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bobsmithhome 02-24-2012 10:32 PM

Tub overflow question. What was attached to the two screws in the photo?
I recently purchased a home that was constructed five years ago. On one of the bathtubs we noticed that some stuff was flaking off from behind the overflow plate and dropping into the tub. It was brown/rust colored and about the consistency of dry plaster. I could break it using my fingers. I removed the overflow plate and cleaned that out of there, but I have no idea what it was, why it was in there, how to replace it, or even if I should replace it. I have attached a photo. You will see that there are two screws sticking out that appear to do nothing. Those two screws are what that stuff appeared to be attached to, but it was all broken up and just hanging in there.


1) What is the junk that was flaking off?

2) What was its purpose?

3) Do I need to replace it (and how do I do that)?

4) I think this is a fiberglass tub. Why is it rusted all around the overflow (I didn't think fiberglass could rust)?

5) Does it look like I have a good seal between the tub and overflow pipe? Does anything there need to be fixed?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

joecaption 02-24-2012 10:41 PM

No clue why it rusted. A cheap cover plate would have been chrome covered plastic and a good one would have been stainless steel.
The only thing I can come up with is your on well water and no water softner or your city water has to mush iron in it and you need a water softtner.
To get the rust stains off use a product called the Works and rince it off as soon as possible.
Use silicone caulking when resetting the overflow or plumbers putty.

plummen 02-24-2012 10:59 PM

Some trip levers have a lipper metal bracket behind them on the overflow :)

bobsmithhome 02-25-2012 03:43 PM

Here's a photo of the overflow plate. It has a drop cylinder on the end of the linkage. Can I just put that back on and use the tub/shower? There's a gasket that seals the tub wall to the overflow (see photo). I'm concerned that the stuff that flaked off is serving some purpose that I'm not aware of, so I'm reluctant to use the tub. And I'm still wondering what purpose is served by those two screws that are sticking out. Plummen mentioned a lipper metal bracket. I'm wondering if the bracket was missing and the builder just slapped some plumber's putty there, and five years later it dried out. If so, why would he do that? What purpose does it even serve? Should I clean it up and put some silicone caulk or plumber's putty in there before I install the overflow bracket? I want to do this right, but I don't know what to do. What would you do? Any help would be appreciated.

ben's plumbing 02-25-2012 04:22 PM

that had a retainer clip to hold back of unit in place after removing front plate..:yes:

plummen 02-25-2012 05:02 PM


oh'mike 02-25-2012 05:50 PM

Google images should have pictures---there is a horse shoe shaped metal clip missing---get new clip--although the cover plate should pull that overflow pipe tight to the tub---

plummen 02-25-2012 05:52 PM

Yeah I generally dont worry about the little tin clip,the trip lever tends to pull everything together tight :thumbsup:

AllanJ 02-25-2012 05:53 PM

Maybe the bracket that the two screws held in place had rusted completely away, i.e. leaving no evidence of itself.

Did you say there was another bathroom with the same kind of tub? Take the overflow cover plate off of that and compare the parts inside.

The two bolts that hold the overflow plate on also hold the pipe piece in back tight against the gasket back there. But don't use tremendous extreme strength to tighten them up.

bobsmithhome 02-26-2012 12:23 AM

Thanks everyone. Now I get it. I followed oh'mike's advice and googled the term "retainer clip" (a term mentioned by ben's plumbing) and I found the photo below. Now I see what was attached to those two screws. And I think AlanJ and everyone else is right... it was probably a flimsy clip that rusted completely away. That explains why I could break the remaining fragments apart with my fingers - there was almost nothing left. It also explains all the rust.

I think I'll try to find a better quality overflow plate and replace the whole thing. In the meantime it helps to know that the retainer clip doesn't really do all that much anyway (thanks Plummen and oh'mike). If I can't find one that isn't stainless steel or brass, I'll probably just leave it out.

This is a terrific forum. I appreciate everyone's help.

oh'mike 02-26-2012 08:17 AM

Thanks for the update---Google images is a handy little tool---don't fuss to much over that clip--

Its main job is keeping the overflow in place during the assembly of the drain set---the cover screws do the real work of holding the gasket tight to the back side of the tub----

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