I consider myself a pretty handy guy, but I can't figure out what I'm doing
wrong. Over the past couple years, I've replaced 3 sink strainers in
stainless steel sinks, a drain in a bathroom sink, and am now trying to
replace the drain in my bathtub.
I have the recurring problem of leaks - due to the plumber's putty around
the flange on the top side of the drains. I've tried using a lot of putty,
i've tried a little putty. I've tried as tight as I can turn, and I've
tried just snug. They drip about a dozen times before I get them right. I
use all the correct washers on the underside.
What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? I've heard of using silicon
instead of putty. Should I go this route? I need to be sure I get the
bathroom leak fixed because a new drywall ceiling is going to cover it when
I can't recall ever having a leak when using plumber's putty, clean surfaces
and quality parts.
Other than the 2 questions above (clean and quality) I will pose the
following for your consideration:
How old is the putty you are using? Is it fresh and tacky out of the tub or
dry and stiff? You won't normally get a quality product at the big box
stores and the stuff doesn't keep long term. Even with the fresh stuff it is
good to work it in your hand until it is warm an pliable.
Are you allowing the drain to twist in the opening while tightening down the
nut? This should be avoided. The top of the drain should not turn as it is
The silicone may work. I have never tried it.
If the "leak" is coming from the bottom of the sink where
the drain tailpiece comes out, the problem is *not* the
putty on the flange. If the putty does not seal there,
the only result will be that water in the bowl will slowly
drain out (no visible "leak").
What is happening is that water draining from the sink
escapes either where the rubber Mack washer seals the
tailpiece to the sink bottom or the water is finding a path
out by spiraling around the threads.
The fix is to use sealant on both sides of the rubber
Mack washer AND use sealant on the threads where they
pass thru the washer. I like silicone (RTV) sealant
for this purpose. Works well on the drain flange up top
too and avoids the risk of putty staining a "cultured"
Thanks for the quick replies.
Yes the surfaces are clean.
I have not let the putty cure. My plumbing book doesn't mention it, nor do
the instructions on the putty. How long does this take? It is
non-hardening, so what takes place during the "curing"?
It is brand new putty. Not dry at all.
It seems like most, if not all, the putty squeezes out when tightened. The
twisting is unavoidable in this application since the tub drain screws in to
the piece underneath the tub.
Should be simple, I know. I must be dumb.
* UPDATE *
After 8 tries with putty, I gave in and called a plumber.
It was fixed in 5 minutes. They don't even carry plumber's putty on their
truck. They used a tube of silicon sealant and it was ready to go. No
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