How Do You Stop A Bathtub Overflow? And Why Would You Want To?

Are you tired of having a bath and watching your knees pop up out of the water? How do you stop bathtub overflow? There is a very simple answer that requires nothing more than a quick click on an online store or a visit to your toolbox.

Let’s dive in!

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How Do You Stop A Bathtub Overflow?

The quickest and easiest way to stop a bathtub overflow is to use a reusable overflow cover. Simply place the cover over the overflow on your bathtub to seal it up and stop water from escaping through the overflow and down the drain. Giving you a deeper soak.

For less than £10, you can buy a cover that uses suction cups to seal off your overflow plate. While you are filling the tub for a proper soak, dip the cover in the water and place it over the overflow, and press to seal.

The SlipX Solution is available on Amazon for around £8. You will be able to find a similar product in your local home goods shop or plumbing supply store.

After you drain the tub, the overflow cover can be peeled off the tub and stored for future use. Your tub is quickly restored to normal function. As these rubberised plates will wear out over time, it is not a permanent solution.

Bathtub Overflow Cover
Overflow CoverSlipX Solution

Alternative Ways To Stop A Bathtub Overflow

Permanent Adjustable Overflow Plate

If taking a bubble bath is a weekly ritual for you, you may want to install a more permanent and easy-to-use solution. Check the plumbing supply section at your home improvement store. You can find a bath overflow plate made out of matching chrome, brushed nickel, or other finish that will match your taps.

The plate has an inner plate that contains the overflow drain and an outer plate that is twisted to open and close the overflow drain. It looks just like it totally belongs in your bath. It only takes a screwdriver to remove the old overflow plate and replace it with a new one.

DIY Overflow Plates Using Household Items

Maybe doing a deep soak is something that you do once in a great while. You can use one of these quick hacks to get your tub full and then restore the bath to its usual function for the kids.

Plumbers Putty

You may have a little jar of this putty in your home repair kit. Just roll out a piece between your hands and press it into place over the hole of your overflow drain. It will stay put until you peel it off.

Since it is designed for use in plumbing, it retains its shape underwater. Not to be confused with your kids’ play clay, which may turn your bathwater a funny colour and just fall apart.

A Bundle Of Rubber Bands Or Hair Elastics

If you use an elastic to pull back your long hair, take three or four of them and wrap them around your overflow drain cover. It may not make a perfect seal, but it should do well enough for a half-hour of wallowing in the bubbles.

Duct Tape

Yes! It’s everybody’s favourite DIY tool. Duct tape will provide a temporary seal for your overflow drain. By the end of your soak, it may begin to fall off the drain cover. It will also leave behind a sticky residue.

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Why Would You Want To Stop A Bathtub Overflow?

If you are tall, big-boned, or maybe pregnant, getting fully submersed in a standard bath can be something of a challenge. No matter how long you let the water run, it will never fill up farther than the overflow drain.

When you close off the overflow, you can add another 75 to 100 mm of water depth to your bath. There will be no knees, toes, or bellies getting cold while the rest of you is soaking in heated water.

However, if you do want to indulge in a deep luxurious soak, remember to unstop your drain when you are done. If the next person to have a bath is your child, they may end up flooding the bathroom.

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Deep filled bathtub - stop bathtub overflow

Why Do Bathtubs Have An Overflow Drain?

When we first began enjoying indoor plumbing, one of the first technology plumbing upgrades introduced was the screw valve. While the theory was good, the metal used to make the early pipes and valves was known to corrode rather quickly.

It was not unheard of for a rusty bath tap valve to open while nobody was home. If the stopper was left in the tub, there was nothing to stop the house from being flooded.

The overflow drain provides a backup in case your tap is left open with the main drain closed. Even if the water runs all day long, your bathroom will never flood.

In multi-floor flats and high-rise towers, it can prevent a huge repair bill to other units under the flooding tub.

How Does A Bathtub Overflow Drain Work?

Most baths are made to hold a depth of 350 to 500 mm of water. The overflow drain is positioned at the top of the intended depth. Behind the overflow plate, a hole is cut in the side of the tub and connected to a pipe or is part of an integrated drain.

Water flows through the hole and down to join the main bath drain on its path to the main house drain. If your overflow cover includes a toggle to open and close the floor drain, the hardware for the floor drain and the overflow drain pipe are integrated. 

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know about how to stop a bathtub overflow, why you might want to and how bathtub overflows work.

It’s quick and easy to stop your bathtub overflow and enjoy a nice deep soak. I recommend picking up a reusable overflow cover to save time and hassle trying to DIY it.

Just remember to remove any type of cover after you’ve had your nice relaxing soak so the next person doesn’t accidentally flood the bathroom.


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.