Does your tub seem to drain slower than molasses, even after you’ve tried everything from plunging to chemical drain cleaners? The pesky culprit is likely that small apparatus in the bottom of your tub drain – the stopper.
Tub stoppers easily get clogged with hair, soap residue, and other gunk, impeding water flow. Fortunately, most stoppers can be removed for a thorough cleaning. While types vary, the process is straightforward once you know the steps.
Prepare Your Work Area
Before tackling any bathtub drain project:
- Have a bucket handy to catch water.
- Clear away bath mats and accessories.
- Get supplies – basin wrench, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
- Know your stopper style (toe-touch, pop-up, trip lever, etc.).
Toe-Touch Stopper Removal
Toe-touch stoppers have a horizontal plate you push with your toe to start/stop drainage. Underneath, a linkage connects to a round stopper.
To remove this type:
- Peer into the drain hole and locate the stopper toes jutting into the opening.
- Position fingers between stopper plate and drain edges.
- Gently twist toes while pulling straight up to detach linkage.
- Lift entire apparatus from drain hole.
Once removed, use a toothbrush or pipe cleaner to gently scrub the stopper and drain opening to dislodge hair, debris, mineral buildup, and other gunk impeding water flow.
Push-Pull Stopper Removal
As the name implies, this stopper’s knob is pushed down or pulled up to seal or open the drain.
- Locate central knob inside drain hole.
- Twist gently while pulling straight up.
- Extract entire stopper apparatus.
- Clean stopper unit and drain hole.
Replace push-pull stoppers by reversing steps. Ensure stopper aligns properly with drain hole. Test operation before refilling tub!
Lift-and-Turn Stopper Removal
Lift-and-turn stoppers have a tab in the drain center. Lift it up partway, then turn counterclockwise to engage the stopper seal or open the drain.
- Insert fingers or small flathead screwdriver into tab gap.
- Lift gently about 1/2 inch then twist counterclockwise.
- As turned, stopper will rise up for removal.
Examine lift-tab stopper components for cracks or corrosion. Replace if damaged vs trying to reinstall a faulty stopper.
When To Call A Plumber
Tub stopper removal is usually quite straightforward. But call a pro if you encounter:
- Badly corroded or damaged stopper/drain
- Stopper stuck solidly in place
- Ongoing slow drainage despite cleaning
For tough jobs, a plumber has specialized tools to clear drains safely without harming pipes.
Removing and cleaning tub stoppers helps restore proper drainage. Carefully follow the steps for your stopper type. Avoid forcing stuck stoppers. With attention and basic DIY skills, bathtub drain maintenance can extend your plumbing’s lifespan.