How To Remove Bathtub Drain Stopper

Last Updated On May 26, 2022
How To Remove Bathtub Drain Stopper (1)

Do you need to remove your bathtub drain stopper but find yourself slightly confused in how to operate it? You may want to remove the stopper in order to get a better look into your bathtub drain for clogs, or replace it with a brand new stopper. There are a lot of different types of drain stoppers, and some function slightly differently than others. 

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What you need to know about how to remove a bathtub drain stopper
  • How to remove a bathtub drain stopper (5 Steps)
  • Removing different types of drain stoppers
  • Common problems with removing a bathtub drain stopper

What's In This Guide?

      What You Need to Know About How to Remove a Bathtub Drain Stopper 

      Drain Clogs

      The two main reasons to remove a tub stopper are to get better access to your bathtub drain or to replace the old drain stopper with a new stopper. 

      You may want access to your tub drain or shower drain if you suspect a drain clog. In most cases, a tub clog develops thanks to an accumulation of hair or soap scum buildup in pipes.  

      A drain stopper with a drain basket or a mesh drain strainer can hinder the process along with regular enzyme drain cleaning maintenance, but all tub drains will experience clogs over time. 

      Understanding Your Bathtub Drain

      Your bathtub drain may or may not include an overflow drain that prevents water from reaching a certain level. Without an overflow drain, you may overflow the tub if you aren’t careful. 

      There’s also the standard tub drain. Your drain stopper is threaded into the tub drain. The most common sizes for a bathtub drain are ⅜” (fine-threaded) or ½” (coarse threaded). 

      A tub drain stopper fits into the drain. The drain stopper itself typically consists of the drain stopper and the internal flange, or external drain strainer (similar to a kitchen sink drain cover).

      There will also be a washer or other sealants to prevent the drain stopper from leaking. Removing the actual drain is a slightly different task, and best aided by using a special bathtub drain removal tool.

      Once the water goes down the tub drain, it will encounter a P trap, designed to prevent sewer gases from entering back into your home. 

      When the water makes it past the P trap, it travels out of your home through your home’s drain pipe to the main sewer line or your private septic system where the wastewater will be treated before being released back into the soil.

      did you know How To Remove Bathtub Drain Stopper

      Types of Bathtub Stoppers

      There are numerous different types of bathtub drain stoppers with different components. It’s important to understand that certain tub stoppers may remove slightly differently than others. 

      The different stoppers generally have a name that describes how they operate:

      • Pop up drain stopper
      • Toe touch drain stopper
      • Push pull drain stopper 
      • Lift and turn drain stopper
      • Flip lever drain stopper
      • Drain cover

      The stoppers usually connect to a cross bar (push pull stopper, toe touch stopper, and lift and turn stopper) or an overflow plate (pop up drain stopper and flip lever drain stopper). 

      Drain covers, on the other hand, don’t fit into the drain and simply cover the drain. See this post for reviews of the best drain stoppers.

      How to Remove a Bathtub Drain Stopper (5 Types)

      Follow these steps to remove a standard bathtub drain stopper.

      Step 1: Open Drain Stopper

      In most cases, you need to put the drain stopper in the open position to begin the process. 

      A drain stopper in the open position allows water through the drain. 

      Step 2: Remove the Cover

      With the stopper in the open position, remove the cover or the knob. 

      In most cases, you will need to use a screwdriver to remove the cover. 

      For a push pull drain stopper and some toe touch stoppers, you may only need to turn the knob counterclockwise until the cover comes off. 

      Step 3: Loosen Setscrew

      Many stoppers have a set screw that requires a smaller screwdriver or a hex key to remove it. 

      You do not want to completely remove the set screw but loosen it. 

      Step 4: Remove Hardware

      Remove the rest of the stopper and any mounting post or additional hardware. 

      Step 5: Remove Drain Basket

      Your drain basket can be removed using a drain wrench or locking pliers. 

      Keep in mind that the drain basket may have a long screw that takes a significant amount of time to unscrew.  

      Removing Different Types of Tub Stoppers

      Lift and Turn Drain Stopper

      • Remove the knob by turning it 
      • Unscrew bolt from crossbar
      • Lift and remove

      Pop Up Drain Stopper

      • Open drain
      • Use needle-nose pliers to remove plug and rocker arm
      • Unscrew overflow faceplate with a screwdriver
      • Remove rod assembly

      Push and Pull Drain Stopper

      • Unscrew knob with a screwdriver
      • Unthread bolt from crossbar 
      • Lift and remove

      Touch Toe Drain Stopper

      • Open drain stopper
      • Unthread drain stopper cover by turning it
      • Unscrew the fastening screw
      • Lift and remove

      Trip Lever Drain Stopper

      • Open drain stopper
      • Unscrew and remove overflow grate with screwdriver
      • Pull out drain assembly

      Common Problems with Removing a Bathtub Drain Stopper

      How do you remove a bathtub drain stopper without screws?

      Watch how to remove a lift and turn drain stopper:

      Most bathtub drain stoppers have a screw to keep the cover in place, but others don’t have a screw. 

      To remove a bathtub drain stopper without a screw, you will need to put the stopper in the closed position then use pliers to turn the cover counterclockwise (left loosey). 

      The cover will get looser and looser until you are able to remove it. 

      How to remove a stuck bathtub drain stopper

      A bathtub drain stopper can be difficult to remove if it was overtightened during installation or if the stopper hasn’t been removed for an extended period of time. 

      If your bathtub drain stopper feels stuck, you may want to use WD40 to lubricate the stopper and help it loosen up. 

      How to remove a broken bathtub drain stopper

      When a bathtub drain stopper breaks, you may struggle with how to remove it.

      The most common way for a stopper to break is if the knob becomes removed before you’re ready. 

      In this case, you will use a screwdriver to enter the post and wiggle it free. 

      FAQS On How to Remove a Bathtub Drain Stopper

      How to remove a Moen pop up bathtub drain stopper

      A Moen pop up bathtub drain stopper can be removed using the following instructions:

      Open the drain stopper. Next, remove the drain stopper plug and faceplate. Loosen the set screw with a screwdriver. After you loosen the set screw, you should be able to remove the rod assembly. 

      How to remove a toe touch bathtub drain stopper

      In order to remove a toe touch bathtub drain stopper, follow the following steps:

      • Open drain stopper
      • Unthread drain stopper cover by turning it
      • Unscrew the fastening screw
      • Lift and remove

      How do you remove a push drain stopper?

      Use the following steps to remove a push drain stopper:

      • Unscrew knob with a screwdriver
      • Unthread bolt from crossbar 
      • Lift and remove

      Why can’t I remove my bathtub drain stopper?

      If you can’t remove your bathtub drain stopper, it may be stuck thanks to overtightening during the installation process or sediment buildup on the drain assembly that hasn’t been cleaned properly over the years. See this article for how to remove a shower drain cover.

      Use a lubricant, such as WD40 or pipe penetrating oil. (Confirm it won’t stain your tub finish before use!) You can also use your screwdriver to wiggle the drain assembly to loosen it up.

      Looking for a shower drain cover instead? Read these reviews:

      Meet Your Plumbing Navigator

      Plumbing Navigator: plumbing advice

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We’re passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, “how-to”, and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

      Learn More Plumbing Tips

      Want to tackle more plumbing projects? Check out these helpful guides!

      how to get a broken snake out of a drain pipe
      How to Stop a Gurgling Bathroom Sink
      How to Fix a Toilet Water Supply Line Leak 5 Easy Steps
      How To Remove Recessed Faucet Aerator (1)

      Got Plumbing Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      Recently Published Guides