Without knowing what each pipe and valve does, you may end up with leaks, inconsistent water pressure, or tubs that don’t drain properly. Familiarizing yourself with the different parts of a bathtub will help you avoid headaches and get the job done right when upgrading or repairing the bathroom.
Bathtub Deconstructed: A Deep Dive Into the Various Bathtub Parts
The key components of a bathtub include the piping system for water supply and drainage and valves for better water flow. There are also functional bathtub parts like the rim, drain, trap, waste outlet, overflow control, and access panel. Additionally, there are fixtures such as the faucet and the tub’s lining.
Knowing the purpose of these critical bathtub parts will help ensure proper installation and operation of tubs. Below are brief descriptions of all the parts of standard tubs.
- Pipes: The water piping system delivers hot and cold water, while the diverter pipe directs water to faucets or shower heads.
- Valves: A shutoff valve controls the on/off flow of water to the hot and cold supply lines.
- Shower: The shower component allows you to stand and bathe under a stream of water from the attached shower head.
- Tub: The tub forms the basin that holds water for sitting and soaking in a bath.
- Flexible connector: The connector joins the water supply to the faucets, allowing movement.
- Planar cross: The cross is a four-way connector that distributes incoming and outgoing water flow.
- Faucet: The faucet components, like the lever, handle, dome, cartridge, and spout, regulate water flow.
- Rim: The rim is the top edge that contains the water.
- Lining: The decorative panel and retaining nut provide an aesthetic cover for the tub’s walls.
- Water supply: The water supply lines provide the water to fill the bathtub.
- Drain: The drain allows water to exit the bathtub into the wastewater piping.
- Trap: This holds water to prevent sewer gases from entering while allowing waste water to drain.
- Waste outlet: This outlet connects to the drain pipe, removing water from the bathtub.
- Overflow control: The overflow control prevents tubs from overfilling by draining excess water.
- Access panel: The access panel provides entry to the tub’s plumbing parts behind the wall.
Hot and Cold Water Supply Pipes
The bathroom has a dedicated pipe for cold and hot water. While the supply is mainly used for cold water, there’s a sub-system called a water heater to produce hot water and regulate temperature.
Instead of flowing directly into a faucet or shower head, the water heater catches and heats the water, then releases the water through the faucet. A gas-powered water heater will get the water supply line from the gas line. Meanwhile, an electrical cable will supply an electric water heater.
Many bathtubs are designed with shower capabilities, allowing the same bathtub to be used for bathing or showering. This shower component includes a diverter that routes water to a handheld shower or an overhead shower fixture. An integrated shower feature increases the functionality and convenience of cleaning and bathing.
The tub itself is the main basin that holds water for bathing purposes. Tubs come in different materials and shapes, like rectangular, oval, or corner configurations. The size and depth impact the bathing capacity and experience.
|Three-walled bathtub installed in alcove niche; apron front, wall surrounds
|Space-saving; only the finished face is visible
|Limited access to piping parts
|Rectangular bathtub dropped into the platform; surrounds help conceal rims
|Easier access to parts than alcove
|Visible rim can collect dirt
|Exposed feet hold the bathtub above the floor; exterior supply lines
|Statement piece; easier cleaning
|Less practical for showering
|Oval or rectangular bathtub on the finished base; exterior lines
|Eye-catching focal point
|Condensation on exterior piping
|Angled bathtub fits in the corner; narrower and deeper
|Saves space in smaller baths
|Limited mobility; harder to access parts
|Door allows step-in access; grab bars, bench, shelf
|Aging in place
|Mobility; safer for the aging or disabled
|More expensive; doors may leak
The diverter is a valve that reroutes the water flowing from sink faucets to either spouts or showers. When the diverter is activated, it stops the water from coming out of the spouts and sends it up to the shower instead.
The diverter allows you to easily switch between using the bathtub for a bath or a shower without making any major adjustments. It will give you the perfect mix of heated and cold water.
This connector is a bendable supply line that joins the water supply lines to faucets, allowing for some range of motion.
This flexible tubing enables the faucet to be moved slightly without compromising the seal, which is useful when installing or doing repairs to avoid leaking. The flexible piping prevents the plumbing system from getting clogged, cracked, or strained.
Shutoff or Control Valves
The shutoff valve gives the option to turn off the water flowing into the bathtub. You’ll want to turn the water off when removing, fixing, or installing a bathtub.
Fixture and primary valves are the two main types of shutoff valves. Newer houses often have a separate stop valve that controls water flow in the entire house. Check the valve if you notice low water pressure.
The sink faucet consists of components that allow you to turn the water flow on and off and adjust the water temperature.
- Lever and handle: This part determines the water pressure from the bathtub or shower. You can also use this to regulate the temperature.
- Dome: The dome has dotted holes along its surface that cover the shower for a more controlled burst of water.
- Cartridge: The sink faucet’s cartridge regulates water flow and temperature when you turn the lever and handle.
- Spout: The spout is the area where water flows from.
This is a four-way pipe connector used for controlling water flow. It connects the diverter pipe, water supply, and the drain’s rim to let water flow directly out.
The lining refers to the area where the bathtub meets the adjoining walls. I check this part often, as water can seep into the crevices, causing the lining to deteriorate over time. When the lining wears out, I install a new lining with multiple layers to secure the bathtub.
- Retaining nut: These locking nuts fasten the tubs to the walls.
- Decorative panel: This outer layer covers the interior pipe to have a cleaner bathroom aesthetic. The panel can usually be in the form of natural stone or tiles.
The rim is the upper edge of the tubs. It provides a sturdy base for you to relax and rest your body. More than that, the rim catches excess water spilling out of the bathtub, so water won’t end up flooding your bathroom floor.
Its sealant is prone to deterioration since the rim is in direct contact with water most of the time. You may need to apply a new caulk as a sealant at least every year or two.
This is where water drains and enters the drain pipe that removes water. A circular hole connected to the drain system collects the used water. I also like to use a strainer to catch hair, which can clog the piping system and restrict the flow of water.
Also known as an S-bend, this piping traps water to prevent harmful substances and gases from passing through from outside into the house. Simultaneously, it lets waste pass through the piping system and outside your home.
The waste outlet is a system installed in and around the toilet. It’s also usually connected to traps to prevent contamination in the water supply.
It uses gravity to pull waste and other harmful substances down the sewer. Call a plumber if it becomes clogged.
Overflow Pipe Control
Most tubs have overflow pipe control. In this way, water won’t flood over the rim if left running. Sadly, my first bathtub didn’t have one, resulting in flooding one time.
You can find the overflow pipe between the connections and the drains. I also use a replacement overflow plate to catch the excess water and push the water through a separate pipe into the draining system.
The access panel is a removable plate that allows entry behind the tub’s wall to inspect piping, valves, and other plumbing parts. Having an access panel makes it easier to reach the shutoff valve systems, supply lines, and drains for repairs and maintenance without damaging walls or tiles.
Some tubs don’t have an access panel, making it difficult to access the piping. For example, alcove tubs lack an access panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Parts of Bathtubs Called?
The main parts of bathtubs include the water supply piping, drain and waste outlets, faucets and handles, rim, lining and paneling, valve system like the P-traps and shutoffs, overflow control, and access panel. Knowing the names of components like the diverter, supply lines, drains, overflow, and valves will help with proper bathtub installation and repairs.
What Is the Circle Thing in the Bathtub Called?
The circular fitting seen in many bathtubs is called the drain overflow plate or cover plate, which conceals the overflow pipe. This removable plate gives access to the overflow and drain components for cleaning and maintenance.
What Are the Components of a Bathtub Drain?
The bathtub’s drain assembly consists of the visible drain plate connected to the tailpiece and waste tee or P-trap below. It also includes components like the pop-up stopper, trip lever, and hair strainer.
Whether installing a new bathtub or fixing an existing one in your bathroom, knowing the critical bathtub parts like the water supply piping system, drain, and overflow is key to safety and functionality. With this overview of the anatomy of a bathtub, you’ll be able to confidently tackle any bathtub project.