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Originally published Monday, August 6, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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Replacing a tub filler

Ed the Plumber: Changing a tub filler could be a challenge.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Q: We have a separate whirlpool tub set up in our master bathroom and I'm having an issue with the fill valve. The faucet on the tub is old and loose and needs to be changed, but I can't figure out exactly what to get for a replacement part. It looks and operates like a two-handle widespread faucet, but it seems larger than a regular faucet. Can I just install a new standard faucet to take its place? My wife said to check with you first.

— Steve, Rhode Island

A: On large stand-alone whirlpools, a plumbing fixture called a "tub filler" is usually installed to fill the tub with water. Tub fillers can look and operate like a regular two-handle bathroom faucet. But, as you noticed, they're usually larger than a standard sink faucet.

The reason for the larger size is because a big tub or whirlpool usually needs an extra flow of water, so that the tub can be filled in a timely manner. Standard bathroom faucets may have half-inch water-line connectors, while a tub filler may have three-quarter-inch line connectors.

With larger water lines feeding the tub filler and the greater flow of water that a tub filler can deliver, the whirlpool or tub can now be filled before the water cools.

I recommend calling a licensed master plumber for this job since you will probably have to get access under the whirlpool tub. Plus, you want to get a new tub filler that's made to fit your existing whirlpool setup.

Bottom line: Don't get in "over your head" with this big tub.

Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call," the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write eadelg@cs.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.

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