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Thread: Common tub spout sealing question

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    Default Common tub spout sealing question

    The tub spout on my tub/shower enclosure has migrated about 1/8 inch away from the wall over time. Now water enters the wall by running down from the shower (but not when the spout is running so the spout is sealed well at the nipple). Looking into the gap, I can see that the copper pipe is narrower than the hole in the enclosure where it enters the wall. The spout is old and has corroded itself onto the nipple so that I can't seem to turn it without putting enormous torque on the pipe (how hard should I try before using a saw?).

    1. Should I use caulking or something on the gap between the spout base and the enclosure?
    2. Is there a way to seal the hole in the enclosure around the pipe without removing the spout (which won't come off)?
    3. More of a comment than question: seems odd that simply snugging up the spout to the enclosure wall is relied on so heavily for these setups.
    Last edited by BrianZ; 03-27-2011 at 08:35 AM.

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Does the spout move in and out if you tug/push on it? If so, it was not secured with a drop ear or came loose over time. If it moves, I would open the wall on the other side and put in proper blocking to strap the pipe to. As for sealing, put a bead of silicone arounnd it, leaving a small gap at 6:00 O'Clock before you cinch up the pipe strap from behind.

    Since it's been leaking, I would open up the wall from behind anyway to dry it out and mitigate any mold issue.

    Are you sure the spout is threaded on? Some are held in place by a set screw on the bottom.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    It doesn't seem very loose but if I push on it with a lot of force I can get it almost flush.

    For mold I've been letting it dry passively for a month but it probably did develop some dried up mold. The water dripped down into the ceiling of the room below so it seems like a big job. Would I have to replace the wood? There is a closet adjacent to the shower so I could possibly open the wall.

    There is no set screw, just an opening at 6:00 O'clock. Looking in the spout end I can see threads (coated with mineral deposits).

    I'll try the silicon seal for now.

    Thanks for your reply!
    Last edited by BrianZ; 03-27-2011 at 08:28 AM.

  4. #4
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Ja, since the other side of the wall is a closet, I would cut in an access panel and clear up any mold and adjust the blocking to close the gap.

    If you have an old tube of silicone seal, throw it away and buy a fresh tube. They do have an expiration date. Make sure to get mold resistant silicone.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    Ok, I'll check the dates. Can I put silicone on now as a temporary fix or will that interfere with getting it flush later on? Also, for mold should I use some kind of spray on 'mold remover'.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    If you put a temporary bead over the top half and not mush it too deep into the gap, you would be able to remove the bead and redo it later when you open the wall. If you mush too much of it down into the gap, you won't be able to remove it easily and it will prevent the gap from being closed later.

    I'll leave the mold question to the experts here. Whatever you do, do not make it airborne by removing by mechanical means and a shop vac.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    The spout is hollow so I don't think silicone will be trapped under it that much. Now I need to find out how to do all the sheetrock work.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    They make acess panels for reno work to cover the cutout. Just paint it to match. I've seen where some people will just cover the cutout with a cold air return grill but if considering that make sure you are not violating fire code WRT fire stops.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If it's only an 1/8", I would caulk it.
    What you have is a thread on spout, and sometimes they don't flush up.
    Just use a clear caulk that doesn't show when it's dry.

    If you consider replacing the spout, then Delta makes the best one for you.
    You can use a threaded nipple into their adapter and get the spout as close as you want.
    I don't know why you would want to go into the wall for this, unless your valve now is not supported at all.

    Last edited by Terry; 04-18-2011 at 11:12 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    Clear caulk sounds good (still silicone?), not opening the wall sounds even better, though there was some discussion of doing something about potential mold in there. Replacing the spout would be good too but it doesn't seem like it wants to come off.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Oh, they come off all right.
    It may be a worthless mess when you're done with it though. That's why I have a new one on hand.

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    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    Ok, Ill try a clear silicone seal for now. If that doesn't work I'll think about wrenching off the old one and taking the debris to the store to find a new one.

  13. #13
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    The question becomes why is there now a gap when there was none before and how much movement is there that could potentially break the seal? You said you can close the gap by pushing on the spout but you didn't say how much force it takes to widen the gap by pulling on it. Some people tend to use the spout like a grab bar when getting in or out of the tub or when cleaning it.

    You say the nipple looks to be copper and that the threads appear to be coated with mineral deposits. It could well be corrosion from the dielectric properties of dissimilar metals but the threads on the other end of the nipple should not have suffered the same fate.

    Terry says that 1/2" increments on nipples are just fine and all it takes is old fashioned muscle (that only good plumbers possess) to close the gap. Could well be that lots of muscle was used to put that spout on.

  14. #14
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Don't even waste your time at the hardware store. They don't carry the good Delta Spouts there.
    The bean counters have decided you won't pay that much, so your choices there are dismal. My daughter was going to replace a three year old spout with one of those big box spouts, sharp pull out diverter that would leave a mark if the kids started playing around in the tub; my grand daughers use this tub. I brought over the nice rounded Delta and made sure the kids were safe.

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    DIY Junior Member BrianZ's Avatar
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    I'll look into the deltas for replacement.

    In terms of the gap I can push it flush then it bounces back to 1/8".

    The spout is on tight. I haven't tried a wrench on it just hand pressure so far.

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