Leaking bathtub overflow tube

An easy fix that doesn’t involve tearing out the ceiling in the room below the bathtub

As a home inspector in the Stillwater area, I make it a point to check the overflow tube for leaks. It used to involve filling the tub all the way to the rim, and checking for leaks behind the tub or the ceiling of the room below the bathroom.

But that was before the incident.

It’s kind of surprising how much damage a small amount of water can do.

So now I follow a procedure. While filling the tub, I look for an access panel. It’s usually in a closet behind the tub, (unless the plumbing is exposed, of course).

After opening the panel, I simply splash water from the faucet against the overflow with my hand. If the gasket is old and cracked, a little water will be visible. And a little is enough to cause some real damage.

Fortunately, the fix is very easy!

Using a screwdriver, remove the screw(s) holding the cover onto the tube from the tub side. You might need a small knife to cut away any caulk, and the gasket might need some help being removed.

Then bring the gasket to the hardware store, to make sure the replacement is the right size.

Be sure to clean the tub/pipe connection well. Then put the new gasket in place, and replace the cover and screw(s).  Tighten the screw only enough to feel the gasket start to compress. Finish by caulking around the top of the overflow plate to avoid future leaks and keep the trim looking nice.