Can't get Bathtub drain to seal

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mandjknight, Feb 9, 2006.

  1. mandjknight

    mandjknight New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I'm installing a new bathtub in my basement and having a very difficult time getting the tub drain to seal. It is just a standard 5' x 30" white bathtub (Aqua Glass brand). It is a newer home (2 years old).

    I had to slightly move the drain in the slab to accommodate the new tub and framed walls, but I'm fairly confident the drain is fine.

    I have the tub set in it's position and I am trying to thread in the chrome drain into the female ABS drain underneath the tub. I bought a standard tub drain kit from Home Depot. The kit came with a rubber gasket that to my knowledge goes between the ABS and the tub. I am then using Plumbers Putty on the drain and trying to thread it into the ABS.

    The problem is that every time I do this, I test the drain by filling the tub with some water (from a bucket) and it is leaking between the seal and the tub (where the plumbers putty should be sealing it off). I've tried it multiple times, each time trying slight variations of more or less Plumbers Putty and varying degrees of tightness. No matter what I do, I can't get it to seal.

    When I disassemble it, the plumbers putty always seems to be wedged on the underside of the tub between the rubber gasket and the underside of the tub. Much of this seems to come from the threading motion of the chrome drain into the ABS. I'm at a loss and quite frustrated because I'm trying to also finish off the adjacent bedroom but can't continue hanging drywall until I'm comfortable that this drain issue is resolved. Here are some pictures of the drain that will hopefully help you understand what I'm referring to:

    The drain showing the rope of plumbers putty that I'm putting on it:

    [​IMG]

    The tub drain package I purchased at Home Depot showing the assembly of parts. The rubber gasket in the picture is what I am putting on the underside of the tub. The ABS drain seems to be in the appropriate position and there is very little, if any gap, between the underside of the tub and the ABS. I have to wedge the rubber gasket in between the two.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a picture of the tub and the ABS female drain that I am threading the chrome drain in to. From my perspective, it seems like the drain is properly positioned (not askew to one side or the other).

    [​IMG]

    The chrome drain and the rubber gasket. I am putting the rubber gasket on the under side of the tub between the tub and the ABS. I am then using plumbers putty between the top surface of the tub and the chrome drain.

    [​IMG]
  2. brownizs

    brownizs In the Trades

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Springfield, IL
    Putty will not seal

    Try to get another person to help you hold the drain down, while attaching the plate on the bottom. You have to put a lot of putty between it and the tub on the top surface, then wait at least 24 hours to let it set before testing.

    I have the same problem with a porcelean sink, but it will hold for more then a minute, so I am not as worried as it would if it was the tub.
  3. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    Messages:
    450
    Location:
    Hawaii
    made up correctly you should be able to test it immediately. Don't use too much puddy, it will only sqeeze out in between the strainer and shoe. Make sure the shoe (the threaded part that goes underneath) sits squarely against the (washer) when you tighten the strainer into it.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    When doing tub drains I putty the chrome part (work it in your hands until it is very soft). I then put it in place on the chrome part and press down until it is about 90% into position and the putty has pushed out. I scrape off any putty that has pushed out the bottom of the tub. I then remove the chrome part, if necessary, and thread it into the shoe and complete the instlation. I can't remember the last time I had a leak.
  5. use lots of putty

    I dont care what others say,

    if you use a lot of putty ans simply let it squeeze out

    wherever it pleases you will probably do ok...


    It might not be a bad idea if you have a mean one to also

    grease up the threads and socket with some plumbers pipe dope

    for extra measure.....

    the pipe dope will help to seal the joint, especially when you got a
    mean one that does not want to play fair.


    and are you useing a tub wrench to tighten that drain shoe down

    into the drian tight enough?? Needle nose pliers wil work fine, but a

    tub prong or wrench really tightens it down better
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,032
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    Your first mistake is assuming the putty is the problem. The rubber gasket on the bottom seals the drain from leaking. The putty just prevents the water in the tub from leaking into the drain if the tub opening is uneven. If you did not care if the water eventually all drained from the tub with the plug closed, then you would not need the putty.
  7. Winslow

    Winslow Plumber

    Messages:
    450
    Location:
    Hawaii

    that is why it is important to make sure the tub shoe sits squarely up against the washer and bottom of the tub. Some puddy's are not as soft as others, sometimes if you use a less soft one and too much of it, it will squeeze down between the strainer and shoe (where the bottom washer is). It will feel tight and won't leak immediately, but eventually the excess puddy will squeeze out and the drain will leak. If you use dope, don't use an oil based one as it will eat the plastic drain. Use teflon based dope instead. If the shoe isn't sitting squarely then it can easily be cross threaded.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,032
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    I screw the drain part way into the fitting, and then squeeze the putty between the drain flange and tub before tightening it the rest of the way.
  9. mandjknight

    mandjknight New Member

    Messages:
    7
    First of all....thanks to all of you for the many responses.

    I've used varying amounts of puddy. The problem seems to be that when I use a liberal amount, it oozes out between the strainer and the rubber gasket and then the gasket doesn't seal against the bottom of the tub and that is where it is leaking. The other problem is that when I disassemble it (after discovering that it is leaking), there doesn't really seem to be much puddy at all between the chrome lip of the strainer and the surface of the tub. As a result, the water is just leaking under the lip of the strainer and then getting between the poor seal of the puddy and rubber gasket.

    I have just been using a large set of heavy-duty needle nose pliers to twist the strainer in. I was thinking of going down to Harbor Freight and picking up a cheap drain wrench if that will make the difference, but it sure seems tight the way I'm doing it.
  10. mandjknight

    mandjknight New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I'm trying to make sure I'm understanding your suggestion. Let my try and re-state and you tell me if I'm getting it right.

    You first put a rope of putty around the underside of the lip on the chrome strainer (as in my picture above).

    You then push this down through the hole in the tub (without threading it in to the shoe?) quite firmly until you get a sense for how much of the putty is going to ooze out of the edges.

    You then scrape off that excess putty, pull the strainer back out and remove any excess putty that has oozed out on the underside of the tub (where the rubber gasket goes?) and then proceed to thread the strainer into the shoe as normal?

    This seems to make sense, but the problem I am having is the threading motion. It seems to "twist" out all of the putty between the lip of the strainer and the tub surface.
  11. mandjknight

    mandjknight New Member

    Messages:
    7
    I think I understand your point. To test your theory, couldn't I just thread in the strainer into the shoe without any putty (using the rubber gasket on the underside) and see if doesn't leak?

    The problem is that it is not leaking into the drain. It is leaking out on to the cement floor under the drain. There does not seem to be a good seal between the rubber gasket and the tub, partly caused by the putty oozing between the gasket and the tub creating an uneven surface.

    When I look at the other tubs in my house, the chrome strainer seems to sit really tight and flush against the tub surface. No matter how tight I try to get this one there seems to be more of a gap/ridge between the surface of the tub and the lip on the strainer than I think is normal.
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Remove excess putty from under the tub without removing the strainer. Then, and only if the shoe and gasget can't be put on without removing the strainer, remove the strainer and install the shoe.

    The putty "twisting out" is normal.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,032
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    If it leaks without the putty, it will also leak with putty. There is little putty under the flange, because it only takes a small amount to keep the water from leaking past the flange, and then through the threads into the drain fitting. The rubber gasket is your only seal to prevent the drain from leaking outside the tub. You may have to use a thicker gasket, or two of them to make the gap even and seal the fitting to the tub
  14. shacko

    shacko Master Plumber-Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    561
    Location:
    Rosedale, Md
    Tub sealing

    You don't use a lot of putty on a tub drain, you use it on the strainer, but any excess that protrudes where the so-called rubber washer goes should be removed, Luck.
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