Plumber's putty will seal shower drains set in tiled floors or tub bottoms.

How to Putty a Shower Drain

by Jessica Westover

Over time, shower drains may start to leak because of cracks in the aging caulk or putty that surrounds the drain flange, or visible drain cylinder, sealing it to the shower floor. If left untreated, the leaking water will result in mold growth and rotting floor boards. Instead of calling a plumber and accruing another expense to add to your family's budget, fix the problem yourself. Adding new plumber's putty to the drain will seal it immediately to the floor and stop the leak.

Unscrew any screws holding the drain plate in place using a screwdriver, if applicable. Pull the drain plate off the drain and set it aside.

Clasp the crosspiece of the drain flange with a spud wrench, or channel lock pliers if the drain sports a crosspiece. Insert the jaws of the wrench or pliers into the center of the drain and spread them apart until they press against the inside of the drain flange if no crosspiece is present. Twist the wrench or pliers counterclockwise to unscrew the drain flange. Pull the flange out of the floor.

Rub a wire brush back and forth across the outside of the flange to remove any clinging putty or caulk. Do not scrub the flange so hard as to scar or damage its threads.

Wipe out with paper towels any loose putty or caulk from the drain hole located in the shower's floor. Scrub the inside of the hole with the wire brush to remove any clinging putty or caulk.

Scoop a 2-inch-thick ball of plumber's putty from its container. Roll the putty between your hands or on a flat work surface to create a rope 1/2-inch wide and equal in length to the outer circumference of the flange.

Wrap the rope of putty around the outside of the flange. Position the putty just underneath the top lip of the flange. Overlap the putty's ends, pushing them together to erase the seam. Push on the putty gently, working your way around the flange, to ensure it sticks to the flange.

Insert the flange's bottom into the drain hole in the shower's floor. Screw the flange into the hole with your hands, stopping once it becomes difficult to turn. Screw the flange the remainder of the way in place using the wrench or pliers.

Scrape off any putty that oozed out between the flange and the floor with a putty knife.

Place the drain plate in place over the drain flange, lining up the screw holes. Insert each screw in its hole and tighten it with a screwdriver.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver
  • Spud wrench or channel lock pliers
  • Wire brush
  • Paper towel
  • Plumber's putty
  • Putty knife


  • On drain flanges with no threads, use a flat-head screwdriver to pry up the flange. Work evenly around the flange with the screwdriver to avoid bending or damaging it.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images