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Tub Drain Removal Overview

A clogged pipe can cause a lot of plumbing problems. It can be difficult to unclog a bathtub drain, especially if there is a complex drain assembly design. Removing the tub stopper makes the unclogging process a lot easier. However, the process of moving the tub stopper itself can be a bit tricky. In order to take it off, you need to identify what kind of stopper it is and learn how to uninstall that particular type of stopper.

Toe Touch Tub Stoppers

This is a common stopper that opens and closes with a simple push of your toe. The only tool you’ll need for removal is a flathead screwdriver. When it is in its open position, hold the shaft cylinder and turn the top part counter-clockwise. Release your hold on the shaft cylinder if it tries to move with the top part and carefully continue to unscrew the stopper. For some models of toe touch stoppers, turning the cap top will only allow you to unscrew the top finished cap portion. You will have to unscrew the cap entirely if this is the case.

Once the top cap is unscrewed, lift it off and unscrew the shaft cylinder counter clockwise to remove the threaded post.

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Pop-Up Stopper

This type of drain has a stopper that is controlled by a mechanism. The first step of removal is to rotate the overflow faceplate or flip the trip lever to initiate the open position. Some pop-up stoppers must be “wiggled” back and forth while being pulled up, and others pull straight up without effort. If there is a rocker arm, put a clean cloth on the bottom of the tub starting at the drain to prevent the rocker from causing scratches.

Lift and Turn Tub Stopper

This isn’t the easiest stopper to remove. You’ll need a set of Allen wrenches and a flathead screwdriver. If you see no set screw on the knob, just turn the stopper counter clockwise until the stopper unthreads from the strainer, and lift off the stopper. Post threads may need to be stripped if the stopper does not lift off and continues to spin around without unscrewing.

If there is a small screw on the post shaft beneath the stopper when it’s still in the open position, use the screwdriver or wrench to loosen or remove the screw. You might have a lift or turn tub stopper that has a built-in channel and strainer on which it rotates. For this type of stopper, lift and begin rotating counter clockwise until the channel slot aligns with the strainer pin. This will release the stopper and allow you to pull upwards.

Push-Pull Tub Stopper

Trip Lever/Plunger Style StopperFor this removal, you’ll need pliers, a clean rag, and flathead screwdriver. The knob on top of the stopper must be removed. Hold the body in place with one hand, and turn the knob counter clockwise with your other hand to remove the stopper. If needed, wrap the cloth around the knob and use the pliers to help with the removal process. Next, unscrew the brass insert in the centre of the stopper. The post, which is threaded into the crossbar of the strainer, needs to be turned counter clockwise. When loose, lift the stopper.

Trip Lever/Plunger Style Stopper

With this type of tub drain, a stopper is inside the waste/overflow pipe. It is activated with the use of a trip lever. This assembly typically has a strainer plate screwed into the body of the drain as a cover, and can be changed or removed simply by removing the screws. To start, only one screw from the faceplate should be removed. Hold the faceplate in place while removing the second screw. When removing the trip lever, pull out and away from the bathtub wall. A bit of wiggling is necessary if it doesn’t want to come off.

You can adjust the plunger by either loosening or tightening the adjustable linkage that connects the lever to the stopper. The stopper is typically located inside the pop with this type of drain.