Bathtub Won’t Hold Water

Did you notice that your bathtub won’t hold water?

If your bathtub won’t hold water, it can become a very inconvenient and frustrating situation.

Luckily in most cases, there is a simple solution to this problem. So read on to find out how to keep the water in the tub!

Reasons Why Your Bathtub Won’t Hold Water



The only way to find the source of the problem is to inspect every inch of your bathtub. Here are some most common reasons why your tub won’t hold water.

  1. Wrong size or type of bathtub drain stopper 

In many cases, a faulty bathtub drain stopper is the culprit if your bathtub doesn’t hold water. If you are using an old-fashioned rubber plug which is oversized or too small, the problem is quite apparent. [1]

A stopper that does not fit your drain will not stop the water from going down. In this case, it is best to find one that is the proper size and type for your particular bathtub.

  1. The pop-up drain stopper is faulty

On the other hand, if your bathtub stopper is mechanical, like a pop-up plug, it can be more complicated. The problem might be due to a disconnected spring or plug that connects to the linkage.

The linkage is the part that moves a pop-up drain stopper up and down. Problems with the linkage can cause the plug to stay open. [2]

Additionally, the bathtub drain lever won’t stay when you push it in a specific direction. By inspecting the linkage, you will notice whether it is connected and functioning correctly.

  • First, pull the lever to expose the linkage fully for inspection. You can retrieve and reconnect the spring and plug with a magnetic tool if it’s disconnected. Another sign that the linkage is not functioning is if you see it tangled or bent.
  • The linkage should be hanging straight down, and the pin should be located at the top. If you notice the U-shaped pin is missing or broken, it should be replaced.
  • If the pop up bath plug won’t stay down, it might be because the nut underneath the cap is too loose or tight. To fix the problem, you need to take off the cap and screw the nut until the action seems right.

Once you fix and secure everything in place, it should be functioning again.

  1. The rubber washer is missing or worn

The rubber piece around the bath stopper is responsible for providing a seal so that the water doesn’t leak out.

If the rubber part is missing, broken, or worn, the bathtub won’t hold water.

Inspect the rubber to see if it is there. If it looks worn, broken or simply does not fit tight anymore, that is most likely the problem. You can get a new rubber at a hardware store, but make sure it is the right size for your bath stopper.

  1. There is a clog in the pipes

Hair and grease tend to collect in old pipes. Therefore if the bathtub won’t drain, it is due to a clog. However, a clog can cause the opposite effect as well.

The water pressure can change if the clog builds up, and they are forced to look for alternate routes of escape. This will cause the drain stopper to lift and the water to drain from the tub.

There are plenty of homemade solutions or store-bought chemicals one can use to dissolve the clog. However, more stubborn clogs can be caused by a bottle cap or razor cover that has fallen down the drain.

Another area that may be clogged is the drain stopper itself. Therefore, it is essential to regularly check the plug and have a plumber fix hard-to-solve issues if needed.

Related: How To Unclog Bathtub Drain

  1. The tub is old and leaking

One reason for your bath not to hold water might be that the tub itself is leaking. If this is the case, the problem can be easily detected. You would notice the water flooding the bathroom floor or signs of leakage on the walls and ceiling. Sometimes leaks might even occur under that bathroom floor.

A plumber needs to be called as soon as possible to get the tub fixed in such a case. In the worst-case scenario, you will have to get a new tub. This can be a great excuse for getting that freestanding tub you always wanted!

How To Keep Water In A Bathtub When The Stopper Doesn’t Work


If the source of the problem is the drain stopper, it might be a quick DIY fix. However, if you don’t have the missing parts, a temporary solution is your best bet. There are a variety of things you might have at hand to create a quick emergency solution.

Plumber’s Putty

When the pop-up drain has a failing rubber washer, reach for the plumber’s putty. Many times plumbers will use this putty to prevent leaks in drains and around other fittings.

You can roll a bit of putty out so that it forms a snake-like shape. It should be long enough to encircle the drain. Next, you should lift the drain stopper and cover the rubber part with putty. Close the drain on the putty and fill the tub!

After you are done bathing, the putty should be removed to prevent it from going down the drain. Keep in mind that this is a one-time fix, and therefore, the putty should be removed when you drain the tub. [3]

Bag A Washcloth

Maybe you have already tried sticking a washcloth in the drain to prevent water from draining. However, a washcloth itself would not bring any success as the water will drain right through it.

The trick is to put the washcloth in a plastic bag. Once it is in the bag, squeeze out the air and seal the end. Shape the washcloth bag so that it fits into the bathtub drain hole. Typically, a significant part of the washcloth bag will stick out of the drain.

Ensure to hold the washcloth bag down while you turn on the water to prevent it from popping out. Once the tub is filled, there should be enough water in the tub to keep the bag in place.

Single-Serve Coffee Pods

Some single-serve coffee pods can fit neatly inside drain-holes. Therefore a single-serve coffee pod can be used to keep the water in the bathtub. The water might only last long enough for a quick wash, but it is still worth giving it a shot.

You can simply set the single-shot coffee pod into the drain. Make sure that the top faces down so that it plugs the hole. Fill the tub and enjoy your quick bath!

Everyday Toilet Plunger

While this tool might seem gross or unhygienic, it can work effectively. A toilet plunger can create a solid suction to ensure that water does not escape your tub.

It would be best to first clean the toilet plunger and then place the rubber end over the drain hole. Press down on the drain hole to form a seal. Now fill the tub with water and enjoy soaking in the bathtub for as long as you want!

Jam Jar Lid

You can also create a suction beneath the drain with a jam jar lid. However, this will only work if there is enough flat surface around your drain hole to place the lid.

Once you place the lid over the hole of the tub, the water should keep the lid against the drain. You can even put something solid on top of the lid to ensure it stays secure.

Plastic Bag Filled With Water

A plastic bag filled with water is similar to the washcloth-bag technique. You simply fill a plastic bag with water and seal the end. Next, you should set the water-filled bag over the drain hole and hold it down while filling the tub.

The weight of the water in the bag should provide enough suction to keep the water in the tub for a quick bath.

Bathtub Drain Stopper Types

The bathtub drain stopper is most likely the culprit in a bathtub that won’t hold water. Not all bathtub drain stoppers are the same though. Therefore the solution to this problem will slightly differ from plug to plug.

Inspection of the drain stopper is the first step to solve the problem. [3]

Any parts that are missing or broken should be fixed. If you are looking to install a new bathtub drain stopper, there are various types to choose from, including:

  • Lift-and turn bathtub drain stopper
  • Push-and-pull bathtub drain stopper
  • Trip-lever bathtub drain stopper
  • Flip-it bathtub drain stopper
  • Toe-Touch bathtub drain stopper
  • Press-Flo bathtub drain stopper

While most of these drain stoppers are universal, you will still have to make sure they fit your bath. Make sure to measure your bathtub drain before purchasing a new stopper. [4]

Some bathtubs have a built-in mechanism that controls the drain stopper, in which case you will have to opt for the same stopper.

Read Also: House Smells Like Gas But Have Electric Water Heater

Bathtub Won’t Hold Water 

If you are dealing with a bathtub that won’t hold water, one of these problems might be the reason. The most common reason is usually due to a faulty bathtub stopper.

A DIY temporary solution can always be used if you can’t fix the problem right away. However if the problem might be connected to plumbing, it is best to call a plumber.

Read Next: How To Stop Bugs From Coming Up The Drain