How to Replace a Leaky Shower Drain

Is your shower drain broken? Does your shower leak a little bit onto the floor? You should never ignore a leaky drain. Water damage is insidious and can rapidly deteriorate your home if left alone. While we offer expert drain repair services in Olympia, Washington, many DIY homeowners have successfully repaired their own drains.

First, we need to determine if your drain or the pipe is leaking. Remove the drain cover or lid, and use a funnel to bypass the drain and pour water directly into the pipe. If there are no signs of a leak, we know that the drain is leaking.

Is the water leaking through the stopper or plunger and going into the drain? If your bathtub is simply not holding water for a bath, a fix may be as simple as replacing an O-ring on the stop plunger.

If water is leaking out of the tub or shower and into the bathroom or floors below, and you’ve determined that it isn’t the pipe itself, then the part that is leaking is the drain itself and its connection to the tub. Read the remaining steps to learn how to replace your tub drain.

How to Repair or Replace a Shower Drain

Do you have a leak in your shower or bathtub? When you start seeing water pooling in a nearby closet or wet stains in a drywall ceiling, it’s important to investigate promptly. There could be a crack in the tub, a broken tub drain seal, or a broken shower drain, allowing water to leak.

The drain is everything connected from the tub, the drain flipper or switch (which usually doubles as the overfill safety drain), down to the piping below the shower or tub.

How to Replace a Shower Drain

Replacing a shower drain can be a simple task once the problem is identified and the steps are broken down. First, you’ll need to determine which part is leaking and proceed from there.

1. How to Access the Shower Drain

The plumbing for your shower or tub resides within the wall behind your faucet and drain. An access panel or cover will often give access to the wall interior and plumbing. Think about what space is adjoined to your shower faucet. It will usually be a closet in the bathroom itself or a closet in the neighboring room.

If there isn’t an access panel, you’ll have to cut your way into the drywall to access the plumbing. You can buy an access panel cover to hide the hole to allow for future entry.

2. Determine What Drain You Have

Trip levers include the foot lock, roller ball, and lift and turn drains, which are the drains with the pop-up and plunger stopper drains.

Each will have its own installation guidelines provided by the manufacturer, but we’ll continue describing the general process of replacing your shower drain.

3. Verify the Source of the Leak

To find out if the seal in the tub is leaking or if the drain is leaking from within the wall plumbing, you’ll have to run a test. Disconnect the tub from the drain. Then, pour some water down the drain using a funnel.

If you don’t see signs of leakage from the drain, the leak may be coming from a worn bathtub drain seal. It could be the gasket in the seal has deteriorated, the plumber’s putty has a leak, or the drain has corroded.

4. Replacing the Drain Flange/Drain Seal

If you determine that the shower drain flange is leaking, the gasket and plumber’s putty will need to be replaced. If it is not the flange, skip to step five.

First, remove the shower drain’s pop-up stopper or lid. It might be a twist-off, hidden Philips screw, or hidden lug nut pop-up drain stopper. Once the stopper is removed, remove the pin by unscrewing it with a wrench.

Next, you’ll take a pop-up plug wrench to unscrew the drain flange itself. Pull out the flange and inspect the gasket. The gasket fits between the drain hole and the drain fitting. If the gasket is bent, cut, or damaged, replace it.

Clean the shower drain body and remove any grime or rust. Then, install a new gasket and reinstall the drain body. When replacing the flange, you need a strong seal. Use plenty of plumber’s putty underneath the flange.

When you screw the flange back in, the putty will squeeze out. Remove any excess putty from around the edges and let the putty set.

5. Remove the Leaky Parts

With the drain exposed, you should see where it is leaking from. There is usually some discoloration in the area of the leak. The drain body, strainer body, or gasket can be removed with pliers, while a screwdriver is needed to remove the strainer.

6. Repair or Replace the Drain

A shower drain repair kit can be purchased at a home improvement store. It will have instructions that will show you how to disassemble and repair the shower drain.

Usually, it’s only necessary to fix the parts that are broken. You can combine old and new parts if they fit together. If the entire drain needs to be replaced, swap out all the old parts for the new ones so there are no more leaks.

7. Test the Repaired or Replaced Drain

Turn on the water lightly while observing how it flows into the drain. Then, check the pipes below the shower (in the basement or on a lower floor) to see if there’s any leakage.

Ceilings that have water stains should be repaired. Cut away the affected section and replace it with a piece of drywall and drywall mud. This eliminates damage caused by the leak and lets you find and mitigate other potential issues, such as mold.

Black Hills Plumbing Services in Olympia and Thurston County, Washington

If you have questions about shower drain repair or aren’t comfortable taking on such a job yourself, our experienced technicians can help. We offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and are licensed and bonded, so the customer assumes no risk when we work.

If you have an emergency, you can count on us 24/7. Request service online or call us directly at 888-538-5821 for help.