The bathtub is something you use every day, and you want it to work every time. Sometimes clogs stop up the drain and that is so frustrating. It is, therefore, important to know how to unclog a bathtub drain. This seemingly tiny piece of knowledge keeps down a little bit of stress in your life and helps things to run smoother. There are quite a few things you might use to unclog a bathtub drain. Many are home remedies:
1. Vinegar and Baking Soda
The best ways to unclog bathtub drainpipes is with vinegar, baking soda, and scalding hot water. The volcanic eruption that happens in classroom experiments happens in your drain, eating away at hair, dirt, and grease. Hair clogs block many drains. Remedy this by using a teakettle of hot water, 1 cup of vinegar, and ¼-cup baking soda.
The power of these items to clean is legendary and will clear your drain. The vinegar will enhance the cleaning power of the vinegar and baking soda. However, clear the drain stopper of debris first. This really helps when drains are completely clogged.
Bleach is a common product found in laundry cabinets and used for all types of cleaning jobs. Millions would not do laundry without it. Now, use this strong cleanser for drains. Unclog bathtub drain with bleach. Great to use before the drain completely stops working. However, when your bathtub drain does clog this is a do-it-yourself remedy that dissolves hair and clogs.
Note that even though either Vinegar or Bleach working great as a cleaner, DO NOT MIX BLEACH & VINEGAR together or having them down the drain at the same time/back-to-back, they will release lethal chlorine gas and might cause Injury.
3. Salt combined with baking soda
Use equal amounts of baking soda and salt and get a foaming reaction. Most people keep these items in the cabinet. So, if you keep them on hand when there is a clogged drain simply grab them and clear the problem.
4. Boiling water
This is a simple fix for a clogged bathtub. Heat water to a steaming level and pour it down the drain. Do it in stages giving the water the opportunity to melt the clog. This is one natural way to clear your drain. It takes a few cups of hot water, and it is simple.
5. Drain snake
This is an official plumbing device used to relieve clogs, and many homeowners own one. Occasionally, things will get into drains that run pretty deep, and will not move. This device is able to reach deep into the drain system and pull out clogs.
6. Wet and dry vacuum
Set the controls to liquid, and then place the wet vacuum hose over the tub drain in a suction type grip. Then try to vacuum the clog into the machine. The wet dry vacuum is a strong tool to have in the event of a bathtub drain clog. If you can get the suction to work over the drain, it might save you the cost of a plumbing bill.
7. Wire hanger
Opening a wire hanger and straightening it helps move clogs. It is, however, important to carefully handle this very old-fashioned technique in order not to damage pipes.
The plunger places pressure on the drain helping to force the clog loose. The pumping action will usually cause the clog to let go and move down the drain unclogging the tub. This little tool is a standard part of the bathroom and is placed in strategically obscure places. Nevertheless, keep one handy, especially if your home is an old house with old plumbing.
9. Dish Liquid
Dish liquid breaks up soap and gunk that clogs drains. It will not affect hair. However, it will loosen the hard surface part of the clog and allow water to move down the drain. It is then possible for the water pressure to push the rest of the clog through.
10. Caustic Soda (Lye)
Handle this method of drain cleaning with extra care. It is toxic and can harm skin, eyes, and pipes. You might consider this a last resort type of remedy. Wear goggles and gloves when handling this substance and keep is away from children.
Use 3 cups of Caustic Soda mixed with a bucket of cold water almost full (3/4). Stir with a wooden utensil then pour it into the drain. Give the concoction 30 minutes then flush with scalding water.
If you live in an apartment:
Apartments have maintenance people to take care of plumbing problems. Unfortunately, you may not be the only tenant with plumbing problems. Maybe, your name leads the list. However, if it does not, there are a few ways to help yourself get the bathtub drain operating again.
Unclog a drain in 5 minutes:
For this remedy, you need a ziplock/cable tie. A long one is best. Purchase these at hardware stores for about three bucks. The tie acts like a plumbing snake but certainly does not have the reach. The ragged edges of the tie grip the clog and pull the debris out when the tie piece is retracted.
Make it easy on yourself by using things you already have available in the kitchen. A few home remedies that have worked for people throughout the years on clogs that are not severe.
If the bathtub drain is moving slowly, initiate these remedies and avoid having to wrestle with the excessive stoppage in your bathtub. Whether it is hair or soap, these remedies work to help bathtub drains run freely.
I like and have used the vinegar and baking soda technique before.
you have given a thorough and complete list of aid’s for tackling this project.
however you and everyone that shares remedies such as these, never know the actual cost of items purchased for the project. like $3 at the hardware store? you’re lucky to get a key made for that price!
though I still appreciate your suggestions. thank you
Thank you for your comment.
Actually for this project, you can get the ziplock/cable tie for $2.99/11-inch 100pk at Harbor Freight, doing a search on their site should give the price.
We’re always verify the cost mentioned in our post.
Suhana Morgan says
What a beautiful post you make just amazing. It is very useful tips and tricks you share. Here are you discuss a very informative cleaning method.
I’m happy that they are useful to you. Thanks for stopping by!
Birgit Horz-Reynard says
Do I mix the baking soda and vinegar before I pour it down the drain?
Nope, just sprinkle baking soda all over then pour vinegar atop. Wait a couple minute until all the bubble disappeared then run through them with hot water.
Birgit Horz-Reynard says
Thanks a lot, I will try it and let you know if it worked.
I love your tip about draining the pipe. My shower is clogged. I’ll have to get a plumber to unclog it.
If your bath begins to drain slowly or stops draining completely, it has probably become blocked by a build-up of hair and grime. This means you will need to remove the drain and unblock it. You will also need to remove an old drain to replace it with a new one.
Of course, you can call in a professional plumber to do it for you. However, removing a drain is quite a simple task, and many people will be able to DIY it. If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, here’s our guide for how to remove a bathtub drain.
We also had a look on YouTube, and there are a whole lot of video showing you how to do this job. There also seem to be about as many different techniques as there are videos, but this is a good one – so check it out if you want to see how it’s done.
Step 1. Remove the stopper
There are many different types of stopper, and the first thing you need to do before you can remove the bathtub drain is to remove the stopper. Here are examples of how to do it with two of the more common versions.
Pop-up stoppers are the kind where you push it down to close it – and then push it once more to make it pop up again when you want to open it.
To remove one, set it to the open position and turn the stopper in a counterclockwise direction to unscrew it.
Next, unscrew the shaft. With some models, you may need to use a screwdriver to do this.
These stoppers are opened and closed by turning a knob on top. To remove one, first, set it in the open position. Hold the body of the stopper in one hand and turn the knob in a counterclockwise direction with the other to remove it.
Once you have removed the knob, you can easily unscrew the rest of the stopper and remove it from the drain.
Note that the procedure is the same for any kind of bathtub, including corner bathtubs, free-standing bathtubs, walk-in bathtubs, and others.
There are many other types of bathtub stopper, and we don’t have space to go into the details of how to remove every kind here.
If you have another kind of stopper, you will need to work out how to remove it to give you access to the drain below. However, for most stoppers, the principle is fairly similar. You will just need to work out how it is attached and then remove the necessary parts.
Once you have removed your stopper, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2. Remove the screen
The screen is the grille that is designed to prevent larger objects from falling into the drain. You also need to remove this before you can gain access to the drain.
Removing it should be easy – simply use a screwdriver to pry it off. Some models have a screw, and if yours does, you just need to unscrew it before you can lift the screen off.
Step 3. Heat the drain to soften the sealant
Once the stopper and the screen have been removed, you’re ready to move onto the main part of the work.
The drain will have been fitted with some kind of sealant like plumber’s putty. To make removal easier, the first thing to do is to soften it up.
You can do this by heating it. The easiest way is to use a hairdryer – simply use the hairdryer to blow hot air into the drain for a few minutes before removing it.
Step 4. Remove the drain
The best way to remove the drain itself is to use a drain wrench. These are special tools that are designed specifically for this purpose. If you use a drain wrench, there is less chance of damaging the drain as you try to remove it.
Drain wrenches have different heads, so the first thing you need to do is find one that fits your drain – it should fit comfortably over the cross at the bottom of the drain.
With the drain wrench in place, turn it counterclockwise to unscrew the drain. This may require some strength, depending on how tight the drain is screwed in and how stiff it is.
To give yourself extra force when turning the drain wrench, you can insert a screwdriver and use it to turn the wrench.
Once you manage to loosen it, simply continue turning until the drain comes free.
If you don’t have a drain wrench, you can also use needle-nose locking pliers. However, this is not preferable since there is more chance of breaking the cross at the bottom of the drain.
To do this, push the pliers into the drain and fix them onto the cross. It is important that you grasp the hub of the cross and not just one of the arms. Otherwise, there is a very good chance you will break the drain.
With the first pair of pliers in place, use another pair of pliers to grasp them and turn. Again, it may be quite stiff at the beginning, but after the drain begins to move, it will be easier going. Keep turning until the drain comes out.
Step 5. Clean the seal
With the drain removed, you can now clean the old seal. Pick off any old sealant that remains around the drain – you may need to use a knife or a screwdriver to scrape it off. Once you have removed all the old sealant, clean the drain well with a cloth and a bathroom cleaning product.
Step 6. Install the new drain
Apply plumber’s putty around the base of the new drain and screw it in using the drain wrench or the pliers as before. As you screw it in, some of the putty will come out around the seal. When you have finished screwing the drain in, you then need to scrape off this putty.
Next, fit the screen if you have one and then fit the stopper. Once everything is in place, you are ready to start using your comfortable bathtub again.
Save yourself some cash by doing it yourself
If you consider yourself even slightly handy, with just a few tools, you can easily remove your bathtub drain by yourself. This will save you a bit of cash that you would otherwise have had to pay the plumber – and at the same time, you will improve your DIY skills.
Removing a bathtub drain is a simple task that just about anyone can manage. If this is something you need to do, just follow our step-by-step guide and you should be able to manage it without too much trouble.
If your tub drain just isn’t doing its job, you may need to take it out to clean or replace it. Rest assured that in just a few simple steps you’ll have the drain out and be on your way to resolving your tub trouble.
Photo: Zillow Digs home in Los Angeles, CA
It’s unfortunate but true: Over time tub drains clog and sometimes even corrode. After all, your bathtub is put to the test every day as you and the other members of your household bathe, forcing all sorts of body care products—and copious amounts of human hair—through the drain and into the pipes beyond.
The day may come when your drain ceases to function. When that happens, you’ll probably need to remove the drain for inspection, followed by either a careful cleaning or a complete replacement.
The removal process isn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming, taking anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours from start to finish, depending on the type of drain you’re dealing with. Yet, as with all things DIY, a few simple instructions will help the task go more smoothly.
While bathtub drains vary by type, they can be sorted into two broad categories: simple drains (including foot lock, roller ball, and lift-and-turn types) and drains with a trip lever (such as pop-up and plunger drains). Instructions for removing both types appear below. Just find your drain style, and follow the step-by-step to remove it yourself.
Type #1: Simple Drains (Foot Lock, Roller Ball, and Lift-and-Turn)
MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Rubber gloves
– Baking soda
– Mild cleanser (optional)
– Blow dryer (optional)
– Drain key or smart dumbbell (if you’re moving the entire drain, including the flange)
Before you disassemble your tub drain, it’s important to note its condition. Excessive amounts of rust, mildew, or decay may indicate a larger problem, in which case professional assistance may be needed. Otherwise, if the drain is in good shape, pull on a pair of rubber gloves and continue on your mission.
- For a foot lock or roller ball plug, simply rotate it counterclockwise until it separates completely from the drain shaft.
- In the case of a lift-and-turn drain, lift the plug and free it by loosening the setscrew underneath. If you find that the setscrew on your lift-and-turn drain is stuck, a series of light-to-medium taps may help to loosen it. Use your wrench or screwdriver to nudge it into motion if necessary, but be careful not to use too much force, which could damage the drain.
Once the drain basket is fully exposed, use a mild cleanser or a mixture of one part vinegar and one part baking soda to wash it off. Also clean the plug or stopper if you’re planning to reinsert it rather than replace it.
Now, fill the tub with an inch or so of water and watch it drain. If the water still drains too slowly, move on to a stronger drain cleaner (one that specifies that it’s suitable for tubs) or turn to a tried-and-true DIY drain cleaner that uses materials you already have on hand. Fill the tub again with about an inch of water, and watch it drain. Repeat as necessary until the tub empties at a reasonable rate, then proceed to reinstall or replace the part(s) you’ve removed.
If you’re removing the entire drain apparatus, including the basket (also known as the flange), insert your drain key or smart dumbbell into the opening. Turn it counterclockwise and continue turning until the drain flange is released, then remove the flange while it’s still attached to the drain key.
Tip: If the flange is stuck, use a hair dryer to heat it up and loosen the putty, then try again.
Once the drain flange has been removed, be sure to clear out any old putty residue from the base of the opening before replacing the flange or installing a new one.
Type #2: Drains with Trip Levers (Pop-Up and Plunger)
MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Rubber gloves
– Drain key or smart dumbbell (if removing the entire drain, including the flange)
– Blow dryer (optional)
– Vinegar and baking soda, or mild cleanser (optional)
Before you begin, check the drain for excessive rust, mildew, or decay, which may indicate a larger problem that may require the services of a professional. If the drain looks to be in good shape, it’s probably fine to proceed.
- If your drain has a visible stopper, then set the lever to the open position and use a screwdriver to remove the trip lever faceplate as well as the lever and linkage.
- If your drain has a trip lever without a visible stopper, use a screwdriver to remove the screws on the trip lever faceplate and move it away from the tub wall; the attached plunger should come out along with it.
Once the drain has been disassembled, use a mild cleanser or a mixture of one part vinegar and one part baking soda to wash it off. Also clean the plug or stopper if you’re planning to reinsert it rather than replace it.
Now, fill the tub with approximately one inch of water and watch it drain. If the tub still drains slowly, try your luck with a stronger, tub-specific commercial drain cleaner or a homemade cleaner and repeat the drain test.
When the tub again drains properly, reinstall the cleaned drain parts or replace them with new ones. If you choose to remove the entire drain apparatus, including the flange, use a drain key or smart dumbbell as described in Steps 3 and 4 above.
Although a number of DIY plumbing projects fall outside of most homeowners’ comfort zones, removing a tub drain is a relatively accessible task. The best rule of thumb when you’re tackling any new plumbing job is to proceed with an abundance of caution and remember that if complications arise, a professional plumber is just a quick phone call away.
There might come a time when you need to remove a tub drain in your bathtub. Although we tend to think of the tub drain purely as the hole through which the water disappears, it’s a more complex unit than that which consists of the drain itself, the overflow pipe and the control for the tube stopper which are all interconnected. It’s a job that doesn’t requite much plumbing skill but which can prove awkward if it’s difficult to gain access to the drain area. Although it’s not vital, it can be easier to turn off the water to the tub before beginning the job.
Step 1 – Access
Most people will not replace the tub drain unless there’s a specific need for it, such as a problem with the tub draining or fitting a new model. The first important hurdle to overcome is to have proper access to the drain area of the tub. Where there’s a crawl space behind the tub, this can be quite easy. When no such space exists, you might be forced to work in cramped conditions from the side of the tub. This will not only lengthen the job but also make it more frustrating.
Even with a crawl space, the wooden frame might limit access. If it’s old and in need of replacement, cut some of it away to offer proper access at the start of the job.
Step 2 – Drain Basket
The first part of the drain to be removed is the drain basket which is in the tub itself. While some can be unscrewed with just a pair of crossed screwdrivers, the job will be a lot easier using a specialized tool called a basket wrench which designed purely for this job. Unfortunately, it isn’t in most tool boxes. By applying the basket wrench, you will be able to unscrew and remove the drain basket from the tub drain.
Step 3 – Overflow
The next thing to do is to uncouple the overflow pipe. Use a wrench on the nut and when it’s fully loosened, ease it away from the tub overflow fitting. Pull out the old fitting. If the nut doesn’t want to turn, use some penetrating oil on the nut and wait a few minutes before trying again. It should now turn quite easily. The overflow tube behind the tub will join into the main drain pipe. Use the wrench to loosen this and remove the overflow pipe.
Step 4 – Stopper
To remove the stopper, which controls the opening and closing of the tub drain, begin by unscrewing the two screws holding it in place in the tub. Disconnect the knob from the control behind the tub and remove the stopper control from inside the tub.
Step 5 – Drain
In order to remove the drain from under the tub, you will need to disconnect the main tub drain tube at the point where it joins the house plumbing. Use a wrench to do this. When completely loose, you will be able to ease out the entire tub drain from the tub. To finish the job, use cleaner in the tub to erase the marks made by the drain basket, the overflow cover and the stopper control, especially if you’re planning on replacing the fittings.
Removing a tub drain is necessary if you’re removing or replacing the bathtub or if the drain fitting is badly corroded or it leaks and needs to be replaced. The drain fitting is a metal basket-like piece that has a lip or flange at the top and a body with threads on the outside. It screws into the elbow, or shoe, of a horizontal length of pipe that extends toward the end of the tub and ties into the drain pipe assembly.
Inside most drain fittings are two metal crossbars that form an “X” to prevent large items from falling into the drain. The crossbars are what make it possible to remove the drain with a plug wrench or pliers:
- Plug wrench: A plug wrench is a small wrench made of cast iron or steel that is milled to fit the crossbars of two or more different sizes of drains. If you expect to be removing your tub drain more than once, it will be worthwhile to purchase this inexpensive item. Also, because the head is form-fitted to the drain’s cross, there is less chance of accidentally breaking off the cross.
- Pliers: Short of a plug wrench, the best substitute is a set of needle-nose locking pliers. The pliers need to be small enough to reach into the drain and through the cross. Once the locking pliers are secured, you use a pair of standard pliers to turn the locking-pliers and loosen the drain.
If your drain doesn’t have crossbars, you’ll need to use a tool called a tub drain extractor. It has a conical shape and helical knurls that grip the metal wall on the inside of the drain fitting. You turn the extractor with an adjustable wrench, as with a plug wrench.
Tub drains are stubborn, often due to corrosion, gunk, or hardened plumber’s putty. Heat helps to loosen old plumber’s putty. If the tub is very cold, gently blow warm air from a heat gun or a hair drier over it for a few minutes to soften the putty before removing the drain.
What You’ll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Small flat-head screwdriver
- Plug wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Locking needle-nose pliers
- Standard pliers
Remove the Tub Stopper or Screen
Remove the drain stopper or screen to gain access to the tub’s drain fitting. If the tub has a screen, simply pry underneath the screen with a small flat-head screwdriver to pop it off. Tubs with screens usually have a bucket, or plunger, type stopper assembly that stops the water inside the drain pipe.
If the tub has no screen, it likely will have a stopper set into the drain opening. The method to remove it depends on the stopper type. Stoppers that you open and close by moving the stopper itself usually unscrew from the drain or are secured with a setscrew. Stoppers that you operate with a lever on the overflow drain plate may have a metal rocker arm that extends through the horizontal portion of the tub drain pipe. Carefully pull the stopper and rocker arm from the drain.
Remove the Drain With a Plug Wrench
Insert the end of the plug wrench into the drain opening so the tines on the wrench fit onto the crossbars of the drain. Most plug wrenches have more than one size of head; use the head that makes the snuggest fit.
Turn the plug wrench counterclockwise with a large adjustable wrench or tongue-and-groove pliers to loosen the drain. Unthread the drain all the way by hand once it is loose enough.
Remove the Drain With Locking Pliers
Insert a pair of locking needle-nose pliers into the drain opening as far as jaws will go. Make sure the jaws are on opposite sides of the crossbars, over the center of the “X”. Clamp the locking pliers they grip the crossbars tightly.
Grip the locking pliers with a set of standard pliers, grabbing as low as possible on the locking pliers so that they do not interfere with the locking action. Turn the pliers counterclockwise. Be patient and go slowly.
After a few rotations, the tub drain should be loose enough so that you can set aside the second set of pliers and turn the locking pliers by hand.
Clean the Drain Opening
Use a flat-head screwdriver or a putty knife and a rag to remove the old ring of plumber’s putty from around the drain opening. Try not to let the putty fall into the drain because it never breaks down and could start a clog.
If you’re replacing the old tub drain with a new one, take the old piece to the store with you to be sure you get the right replacement part.
If you’re looking to replace an old bathtub drain, it’s not difficult to do the job yourself. Read these steps to learn more.
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Requiring only a few tools, replacing a bathtub drain is a fairly simple job that virtually anyone can do. To begin, you’ll need the following items on hand:
- Drain wrench
- Drain fitting (the basket-shaped piece that sits just under the stopper)
How to Clear a Clogged Bathtub Drain
Steps to Remove a Bathtub Drain
Step 1: Identify the stopper
There are many types of bathtub stoppers. Three common models that don’t rely on a trip lever mechanism are the toe-touch, the push-pull, and the lift-and-turn. The toe-touch stopper pops open and shut when you press on it.
The push-pull features a center knob that you push in to close or pull out to open. Finally, the lift-and-turn resembles the push-pull, but it requires you to lift and turn the stopper (clockwise to close, counterclockwise to open).
If your stopper is connected to a trip lever mechanism, it’s either a pop-up model or plunger-style (also known as a bucket stopper). The pop-up typically features a visible stopper that’s raised or lowered by the trip lever, while the plunger relies on an internal stopper to block the water when the lever is activated; in those setups, the drain is typically covered by a screen or strainer.
Step 2: Remove the stopper
Toe-touch stoppers are relatively easy to remove—just pop open the stopper and unscrew the shaft cylinder by turning it counterclockwise.
- To remove a push-pull stopper, set it in the open position and turn the knob counterclockwise with one hand while holding the body of the stopper in the other. For increased leverage, hold onto the body with a towel and use a pair of pliers to turn the knob.
- For the lift-and-turn, set the drain to open. Hold the body of the stopper and turn the knob to look for a set screw on the knob. If there is one, unscrew it using a screwdriver or hex key.
- Turn the stopper counterclockwise until it’s free from the mounting post, and then remove the mounting post with pliers.
- For a pop-up stopper, flip the lever to open the drain and pull the stopper straight up along with the metal (“rocker”) arm that extends through the drainpipe. If it doesn’t come out easily, jiggle it gently as you pull up.
- The stopper of the plunger-style setup is found inside the drainpipe, not near the drain opening.
- To take it out, remove the screws from the faceplate of the trip lever, then carefully pull the faceplate away. The rest of the hardware should follow; jiggle as necessary to loosen the entire structure and pull it out.
- If there’s a screen or strainer in the bathtub, pry it off with a flathead screwdriver (removing any screws first).
Changing the drain in a utility tub can be a tiring procedure, but if you don’t properly replace the tub drain, you can find yourself having problems with leaks, poor water drainage, or even completely blocked pipes. This problem can be solved by replacing the old utility tub drain with a new one. These can be bought from local hardware stores, or even on the Internet. Fitting the new one should not be terribly difficult; if you have basic home improvement skills, you shouldn’t need the assistance of a professional. These simple guidelines will help you get the job done quickly and easily.
Step 1: Remove the Old Drain
The first step is to take off the old drain. Turn your water off completely at the mains to ensure that no water enters the system by accident. Then, remove anything from below your sink, such as cleaning fluids and washing up liquids, and put your arms into the space. Leading down from the drain, you will feel a large pipe. Using your spanner, remove this pipe by unscrewing the nut at the top of the connection. You should then see the drain pan and the filter. You will need to unscrew the filter from its position, and then take the drain cord from around the edge (this is a metal strip with a bolt at one end). Unscrew this, and you should be able to lift the drain away from the sink.
Step 2: Install the New Sink
Next you will have to install the new sink. This can be done fairly easily by unscrewing all of the pieces, and placing them in their separate positions. Screw in the drain pan first, using a new drain cord to tighten the pan onto the lip of the sink. Make sure that these two pieces are tightly connected. You should then use your screwdriver to screw the filter into place.
Step 3: Refit the Pipes
Once that is completed, you will have to replace the pipes you took away in the first step. Place the bottom of the pipe in first and then push it into the top of the filter. Tighten the bolts again, so that it is sealed. You may need to add some caulking around the outside to secure any joins.
Step 4: Finishing
Before you finish the project you will have to turn the water back on, and make sure that the drain is working properly. Check your connections for signs of leakage as the water drains away. Once you are satisfied that it is all fitted together correctly, you can replace your utilities under the sink, and use the drain as before.
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How To Remove Tub Drains
If you need to remove a tub drain but aren’t sure where to start, check out this handy how-to article.No matter how diligent you are, tub drains will inevitably fail at some point. Nearly every time we use a tub or shower, we send much more than just water down the drain. Over time the vast array of personal care products, dirt, and hair builds up in the pipe and can lead to a clog.When you first notice your drain is slow or isn’t working at all, you’ll probably want to fix it. If you’ve tried drain cleaner with little or no success, you’ll likely need to remove the drain. Regardless of what type your tub has, learning how to remove tub drains is easy. Plus, it only requires a few materials.
Before You Begin
Before you start removing your tub drain carefully inspect its condition carefully. Any of the following signs might mean you’re facing a more significant problem that requires a professional:
- Excessive rust on the drain parts
- Visible decay of the drain parts
- Large amounts of mildew or mold
- Recurring clogs
Next, identify what type of drain your tub has. In general, there are two categories of tub drain, those with trip levers and those without. There are a few varieties within each of these categories but don’t worry. They are all very similar. Follow the steps below, and you’ll know how to remove tub drains in no time at all.Also, before you start working, be sure to gather all of the tools you will need to complete the job. For most drain removals you will need the following items:
- Adjustable Wrench
- Recurring clogs
- Smart Dumbell Tool (sometimes called a tub wrench) or Drain Key
- Blow Dryer (optional, but highly recommended)
You probably have most of the tools you need already. But, if something is missing from your toolbox, you can source any of these items at your local home repair store.
Step 1: Remove the Stopper
Drains Without Trip Levers
Compared to their trip lever counterparts, these drains are simple in design. In this category of tub drains, you will find foot lock drains, roller ball drains, and lift and turn drains. Each of these drains is easy to identify and straightforward to remove.
As the name suggests, foot lock drains are operated or “locked” into place with the foot. They are smooth across the top of the plug and feature a rubber ring on the underside. The rollerball type is similar, but these have a small stem for pulling the plug up or pushing it down. Lift and turn drains are those that lift up and twist into place when draining the tub.
Foot Lock and Roller Ball Drains
To remove both foot lock and roller ball drains, begin by removing the stopper. Both types of stoppers can be removed by merely turning them counterclockwise. After the stopper is loose simply, lift it to withdraw it from the tub.
Lift and Turn Drains
To remove the stopper of a lift and turn drain, first lift the stopper and locate the set screw. Carefully loosen the set screw until you can lift the stopper out of the drain. If the set screw is difficult to turn, a few easy taps with a wrench may help loosen it. If the stopper is still stuck, use a wrench to get the motion started.If you resort to using a wrench to loosen the set screw, be careful with the amount of force you use. Excessive force may lead to damage that will have to be repaired by a professional.
Trip Lever Drains
There are two basic types of trip lever drains, pop-up and plunger. If you bathtub drain functions with a trip lever it is simple to tell the two types of drains apart. If there is a visible stopper in your tub that moves up and down with the trip lever, it is a pop-up drain. If there is no visible stopper, it is a plunger type.