Bathtub stoppers that do not close all the way in the tub's drain need to be cleaned and readjusted in order to correct the problem. You should be able to fill the bathtub with water and close the drain's stopper without having any of the water in the tub leak out past the stopper.
Clean the Stopper
Buildup made of hair, soap and other debris can prevent a tub's stopper from closing all the way if the debris makes a big enough of an obstacle. Pull up on the top of the stopper to remove it from the drain opening. Clean the stopper and the arm that is attached to it with a rag, removing all of the buildup. Press the stopper back into the drain opening and try closing it again to see if you have solved the problem.
Adjust Stopper's Arm
The stopper's height adjustment can be the cause of the stopper not sealing properly, meaning you must change the adjustment to a lower setting so the stopper will start working correctly. Remove the stopper and its arm again. Turn the nut on the underside of the stopper to adjust its height so the stopper sits lower. Reinsert the stopper and arm into the bathtub drain opening.
Remove and Adjust Linkage
The linkage part of the bathtub stopper's assembly also affects how the stopper seals in the drain. The linkage sits inside the bathtub's overflow drain, so you must remove the cover that sits over the overflow drain opening in order to access the linkage. Remove the screws on the overflow drain cover and pull out enough of the linkage attached to the backside of the cover that you can see the nut on the linkage. Turn the nut so the linkage becomes shorter, allowing the stopper to sit lower in the drain opening. Replace the linkage and reattach the overflow drain cover using the screws.
Test Your Adjustments
Once you have adjusted the bathtub's stopper assembly, you need to test those adjustments by filling the tub with water with the stopper in the closed position. Watch to see if water still escapes past the stopper, meaning it still is not closing all the way. You may have to adjust the stopper's arm and the linkage assembly multiple times to get the stopper to seal properly.
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