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Bathtub Overflow Drain

Overflow Drain – The Best Accessory for Your Bathtub!

Bathtub Overflow Drain

We usually tend to forget small things like car keys or switching off the light or fan. It is human nature, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. We can say the same thing for bathtubs and faucets. Opening the faucet, letting the bathtub fill, and forgetting that you even did that. Suddenly, water overflows and fills your bathroom, making it an “indoor pool.” That is bad for water and electricity bills. What is the best way to keep the water from overflowing from the bathtub when you forget to turn off the water? The answer is overflow drain or bathtub overflow drain. In the upcoming blocks, we will talk about overflow drains, how it can benefit you, and ultimately, how it works. 


Bathtub Overflow Drain – What Is It?

From the name, we can easily identify the general purpose of an overflow drain: preventing water overflow from a bathtub or a faucet. Or, it is installed to collect the water from the bathtub or faucet, which is more than necessary. An overflow drain's other functionality is keeping the optimal water level in your bathtub. This may seem small, but in the long run, it is one of the most economical ways to save money on bills and ultimately save water. 

What Are the Types of Bathtub Overflow Drains?

The types of bathtub overflow drain depend solely on the age of your home and the type of bathtub used in your home. Why does the age of your house play a big part in the overflow drain? Traditionally, the overflow drain is installed by cutting a hole in the bathtub and placing the drain into that hole so that one end faces the bathtub and the other faces the wall. When the overflow drain collects the water from the bathtub, it directly sends it into the pipeline connected to the other end of the drain (in the wall) and reaches the tub drain, where the excess water collects. This type of bathtub overflow drain is known as a “traditional overflow drain.”


The other type of drain is more related to modern style. Instead of having a dedicated pipeline and p-trap to collect the water and send it to the reservoir, the modern drain will be an integral part of the tub. Almost all bathtubs have a cut on their inside surface. Once the water reaches the optimal level, the excess water is collected through that cut and goes to the reservoir. This type is known as an “integral overflow drain.”  


So, which one is the best? Well, it depends; if you want a more modernized look and don’t want to work with drain pipes protruding from different sides, then an integral drain is the best choice. If your bathtub does not support any modern accessories and you purposefully want that vintage and rustic look to your bathroom, go with a traditional one. Both should perfectly get the job done. 

How Many Parts Does the Overflow Drain Consist of?

Usually, a traditional bathtub overflow drain consists of the following:

  • Drain cover
  • Overflow washer
  • Drain pipe
  • Drain trap (P-trap)
  • Overflow stopper
  • Rubber casket (mostly similar to overflow washer)
  • Arm to support the pipe and the stopper

A modern bathtub overflow drain (a pop-in drain) has the following parts:

  • Drop-in drain
  • Lubricant
  • Rubber casket 
  • Female & male adapters
  • Overflow pipe
  • Tailpiece

Workings of an Overflow Drain:

The workings of an overflow drain is simple:

  1. Once the water reaches the optimal level inside the bathtub, the excess water enters the drain.
  2. Usually, the main drain (the drain that is present inside the tub) is plugged with a rubber casket or drain cover. The main drain gets filled with excess water.
  3. Instead of water getting drained, it will then proceed to reach the overflow stopper. 
  4. The overflow stopper is connected to the drain pipe for the water to reach the overflow drain.
  5. The overflow drain consists of two parts: trap and drain. The trap helps to regulate the water flow in and out of the drain by locking and unlocking the drain. 

Is It Important to Have an Overflow Drain in Your Bathtub?

From a safety point of view, it is better to have an overflow drain in your bathtub. If you are busy and taking care of other important business after turning the faucet on, an overflow drain can help you maintain an optimal water level without wasting it. That said, installing an overflow drain is unnecessary if you have a shower+ bathtub layout in your bathroom. The standard one is just to get the job done.

How to Maintain a Bathtub with an Overflow Drain?

An overflow drain can lead to serious problems down the road if not properly maintained. Installing an overflow drain means introducing a new pipe system to an already existing drain and bathtub pipeline. If not properly cared for, the pipeline can mess up the entire system and cost you a lot of money to repair. 

What Are the Issues That Can Arise from Overflow Drains?

If not maintained well, the main issues that can arise are:

  • Corrosion or rust formation
  • Clogs in drain
  • Leaks

The listed issues are interconnected, meaning if one of the issues occurs, the probability of the next issue arising is high. 

Corrosion or Rust:

Corrosion results from high moisture content in the drain pipeline (iron pipeline). Exposure to water for prolonged periods can result in rust and ultimately reduce the durability of the pipeline. To avoid such conditions, it is better to use durable PVC pipes for the drain. PVC pipes are much more flexible than iron pipelines and can easily be installed with a simple installation kit. 

Clogs:

Clogs are a collection of dust, hair, and other particles accumulated in a place. The drain is the perfect place for all the dirt and hair to get sedimented in the bathtub. Clogs actively disrupt the water flow and block the pipeline. Over time, if you don’t clear the clog, it can result in lower pressure and damage the drain system. You can easily clear the clog with the tools that are available online. After your bath, take that tool and clear any debris. Ensure water flows into the drain pipe as perfectly as possible. 

Leaks:

Corrosion can lead to the drain pipeline and drain rim breakage. This leads to leakage of the water. If you take care of the corrosion problem, you are 95% free from leaks, and for the remaining 5%, you have to ensure that all the parts are fixed together without any gaps between them. 


The other steps that you can follow to prevent any abnormality in the overflow drain are the following:

  • During cleaning, make sure that you are using diluted cleaning solutions. It helps the drain system and your bathtub from any structural damage.
  • After taking a bath, clean the drain properly with the drain-cleaning tool kit to remove any unwanted debris.
  • Keep your bathroom as tidy as possible, which helps you reduce dust accumulation over time

FAQs:

  • Why is the overflow drain leaking?
  • Leaks are mostly caused by two things: The formation of rust and damaged rubber casket. You can replace the rubber casket to stop the leakage with the help of a repair kit. Using PVC instead of iron/metal pipe can arrest the formation of rust.

  • Should you caulk around the overflow drain?
  • It is not recommended to caulk around the overflow drain plate. Once the water hits that perfect level in the tub, the excess water starts to enter the drain from the bottom of the drain plate. So, if you fully caulk the drain, the drain system will not work as intended.

  • Can you replace a tub overflow drain?
  • Yes, you can replace the tub overflow drain. Replacing the eroded parts over time can help you maintain the drain system's health and the water pressure for your bathtub. 

    Final Thoughts:

    Did you know that, according to the US EPA, about 900 billion gallons of water are wasted from household water leakage annually around the nation? A lot of people live in drought-stricken areas and are in dire need of water. Things like overflow drains may not do much compared to the annual stats, but cumulatively around every household can save as much water as possible, which can be a great start for water management. We have various types of water drains for different bathtub types. Choose the best one for you, save yourself some headaches down the road, and take part in the “save the water” journey.
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