In this guide, I will show you how to remove tub spout without set screw and also how to remove a tub spout that’s stuck and get back to enjoying your relaxing or refreshing bath at home!
You may have noticed when you went to draw yourself a bath after a long day of work. Maybe you noticed when you were trying to get your kids to wash up before dinner.
Or maybe it came to your attention in the midst of repair work. There are any number of ways you might have realized that your tub’s spout is stuck, but that still begs the question – why, and what are you going to do about it?
After all, you have to do something. Neither you nor anyone around you is going to be pleased if you give up bathing. Let’s take a closer look at how this happens, why, and what you can do to remove the spout and fix the problem long-term.
The most common reason for tub spouts sticking in place is that corrosion has occurred. This is why, even if you apply a fair amount of force, you often can’t get tub spouts to budge.
(It’s also why you shouldn’t try to force them – doing so will only result in breaking the spout, your tiling, or both.)
There are many reasons why your tub’s spout may be stuck like this, with rust resulting from water damage and calcification being the most common.
How To Remove Tub Spout (Without Set Screw)
To start with, it’s important that you identify what kind of spout you have. If the base of your faucet has a small hole at the end, chances are it is a slip-on.
These are typically installed by being set over a tub’s copper piping and secured in place with a setscrew underneath, hence the small hole at the bottom.
By contrast, screw-on spouts won’t have these retaining setscrews and are instead screwed more directly onto the tub. If you see connecting screws, it’s a screw on. If you don’t, it’s a slip-on.
Once you have determined the type of faucet you have, you can start to take more concrete steps in terms of actually removing it. If your tub spout is a screw-on, you should be able to remove it by removing the screws and simply twisting it free.
However, as mentioned above, if your tub spout is old, has suffered rust and water damage, or is otherwise corroded, you may need to resort to a pair of pliers.
However, as stated above, you shouldn’t force the spout free. The pliers should simply help you remove a tub spout that is a bit stubborn, not rip one out of the wall.
Screw-on faucets can sometimes be especially stubborn because of internal threading within the spout, or because they have been caulked onto the wall.
If the latter is the case, you’ll need to scrape away any excess caulk before removing it. Be sure to proceed with caution when doing so, lest you accidentally poke a hole in the faucet.
On the other hand, if your screw-on is attached to the wall via copper-threaded fitting, you’ll want to cut that threading away first with a wire cutter that is suitable for cutting through tubing. Once you have achieved this, rotate the spout free of the copper piping.
If you are working with a slip-on spout, take the screw at the bottom, which should be holding the faucet in place, and start turning it clockwise, again taking care not to strip the screw or damage the piping.
Once you have removed the screw, you should be able to pull the spout free with another strong twist. As with a screw-on spout, you need to be gentle so as not to damage the internal workings of the pipe.
If the initial pressure you apply doesn’t work, again, don’t force it – there may be copper threads inside the pipe connected to the spout that are holding it in place.
If you try and rip it free, you’ll cause damage to this or even destroy the entire spout or piping system.
Instead, get your wire tubing cutter out again (or even a hacksaw, if necessary) and cut through this thread cleanly. Once you have done that, twist counterclockwise.
Alternatively, you can try and wedge the faucet a bit by inserting a screw into the spout’s opening and using that as extra leverage while twisting it free.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
As mentioned, caked-on caulk, calcification, corrosion, a buildup of minerals, and similar issues can cause the spout to stick in place.
If a simple scrape of a knife doesn’t do the trick, try wedging a putty knife or similar tool in between the spout and the wall. Once again, you’ll want to make sure you don’t damage the internal workings of the pipe.
If your spout isn’t attached with copper threading, it may instead be fastened in place with a brass adapter. If so, you’ll need to be extra careful.
Wiggle the spout gently after you have removed the necessary bits, and then start to twist it. Sometimes, the caulk is so thick as to make it hard to chisel away.
If that’s the case, you may be able to get help from an unexpected source – your hairdryer. Its heat, when aimed directly at the caulk, may be able to help it expand.
The same is true for your faucet itself. Work gloves should be worn so as to protect you from the heat of the faucet as well as any potential of electrical shock.
Maybe it isn’t caulk but calcification that is your biggest obstacle. If so, vinegar may be able to help. Soak a paper towel with some vinegar and wrap it around the spout where the calcification is prominent.
If you have already removed the spout, you can also try dipping it in vinegar so as to remove any calcification that may be clinging to it. When reattaching everything, it is important to make sure that you have everything lined up again properly.
The last thing you want is to realize too late that you’ve attached the spout at a crooked angle, causing you to have to detach it and start all over again.
As the saying goes, “measure twice, mark once.” It may thus be helpful to have some masking tape handy to help outline the area so you know exactly where to place the spout when you reattach it.
While you have the spout free, you’ll also want to clean it out. Some soap and water or, as mentioned above, vinegar can be helpful here.
Finally, it’s no secret that plumbing systems don’t exactly smell like roses, so there’s a possibility that detaching the spout from the pipe can unleash a nasty ooze or odor.
If so, you’ll want to stop up the hole and drain to stop it from spreading. (A bit of deodorizer after you’re done probably wouldn’t hurt, either.)
Detaching a spout from the tub can be hard work. However, by following this step-by-step guide on how to remove tub spout, you can get the job done a lot faster and with a lot less hassle.
There are several DIY tricks you can use to make the job go more smoothly. Once you have finished, you should be able to reattach and have trust in your tub’s spout and plumbing system once more.
Hello, my name is David Zal and I’m a plumber with more than 20 years of experience based in Englewood (Florida). I like to teach normal people how to make easy fixes in their homes. I believe that a lot can be achieved just with DYI and that’s why I started this blog.