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Instructions for replacing the overflow of a tub drain

Water drains from your bathtub through two channels: the main drain and the overflow. The overflow is located behind the cover that is placed directly above the tub drain and below the faucet. Over time, the overflow drain can corrode or become clogged with hair and other debris that enters the drain with the water. If the main drain is working properly and is in good condition, you can replace the overflow only.

Remove the cover of the overflow drain

Loosen the screws on the overflow drain cover with a screwdriver. Remove the cover and set it aside. The overflow cover is usually located directly above the plug that drains water from the bottom of the tub.

Open the access hole

Open the access hole so you can see the pipes behind the tub. This is usually located on the wall behind the tub pipes. If there is no access hole, locate the studs in the wall using a stud finder.

Mark the position of the studs

Mark the location of the studs on the bottom of the wall with a pencil, then use a drywall saw to cut an opening between those lines. Try to keep the cut as clean as possible so you can put the panel back in place, and cut so the stud is visible behind the drywall.

Loosen the slip nut

Loosen the slip nut that holds the overflow pipe to the drain tee by turning the nut counterclockwise with locking pliers. If the nut will not turn, put a drop of light lubricating oil on the nut and let it sit for a few minutes. This should make it easier to turn.

Lifting out the overflow tube

Lift the overflow pipe out of the drain tee. It should be possible to lift the overflow pipe straight out of the fitting.

Measuring and cutting

Measure the length of the overflow pipe from the bent section to the base of the straight section and cut the new overflow pipe to the same size using a hacksaw.

Slide on the nut and bushing

Slide the slip nut and bushing that should be included with the new overflow pipe over the end of the straight section.

Position the pipe

Insert the end of the straight section of the overflow pipe into the T-piece of the wastewater drain.

Turn the pipe

Turn the overflow pipe so that the opening on the bent end faces the opening of the tub overflow.

Push and tighten

Slide the bushing and then the union nut onto the top of the wastewater drain tee and tighten the union nut with locking pliers. As you tighten the nut, it will push the bushing against the tee, creating a watertight connection.

Position the new overflow cover

Place the new overflow cover against the bathtub overflow opening and align the screw holes. Insert the screws into the drain cover mounting holes and secure with a screwdriver.

Check for leaks

Fill your tub with water to just above the overflow cover and check the pipes behind the tub for leaks. Tighten the union nut if necessary and then drain the tub.

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