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Have you ever wondered what the drain in your bathtub is that is placed slightly higher than the normal drain? If you haven’t spent a lot of time researching bathtubs, then you might not be aware that this is known as an overflow drain.
For the most part, any type of bathtub that you buy at a store is likely going to have an overflow drain. It’s a common feature that is pretty necessary in order to prevent flooding.
Some people are curious about whether it would be possible to have a bathtub that doesn’t possess an overflow drain. Are you allowed to have one without an overflow drain or is that simply not something that you should do?
Keep reading to learn about overflow drains and what they do. You’ll learn whether you can have a bathtub without an overflow drain as well as other things that you should consider.
Understanding the Concept of an Overflow Drain
The basic concept of the overflow drain is actually really easy to understand when you think about it. You plug the drain at the bottom of the tub so that it can fill up with water when you’re taking a bath, but you don’t want the tub to overflow.
What if you get distracted while you’re running a bath for yourself? You might choose to leave the room for a few minutes while the water is still running to handle other business.
Perhaps you got a phone call or maybe someone was ringing your doorbell and you needed to go get the door. Either way, you were gone for several minutes while the water was still running in the tub.
The overflow drain should prevent the tub from flooding if it’s working properly. This means that the water will only be able to get so high in your bathtub and you shouldn’t be wading through a bunch of water just to turn the faucet off when you go to check on things.
Overflow drains are essentially safety mechanisms that help to prevent people from flooding their bathrooms. You could avoid damaging your bathroom just because you have an overflow drain.
If the overflow drain wasn’t there, then water would keep coming out of the faucet and you’d flood the whole room. This water could wind up leaking through the floor and you could damage your entire home.
It’s obvious that this is something that you don’t want to have happen. This is why the vast majority of bathtubs are going to come with overflow drains.
Some Overflow Drains Look a Bit Different
Most overflow drains on bathtubs are going to look like small circular drain holes. They won’t always look exactly the same, though, because the designers of the tub might have made the drain in different ways.
It’ll often be made to match up well with the design of the bathtub so that it won’t look out of place. Some drains will also have features that others might not have.
For instance, you might find an overflow drain that will allow you to open and close the drain. Not all drains allow you to do this and some of them will just remain open at all times.
Generally, the holes for the overflow drains will be located just a bit below the faucets on the tub. An overflow drain can be made out of metal, rubber, or even plastic.
Most of the time the overflow drain will be made out of the same material as the faucet and handles. If your faucet appears to be some type of chrome metallic material, then the overflow drain will probably be made out of the same material.
There Are Two Basic Types of Overflow Drains
Now that you know that some overflow drains look different, it’s time to learn about the different types. There are two basic types of overflow drains that you should know about.
A traditional overflow drain is a very prevalent type of drain that is located somewhere on the side of the bathtub. This drain is there to get any excess water that makes it up to the drain before it can flood out of the bathtub.
Integral overflow drains are located near the faucets on bathtubs. These work to keep the water levels fairly low so that the bathtub will never be in any real danger of overflowing.
Which style of overflow drain you have on your bathtub doesn’t really matter all that much. They both function the same way and will serve the same purpose.
You might have a preference based on aesthetic appeal, though. For most people, this isn’t going to be something that they will put much thought into.
You Could Technically Have a Bathtub Without an Overflow Drain
Technically, it is possible to have a bathtub without an overflow drain. You might purchase some sort of antique bathtub because you like how it looks aesthetically and it might not come with an overflow drain.
This is going to be less than convenient in many ways, but you can get around this. There are generally going to be laws about needing to have certain things to prevent flooding in your bathroom.
You’ll need to be especially careful if you live in an apartment complex, condo, or rental home. Your landlord might have specific rules against you having a bathtub that doesn’t feature an overflow drain.
Even as a homeowner you’re going to need to worry about this issue. You might own your property outright, but that doesn’t mean that your homeowner’s insurance company won’t refuse to cover certain things if you don’t have an overflow drain.
Many insurance policies note that they won’t cover flooding damage if you don’t have proper overflow drains on your bathtub. So you’re likely going to want to have an overflow drain no matter what.
That being said, it is sometimes allowed for you to have an alternative flooding prevention method in place. Some people will have floor drains in their bathrooms that will ensure that any water that gets on the floor will drain instead of leaking elsewhere.
This might not be as ideal as using a simple bathtub overflow drain, though. It’s still worth knowing that some people use these drains just in case.
Why Wouldn’t You Want an Overflow Drain?
Most people do want overflow drains because they make things safer in your bathroom. They’re very good for preventing flooding issues and it makes sense to want a tub that has an overflow drain.
However, there are people out there who like the look of freestanding bathtubs. Sometimes people think that freestanding tubs look better without the overflow drains.
If you find the look of freestanding tubs to be irresistible, then you might want to choose one of those tubs and forgo having an overflow drain. You can do this if you want to, but you’ll need to be careful to prevent flooding issues from occurring.
In some instances, you won’t be allowed to do this, though. It might depend on plumbing codes in your area as well as whether or not you’re a homeowner.
You should also consider that overflow drains can indeed be installed in freestanding bathtubs. In fact, your bathtub is likely to be positioned near a wall anyway, and it’s possible to hide the plumbing in the walls.
If you want things to be as convenient as possible for you, then you should probably just go with an overflow drain. The choice is ultimately up to you, but you will need to potentially jump through some hoops if you want to forgo having an overflow drain.
Can the Overflow Drain Stop Functioning Properly?
It is indeed possible for an overflow drain to stop functioning properly under certain circumstances. The most common reason why a bathtub will flood despite having an overflow drain has to do with blockage.
If something is blocking the overflow drain, then it isn’t going to be able to drain the water. Even if the drain is working a little bit, it might not be able to drain water fast enough to keep the tub from flooding.
This is why it’s imperative to keep your overflow drain clear. Don’t put things in front of it or otherwise prevent it from being able to work as intended.
Overflow drains could stop functioning when they get old as well. Older overflow drains might have issues with leaking that will prevent them from working exactly how they’re supposed to.
Fixing Overflow Drain Leaking Issues
It’s possible to fix overflow drain leaking issues by troubleshooting and figuring out what’s wrong. Depending on what’s happening, it’s possible that your overflow drain could have certain things wrong with it.
One of the more common issues involves the gasket needing to be replaced. This isn’t necessarily hard to do, but some people choose to call plumbers to handle this sort of work.
If you have the necessary tools and a bit of experience, it’s going to be possible to fix an overflow drain yourself. You just need to determine where the leak is coming from to see what’s wrong.
To replace the gasket you’ll need to unscrew the overflow drain plate. With this done, it’s necessary to pull out the plate and the drain plug so that you’ll be able to access what you need to look at.
Take the old gasket out and examine it to see what kind it is. You can take this old gasket to the hardware store to help you get the right new gasket to put in the overflow drain.
When you have the right part, you’ll want to use lubrication on the new gasket and then fit it into the hole. Ensure that the seal is tight before you put everything back together.
Put the drain plug and the cover back in place when you’re ready to move on. Screw everything back together and your leak problems should be solved.
If something else is wrong, then you might have a more complex issue on your hands. At this point, it’d be wise to call a plumber to get things taken care of promptly.
You now know a lot about overflow drains and why they’re so important. Overflow drains are truly useful and they help people to keep from flooding their bathrooms.
If bathtubs didn’t have overflow drains, then more people would wind up accidentally flooding their homes each year. It’s easy to get distracted in modern times and you wouldn’t want to ruin your bathroom due to leaving the faucet running in the tub.
Thankfully, overflow drains work really well, and just about any modern tub that you buy will have an overflow drain of some sort. There are some types of tubs that don’t always have overflow drains, though.
Antique tubs won’t always have overflow drains and some people really love the look of those. Some people prefer to use modern freestanding bathtubs that don’t use overflow drains either.
You can still install overflow drains in those types of tubs, though. Since it’s possible to hide the plumbing in the wall, it really isn’t going to hurt the aesthetic appeal of those tubs very much if at all.
In fact, you can get overflow drains that will match up very nicely with the aesthetic of the tub that you have chosen. It isn’t as if overflow drains look unsightly, but it’s about your sensibilities and what you want at the end of the day.
Remember that there are laws about having overflow drains to prevent flooding, too. If you do decide to forgo installing an overflow drain in your tub, then you’ll need a drainage solution that falls in line with local laws.
You’ll also need to consider what your insurance company requires for your homeowner’s insurance policy. That’s a lot to consider and it makes it more plausible to simply use an overflow drain as normal.
Even if you are technically allowed to avoid using an overflow drain in certain circumstances, it’s usually best to have one anyway. Take what you learned today and make the best decision so that you can protect your property and avoid flooding issues.