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I just noticed this tub spigot was very flimsy when I touched it.

This is a photo of it without me tugging on it without me pulling on it

and this one with me tugging on it me pulling on it

It comes off the wall about a quarter of an inch when I pull on it. It looks like it’s been caulked before, but the seal broke around it. I’m wondering what I have to do to fix this or if I can re-caulk it and it should be fine or not do anything it’ll be OK?

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2 Answers 2

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To truly fix the problem at its source, you'll want to open the access panel (or open up the drywall) behind the shower plumbing and examine how the plumbing is affixed to the wall structure. There needs to be blocking that holds the pipes in place. This is usually a piece of wood between studs that the pipes are attached to. If the tub spigot isn't attached to the blocking correctly or there is no blocking, you'll need to address that to prevent movement. (While you're in there, check the showerhead too.)

Once the spigot is solid, clean the old caulk off of the surfaces as well as you can to ensure that new caulk sticks well and seals completely, then run a fresh bead of caulk around the ring to seal it up.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can get it started and slowly pull the caulk off of the wall in large pieces. Carefully remove any remaining bits of caulk with a scraper or putty knife. Hold the scraper at a high angle and scrape toward the hole to prevent scratching the surface.

It could be kind of a slow process to get all the old caulk off the wall without scratching the surface, but a hairdryer might help to soften it up a little. Depending on the type of caulk used a rag with alcohol or vinegar may help to soften it up for removal... maybe not. There are also commercially available caulk removers available from where you buy caulk.

As tempting as it might be, you don't want to just apply new caulk over the old. It won't seal well and at best you'll get a really fat, ugly caulk bead. You could try it, but dollars-to-donuts you'll have to scrape it all off and start over anyhow.

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  • 1
    I've always used a (new) razor blade to scrape the old caulk off tiles.
    – Mathemats
    Mar 6, 2023 at 23:04
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    Does not look like tile, which means more care would be needed to make sure the razor blade does not damage the wall.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 6, 2023 at 23:08
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    The answer doesn't address the problem posed by the evident looseness of the pipe to which the spigot is mounted. Downvoted. Mar 7, 2023 at 5:24
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    @DavidSupportsMonica I added information about blocking. Thanks for your suggestion.
    – gnicko
    Mar 18, 2023 at 14:13
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There’s a couple of problems here.

One is that the spigot pipe was not properly anchored to the wall in the first place. That renders any effort at caulking, well, kind of pointless really.

What to do? First, pull the spigot off. It either screws on to a threaded 1/2" nipple, or slips on to an unthreaded copper pipe retained by a set-screw. Likely yours is threaded.

Feel like fixing the moving spigot? Here’s a couple of ideas.

Blocking Option 1

If there's enough room to get to it via the hole in the surround, install a spacer between the outlet down-pipe and the tub surround wall. The spigot fitting should go into a 90-degree that comes down from the shower valve. Install the spacer between that fitting and the outside (wall-facing) of the surround to prevent pulling the spigot out.

For the spacer, my thought is to take a piece of 3/4" PVC, cut it lengthwise, slip it over the pipe, then wedge it so that it expands and catches the tub surround hole.

That said, it’s kind of a kludge. It won’t really work that well if somebody’s in the habit of resting a leg on the spigot for example.

Blocking Option 2

If you have access to the opposite wall, install proper blocking from the back side to anchor the spigot pipe in place. Might be worth chopping a bit of drywall to do that.

Cleaning the caulk

Whatever you decide, while you still have the spigot off you have much easier access to clean the caulk off completely without damaging stuff.

Your tub surround appears to be fiberglass. This needs some special care. Fiberglass has a gelcoat surface that can be scratched easily with scraping, or damaged with harsh solvents. Instead, use a bit of heat from a hair dryer to soften the caulk, and scrape gently with a wood or plastic tool.

More about caulk removal from Loctite: https://www.loctiteproducts.com/en/know-how/build-things/remove-caulk.html

Some other suggestions here: https://plumbingways.com/how-to-remove-silicone-caulk-from-fiberglass/

Another caulk removal idea: Borrow or invest in a steam cleaner. Use that to heat the caulk to remove it. If you buy one, besides removing caulk it works great on mildew and scale without using chemicals.

On the spigot, you can use a commercial caulk remover, acetone or lacquer thinner (use in a well-ventilated area of course.) Again, scraping with a metal tool isn't a good idea. If you want to preserve the spigot finish, use a wood or plastic tool. Again, heat works too.

Or, you could just toss that the old, crusty spigot and get a new one.

And here’s the payoff for removing the spigot

While you're at your favorite home center or plumbing supply getting a new spigot (and teflon tape if needed), pick up a spigot seal ring. This gizmo slips over the pipe and seals up the gap behind the spigot. Then if the pipe pulls out again, the seal will prevent water from getting in behind the surround.

And, bonus: with the seal doing the job, you don't even need to caulk the spigot at all.

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