How to Replace a Bathtub Drain Stopper, Plunger type

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A bathtub drain stopper of the plunger type has an overflow plate in the wall of the tub, with a lever to move the plunger up and down. There is no stopper visible at the drain. Drain parts can wear and corrode over time, requiring replacement. This is an easy tub repair that the average homeowner can do using a few common tools. You can change just the faceplate, if the drain stopper still works well, or replace the whole assembly. Here's how to do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Scrubbing sponge
  • Old towels
  • Remove the two screws from the overflow plate, and pull the faceplate loose. If you are only replacing the plate, use pliers to straighten and remove the cotter pin holding the lever to the stopper linkage. Otherwise, pull the whole assembly up and out of the overflow tube. This may take a little jiggling around and twisting. Keep working the unit up and down until it comes free.

  • Connect the new overflow plate lever to the linkage, existing or new, using the new cotter pin provided. Secure the pin by bending the ends over.

  • For an all-new assembly, adjust the nut and threaded rod of the linkage to match the length of the original unit. Tighten the lock nut to keep the adjustment secure. Then, feed the plunger and linkage down the overflow pipe until the faceplate can sit against the wall of the tub.

  • Clean any crud or tasty morsels from around the face plate area with a scrubbing sponge, then install the plate using the new screws provided. The cut out portion of the faceplate flange should face downward.

  • Test the new stopper by setting the lever to the closed (up) position, and partially filling the bathtub with water. If it leaks, remove the unit, and adjust the linkage to place the plunger a bit lower, and repeat the test.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cover the drain opening with a towel while you work to keep screws or debris from falling in.
  • Plunger and linkage will operate smoother and last longer if you coat them with plumber's silicone grease, available at home centers.
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