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Bathtub Faucet Won’t Turn Off: What to Do

By April 7, 2021Plumbing
Bathtub faucet won't turn off: What to do

You just came in from a hard day at work and you are ready to get into your oasis to soak. The water is at the level you need and you turn the bathtub faucet. However, the bathtub faucet won’t turn off! Don’t panic, but if the bathtub faucet won’t turn off, shut off the water supply in the home. What could cause this to happen? Let’s find out how to turn the main water supply off, and what the causes could be for this to happen. Also, some home maintenance while you are investigating these areas, and when to call a professional.

Why You Need to Know What to Do If the Bathtub Faucet Won’t Turn Off

In a situation like the above, you need to know where the main water shut-off valve is located. In homes with a basement, it is usually located on an interior wall near the front of the house and close to where the water meter would be. However, if your home is built on a slab, the main water shut-off valve is usually located in the garage near the hot water heater or it may be in the yard. Also, turning off the water supply is essential to avoid flooding the home.

Bathtub faucet won't turn off: Causes

The Bathtub Faucet Won’t Turn Off: Causes

Valves Need Replacing

The valves control the flow of the water and when they wear out, often they need replacing. Contacting a professional is recommended as the valves will need to be taken out of the wall and replaced. This is not an easy task for someone who is unfamiliar with this type of plumbing issue.

The Faucet Handle is Damaged

Sometimes the problem is the handle is damaged. This handle has a stem in the inside and allows the water to flow up through the faucet and then out into the bathtub. However, if the handle is cracked, it won’t grip the stem and you won’t be able to turn the water off so replacing is the only choice.

Bathtubs that have two handles are easier to take off and replace. More modern handles though maybe a little more tricky. If you need help, contact a professional to help you.

Steps for Fixing the Faucet

1.    Grab gloves and goggles to be safe before you start working.

2.    Make sure the valve to the main water supply is turned off. As stated earlier, this is either in your basement or garage.

3.    Have your phone with you and take a picture of the faucet and handles. This is because it will be easier to explain to the plumber the problem. In addition, it will be helpful for you to find replacement handles at the local hardware store or go on Amazon.

4.    Grab a flat-blade screwdriver and pry underneath the cover plate and reveal the handle screw. Use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten the handle screw.

5.    Turn the valve to the water main back on and turn the faucet on and off to see if this fixed the issue. Yes? awesome! If not, bummer, and keep reading!

Fixing the faucet didn't work next temporarily fix the stem

Fixing the Faucet Didn’t Work? Next, Temporarily Fix the Stem

1.    Turn off the main water supply again. Remove the handle by turning it to the right and it should come off the stem. You may need to use a wrench or a gentle pull for this to happen.

2.    Look at the faucet stem for any issues. In the stem are ridges and if the ridges are worn down, then there is nothing to grab a hold of the faucet.

3.    Use an old toothbrush and clean out the debris and any deposits and wipe the stem dry.

4.    You will need thread seal tape and wrap a couple of layers around the valve stem tip. Then, take the handle and press it in over the stem through the tape. Another way is to just rotate the handle over the stem and allow it to lock into place.

5.    Remember this is just a temporary fix and may last a month or up to 2 years, but you will need to replace the faucet handle.

While you are working on a fix for the faucet handle, you might have other home improvement ideas that pop into your head. There are also other maintenance issues you can tackle such as:

Other maintenance in the bathroom

Other Maintenance in the Bathroom

Sink Trap

You might find that there is a stench coming from the drain in the tub. This can be the P trap is dry and as a result, is allowing the sewer gases to escape. You will want to fix this right away.

Mold Growing in the Bathtub

This would also be a good time to clean the bathtub well. Look at the white silicone, do you see mold growing on it? Take the time to clean this before it becomes worse and see if there is a leak near it that needs to be recaulked.


Check the floor near the toilet and see if it leaks any water at the base there could be a loose seal or caulking that you need to fix.

When to Call a Professional

Call a professional if you aren’t sure why the bathtub faucet won’t turn off or need plumbing services. It could be a number of reasons as listed above, but you can always consult a professional for help. 


It can be frustrating not being able to turn off the water in the bathtub and having to shut off the main water supply. With this in mind, try the steps above or consult a professional for help. We take a look at bathtub and bathroom faucets when we are conducting home inspections in New Hampshire and Southern Maine.

Think you might need one of our services? Comment below!