How To – Repairing or Replacing a Bathtub Drain Popup

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    Clogs in your bathroom are a problem that everyone will run into eventually. The most common is your toilet and then your sink but over time a clog in your bathtub will build up but luckily cleaning it out is not that hard to do.

    There are two different types of bathtub drains. The first type is a manual popup that you need to pull up and twist to open. The second type works remotely by a lever or a turn knob that is under the bathtub faucet.

    Since the remote actuated popups have levers that are inside the drain they are more likely to clog but eventually even manual popups will clog.

    As you can see in the illustration the drain is normally made out of brass because it is less prone to corrode and the drain pipe will sit under your bathtub and above the floor of your bathroom. Normally you can not access this pipe from a basement in your home but if you need to change it out you may need to cut part of the floor to get it out.

    The drain pipe is installed before the bathtub is put in place and a threaded end will stick up through the hole in the bottom of the tub. On the drain is a rubber gasket and then you screw your bathtub drain popup into the drain pipe.

    Gaskets seal the connection so if you have leaks in the ceiling below the tub that you can’t fix by tightening the drain popup you will need to replace the gasket.¬† If you are replacing the gasket on a popup that is older then 3 years old you might as well just replace the popup because the popup will have signs of corrosion due to the soap and cleaners you use in your bathtub.

    Cleaning a Clog in your Bathtub Drain

    To clean a clog the first thing you need to do is remove the popup cap on the bathtub drain.

    Removing the cap is pretty easy because it simply unscrews however it may be frozen to the insert and you will probably need to use a small vice lock pliers to get a good grip on it.

    Once you get the cap off you will see the cross brace in the center of the drain that supports the thread that the cap attaches to. Hair tends to buildup on this cross brace so using a small screwdriver or other tool may be all you need to do to clean the drain clog. … it is pretty nasty work so have some paper towels ready.

    If your tub is still clogged you will need to remove the popup housing.

    Removing your Bathtub Drain Popup

    Removing your bathtub drain popup can either be very easy or a nightmare… The problem you may run into is that the cross brace in the popup that holds the cap has corroded this will mean that you can not easily get an adapter on the drain and unscrew it from the main pipe.

    Normally you will place the adapter into the drain and then use a wrench to unscrew the drain. Most drains have threads that are coated with plumbers dope or teflon tape. Hopefully you have teflon tape because it will make it much easier to remove the drain popup housing.

    If you find that you snap off t the drain cross brace then you may need to find another tool such as an expansion wrench that is inserted into the hole and then as you screw down a bolt on top of the insert it will force its self to the inside walls of the drain pipe tube giving you enough friction to unscrew the popup housing.

    If you have a fiberglass tub be very careful not to use a chisel to try to hammer the popup lose or you could go through your tub and you may end up replacing your whole tub because you needed to replace a $7 popup housing.

    If your local store does not have a tool to get it out then call a plumber.


    Final Note

    Repairing clogs and replacing your popup is not an extremely easy job because corrosion will cause the pieces to freeze up but it is something that you normally can do yourself.

    Like we said if you need to remove the housing¬† you should replace it unless it is in perfect condition.. don’t try to reuse parts that are corroded.

    Remember to make sure your gasket is in good condition and if needed remember that you can cut a hole in the drywall below the drain to access the pipe. This will not let you get a hold of the popup or housing but if you break something you most likely won’t have to tare down walls .. just cut a few small holes that can be patched like new.





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