver or a wrench into the tub spout opening for leverage, and turn the spout to loosen it. However, try not to wiggle the spout and pipe because too much jarring may cause problems with the plumbing in the wall.
How to Install a Slip-On Tub Spout
Step 1: Check to make sure the pipe coming from the wall is the correct size. For slip-on tub spouts, your copper pipe should be a minimum 1" and a maximum 2-7/8" in length, depending on the tub spout. Refer to the manufacturer's specifications prior to purchasing and installing to ensure you have the appropriate length for your spout. If your pipe is shorter than the minimum length, you may need an adapter to make your new spout fit. If it is longer, you may need to cut the pipe slightly.
Step 2: Clean off the pipe coming from the wall if there is any build-up on the pipe. If there are burrs or rough spots on the end, use sandpaper to make the pipe smooth.
Step 3: Slide the tub spout on the pipe until the tub spout meets the wall. Then secure the spout by tightening the setscrew.
How to Remove a Threaded Tub Spout
Step 1: Use a large pipe wrench to remove the spout by securing the wrench over the tub spout and turning it counterclockwise to loosen. Removing a threaded tub spout really is as easy as just unscrewing it!
How to Install a Threaded Tub Spout
Step 1: Make sure that your new spout is the same length as your old one to avoid having to adjust the pipes or use an adapter.
- If you have a FRONT-END threaded spout, measure from the wall to the end of the nipple to get the appropriate size.
- If you have a WALL-END threaded spout, your threaded nipple should be a maximum 1/2" in length.
- If you have a TELESCOPING threaded spout, your nipple should be a maximum 1-3/8" in length.
Step 3: Apply some silicone caulking around the edge of the where the pipe meets the wall to prevent water from dripping behind the spout and into the shower wall.
Step 4: Thread the spout onto the pipe, start off slowly so as not to cross threads. Tighten until snug and be sure to line up the spout vertically with the rest of the fixtures.
How to Remove a Brass Adapter Slip-On Style Tub Spout
Step 1: Remove any caulking around the wall end of the tub spout with a putty knife or razor.
Step 2: Unscrew the tub spout in a counterclockwise rotation until the tub spout is removed off of the brass adapter.
Step 3: Use a 1/8" hex/Allen wrench and un tighten the Allen screw counterclockwise. The Allen screw does not need to be removed all of the way out of the brass adapter, just loosened enough to allow the brass adapter to slide off of the copper pipe.
Helpful Hint: Place a washcloth over the tub drain before loosening the set-screw to keep the screw from accidentally falling down the drain.
Step 4: Once the set-screw is loose, use both hands to pull the brass adapter straight out, away from the wall. If it's been there for a while it may be a bit stubborn. If so, you can try turning the brass adapter slightly to the left or right as you pull.
Special Note: If your piping is copper and you can not find a set screw and you can see the copper pipe is pushed inside the brass adapter, beyond any internal female threads the brass adapter may have, then the brass adapter was soldered onto the copper tubing. Some brass adapters have 1/2" female pipe threads and are designed with a sweat fitting past the threads. A torch will be needed to heat the brass adapter to loosen the solder. In this situation you will need to use a pair of insulated long handled pliers to hold the brass adapter while you are heating it in order to remove it without burning your hand. Have a pan of cold water ready to put the brass adapter into in order to cool it off.
How to Install a Brass Adapter (with set screw) Slip-On Style Tub Spout
Step 1: Make sure the pipe coming out from the wall is 1/2" Nominal (inside diameter) 5/8" outside diameter and protrudes from the finished wall surface 2" to 4". Make sure the tube does not have dents, deep scratches, kinks or bends. These could prevent the adapter from properly connecting to the tube. The cut off end of the tube must also be free from burrs inside and out, and the edge must not be rolled inward from a dull tubing cutter.
Step 2: Push the brass adapter onto the tube so that the threaded end touches the finished wall surface. Tighten the set screw until brass adapter is secure and unable to be rotated on the pipe. Caution: over tightening the set screw can dent the tube.
Step 3: Hand tighten the tub spout onto the brass adapter. Be careful not to damage the o-ring on the outside of the brass adapter. Tighten the tub spout until the spout touches the finished wall surface.
Step 4: Tighten the spout a minimum of one additional turn or until all slack is taken up between the tub spout and the wall.
How to Install a Sweat/Solder Brass Adapter Style Tub Spout
Step 1: Make sure the pipe coming out from the wall is 1/2" Nominal (inside diameter) 5/8" outside diameter and protrudes from the finished wall surface approximately 3-1/2". Make sure the tube does not have dents, deep scratches, kinks or bends. These could prevent the adapter from properly connecting to the tube. The cut off end of the tube must also be free from burrs inside and out, and the edge must not be rolled inward from a dull tubing cutter.
Step 2: Remove the O-ring from the brass adapter.
Step 4: Apply flux to the pipe and to the inside of the brass adapter and slip the brass adapter onto the pipe so that the threaded end (wall side) is between 1/2" to 1-1/4" away from the finished wall surface.
Step 5: Apply heat and solder adapter to the pipe. Place the heat source where you want the solder to flow to. Take care to keep solder away from the o-ring groove and the adjacent outside diameter of the groove.
Step 6: Cool adapter and pipe with water or wet rag and make sure the o-ring groove is clean.
Step 7: Cut any excess copper pipe so the copper pipe is not longer than 3-1/2" from the finished wall
Step 8: Put the O-ring back into the groove on the brass adapter.
Step 9: Hand tighten the tub spout onto the brass adapter. Be careful not to damage the o-ring on the outside of the brass adapter. Tighten the tub spout until the spout is firmly against the finished wall surface. There should not be any space left between the spout and the wall.
How to Install a 1/2" Threaded Brass Adapter Style Tub Spout
Step 1: Install a 1/2" iron pipe sized nipple so the end of the nipple projects out from the finished wall surface between 1/2" and 1-1/4"
Step 3: Hand tighten adapter onto pipe nipple. Finish tightening the adapter with a standard pipe wrench, approximately 3 turns, until snug. Do not over tighten. Take caution to not damage the O-ring or the o-ring groove. The back of the brass adapter (male outside thread portion) must not project more than 1" from the finished wall surface.
Note: If your pipe nipple projects out the maximum of 1-1/4" as described in step 1, the brass adapter will thread on approximately 1/2" leaving the back of the brass adapter less than a 1" projection from the wall.
Step 4: Thread the tub spout onto the brass adapter hand tight. Take care to not damage the O-ring on the brass adapter. Continue to hand tighten the tub spout until the spout is firmly against the finished wall surface. There should not be any space left between the spout and the wall.