How to Take Apart a Bathtub Drain

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Some bathtubs have toe-tap stoppers.
Some bathtubs have toe-tap stoppers. (Image: drain black and white image by askthegeek from Fotolia.com)

A bathtub drain that leaks or is otherwise in need of repair must be taken apart before you can perform any repairs or replace any parts. The hardest part of taking apart a bathtub drain is removing the drain from the bottom of the tub. The drain flange (the visible metal or PVC part in the bottom of the drain) is threaded into the bathtub drain below. But, before you can remove the flange, you must remove the drain stopper, if there is one.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 pliers, wide grip
  • Drain removal tool
  • 2 screwdrivers, Phillips or flathead

Turn off the water supply for the bathtub. This step is optional, but may help prevent accidentally turning the water on while you're working. In newer homes, the water supply shutoff for the tub is typically located somewhere in the bathroom, often underneath the sink counter or in an access panel located somewhere near the tub. In an older home, turn off the water at the sewer main, usually located in a concrete box buried in the lawn somewhere near the curb.

Remove the drain stopper on pull-and-lock models. Look for a small cap on the top of the drain stopper. Lock the drain into the open position by holding the stopper with one pair of pliers while you turn the capper on the top in a counterclockwise direction with another pair of pliers. Pull the stopper out of the drain to remove. Go to Step 4.

Remove the drain stopper on a toe-tap model simply by extending the drain to the open position and then turning it counterclockwise with a wrench. Go to Step 4.

Loosen the drain flange. That's the metal portion of the drain visible at the bottom of the tub. There are a couple ways to go about this, one is by renting or purchasing a drain removal tool at a local hardware or plumbing shop. A second way is to insert two screwdrivers into the drain opening, sliding them through any holes in the bottom of the flange. Use these screwdrivers as handles to turn with a pair of pliers. Rotate counterclockwise to remove the drain.

A flange with holes.
A flange with holes. (Image: down the drain image by pix29 from Fotolia.com)

Pull the drain flange out of the drain opening.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cover pliers with duct tape to prevent scratching the stopper in Step 2.

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