How to Fix a Bathtub Drain Stopper

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Sometimes leaks only appear when the tub is at full capacity.
Sometimes leaks only appear when the tub is at full capacity. (Image: down the drain image by pix29 from Fotolia.com)

There are two common tub drain stoppers--pop-up drain stoppers and plunger tub drains. Pop-ups have a stopper in the drain that pops up and down to allow water to pass or stay in the tub. When down, pop-up stoppers cover the opening preventing water from entering the drain. Plunger tub drains have a plunger that hangs below the plunger assembly. The plunger slides down the drain, clogging it to hold water in the tub. Plunger drains usually have a strainer over the drain unstead of a stopper. When a drain stopper doesn’t seal, minor adjustments usually are needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Overflow plate foam gasket

Pop-Up Drains

Turn the lever so that the stopper is up, then pull the stopper out of the drain; twist the stopper if needed. Twist the top of the stopper clockwise if it is an adjustable stopper. Place the stopper back into the drain and turn the lever for the stopper to seal the water in the tub. Reset the stopper in the drain if it does not move. Fill the tub so that the stopper is covered and watch the water level to see if the stopper is sealing. Proceed if the stopper is not sealing.

Lay a towel into the tub and over the drain to prevent damage to the tub and losing pieces down the drain. Unscrew the overflow plate with a screwdriver for non-adjustable stoppers and remove it. Take the trip-lever assembly out and lay it on the towel.

Loosen the locknut on the lift rod with a wrench. Turn the lift rod three to four times clockwise to tighten, then rescrew the locknut with a wrench. Slide the tilt-lever assembly back into place and reinstall the overflow plate with its screws and a screwdriver. Replace the overflow plate foam gasket if it is damaged. Turn the lever to seal the tub and fill it partially with water to test the seal.

Plunger Drains

Lay a towel into the tub and over the drain to prevent damage to the tub and losing pieces down the drain.

Unscrew the overflow plate with a screwdriver and take it off. Pull the plunger assembly out from behind the overflow plate and lay it on the towel.

Loosen the locknut on the lift rod with a wrench. Turn the lift rod three to four times clockwise to tighten, then tighten the locknut with a wrench. Slide the plunger assembly back into place and reinstall the overflow plate with its screws and a screwdriver. Replace the overflow plate’s foam gasket if it is damaged. Turn the lever to seal the tub and fill it partially with water to test the seal.

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References

  • “Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual”; Reader's Digest; 2005
  • “How To Fix Just About Anything”; Bill Marken; 2002
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