How To Block A Tub Overflow Drain

Overflow drains in bathtubs serve an essential purpose – they help prevent water from spilling out of the tub and causing water damage.

bathtub faucet and a bathtub overflow drain

But there may be instances where you'd like to block the tub's overflow drain, such as taking a deeper bath or fixing a leak.

Worry not! We're here to help with some simple solutions.

The Purpose of Tub Overflow Drains

Tub overflow drains are essential components of a bathtub that help prevent water from spilling out and causing water damage to your bathroom.

These drains are usually located near the top of the bathtub and are designed to catch excess water when the tub is filled too high or if the faucet is accidentally left running.

The overflow drain then directs the water back into the main drain system, ensuring your bathroom stays safe and dry.

When selecting a bathtub, it's important to consider the type of overflow drain that best suits your needs.

There are two main types: traditional and integral overflow drains.

Traditional overflow drains are visible and have a separate cover, while integral overflow drains are built into the tub and are hidden from view.

The choice between the two comes down to personal preference and the aesthetic appeal of your bathroom.

Maintaining your tub's overflow drain is also very important.

Regularly checking the drain for any blockages and cleaning it can help prevent overflows and potential water damage.

If you notice any buildup, using a plunger or a drain snake can effectively clear the blockage.

Necessary Tools for Blocking Overflow Drains

When you want to block a tub overflow drain, there are a few essential tools you'll need.

Plumbing Putty

To create a watertight seal, you'll need a good quality plumbing putty. It's a soft, pliable material that can be molded into any shape.

All you need to do is apply the putty around the edges of the overflow drain hole, press firmly, and smooth it out with your fingers.

Give it time to dry, according to the manufacturer's instructions, to ensure a strong and durable seal.

This will effectively block the tub overflow drain and prevent leaks.

Get this Harvey plumber's putty on Amazon.

Overflow Cover

An overflow cover is a simple yet effective way to block a tub overflow drain.

There are different types available, so it's essential to choose one that matches your bathtub's size and style.

To install the overflow cover or plate, first remove your tub's standard overflow cover and clean the drain hole.

Then, simply attach the new cover following the manufacturer's instructions. Once in place, it will prevent water from entering the overflow drain.

Get this SlipX Solutions overflow drain cover on Amazon.


A screwdriver is a vital tool when working with tub overflow drains.

Many overflow covers are held in place with screws, so you'll need a screwdriver to remove the old cover and secure the new one.

It's helpful to have different screwdriver sizes and types at your disposal, as some bathtubs may require a specific type (e.g., Phillips or flathead).

So, before starting the process, make sure you have the correct screwdriver for your specific bathtub overflow drain.

Steps to Block a Tub Overflow Drain

In this section, we will walk you through the process of blocking a tub overflow drain. Follow these simple steps for a successful DIY project.

Preparing Basin and Drain

Before starting, it's important to prepare the area. Begin by cleaning the bathtub and the overflow drain.

Remove any debris or residue that might be present. Ensure that the area is dry.

This will help the plumbing putty adhere properly and provide a strong seal.

Applying Plumbing Putty

Next, you'll need to apply plumbing putty to the drain. This putty is designed to create a watertight seal and can be easily molded to fit the shape of the drain.

  1. Take a small amount of putty and roll it into a thin rope.
  2. Place this rope of putty around the perimeter of the drain hole.
  3. Press the putty firmly onto the surface to create a tight seal.

Remember, be generous with the putty as excess can always be removed later.

Attaching the Overflow Cover

Now that the putty is in place, attach the overflow cover or plate. This will help block the overflow drain and prevent water from escaping.

  1. Align the cover or plate over the drain hole, making sure the putty surrounds the edges.
  2. Secure the cover or plate in place using screws, if applicable. Ensure a snug fit, but don't overtighten the screws.
  3. Remove any excess putty that has squeezed out from under the cover or plate.

That's it! Now, your tub overflow drain is successfully blocked. Remember to periodically check for wear and tear to maintain a proper seal.

Troubleshooting Blocked Tub Overflow Drains

Having trouble with a blocked tub overflow drain? Don't worry, we'll go through some common issues and how to fix them.

Check for Obstructions

First, take a look at the overflow drain to see if there's any visible debris or obstructions.

You can often remove these with a pair of pliers or by simply reaching in and grabbing the debris.

Be careful not to scratch your tub or overflow drain while doing this.

Try a Plunger

If you can't see any obstructions but your tub is still having overflow issues, try using a plunger.

Ensure that the plunger's cup is large enough to cover the overflow drain completely and press down firmly before pulling back to create suction.

Do this several times to see if it clears the blockage.

Use a Drain Snake

If plunging doesn't work, you may need to use a drain snake. This handy tool consists of a flexible cable that's wound up inside a drum.

Slowly push the cable into the overflow drain until you feel resistance, which indicates you've reached the blockage.

Gently rotate the snake to break up and remove the blockage. Keep in mind that you may need to try this a few times to fully unclog the drain.

Inspect the Overflow Plate

Sometimes, the problem can be as simple as a loose or damaged overflow plate.

Check the plate for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or chips, and make sure it's securely fastened.

If necessary, you can easily replace it with a new one.

Consider Calling a Professional

If you're still having trouble with your tub overflow drain after trying the methods above, it may be time to call in a professional plumber.

They'll have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix the issue, ensuring your tub is back to working order as soon as possible.

Blocking Tub Overflow Drain Effectively

It's essential to maintain a functional and efficient tub overflow drain, as it can prevent water damage and ensure a pleasant bathing experience.

One effective way to stop a tub overflow drain is by using a bathtub overflow cover or plate.

This will help you better control the water level in your bathtub and customize your soaking experience.

Make sure to install the cover or plate correctly and test it to ensure its effectiveness.

By taking the necessary steps to block the tub overflow drain, you can truly enjoy a soothing bath without worrying about water escaping or causing damage to your bathroom.

For more bathtub-related tips, check out these other articles:

How To Fix A Bathtub That Is Not Level

How To Fix A Cracked Bathtub

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