I have had recurring problems with a bathtub drain leaking.

After soaking the ceiling below the problem is noticed, and each time reapplying putty to the drain, seems to solve the problem.

Apparently the putty dries out in the "drain flange," but I also notice that it erodes away.

I would like to do a more permanent fix, and have considered using silicone rubber as opposed to plumber's putty.

It is hard to believe that every tub in the world needs new putty every several years to keep it from damaging the rest of the house with leakage.

  • What type of tub if acrylic is it bedded so it won't flex. A solid tub should not need plumbers putty replaced. I have seen when tubs were not bedded that the drain did leak and even cracked the tub floor from the flexing.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 19, 2019 at 21:01
  • This tub is a steel tub.
    – mongo
    Feb 20, 2019 at 13:43
  • Do you take showers in the tub? If the overflow drain/cover isn't seated and sealed correctly, water can enter the opening and drip down. Jul 15, 2020 at 4:26
  • The drain selector cover and assembly are sealed, and overflow does not cause leakage, per se.
    – mongo
    Jul 15, 2020 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


We had a problem recently with a leaky bathtub drain. The leak was due to a crack in the plastic drain shoe. The drain shoe extends horizontally from the overflow pipe to the drain in the tub. The drain flange (the part with the stopper or grate) screws into it. I'm guessing that I cross-threaded the flange when I screwed it into the shoe, causing the plastic to crack. (I had had removed the flange a few times to clean gunk from the drain). The solution was to replace the shoe (actually, we replaced the entire assembly, including the overflow pipe since it is all in a kit). Fortunately for us, we had easy access from an unfinished garage.

Here is a diagram: enter image description here

  • Nice diagram. The seal is compromised at the "drain flange" as indicated in the diagram. There is not a failure of the drain shoe.
    – mongo
    Feb 19, 2019 at 19:17

Silicone would work but I would find a rubber washer since you have been having trouble with plumbers putty. I have used putty and had it last the entire time I owned the house 10+ years. The problem with silicone is it makes it tough to remove if there is a problem later. I have used a nonstick cooking spray on 1 side in the past put a heavy bead and bring the parts together but not tight just snug then several hours later after it sets tighten it up this keeps the seal from being so thin that any movement creates a leak, if needed when or if it has to be removed the side that was sprayed with cooking spray released and cleaning was much easier. Added: if rubber the part you want is a flat bath shoe gasket, rubber. I think they are also made in clear silicone.

  • Have you seen such a rubber washer? The space occupied by the putty is extremely thin.
    – mongo
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:15
  • Yes I have some in my shop with an assortment of rubber washers for faucets. My local plumbing store has them in several sizes and thickness, the big box stores may have them but I find a better selection at the plumbing and electric supply store, they have individual parts and some really nice kits with just about every rubber replacement part in a nice case for under 20$ I refill when low and almost always have the part I need on hand.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:25
  • Would you be so kind as to provide a link, part number or even a picture?
    – mongo
    Feb 20, 2019 at 16:17
  • I tried to find it on line but could not find the same kit I have, my kit was similar to danco brand washer pro pak + the home washer assortment. It is a larger kit with both sides having latching lids I will try to find it tonight and provide the model and brand. Those 2 sets are only ~17$ but the parts listing I saw did not list the sizes for the washers.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 20, 2019 at 17:44
  • The thickest part of the putty appears to be less than 1.5mm, probably closer to 1mm. I don't even have a large O-ring that thin. I do have gaskets used for between the shoe and the tub, but they are much thicker.
    – mongo
    Feb 20, 2019 at 17:59

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