How to Remove a Bathtub Drain Stopper

removing bathtub drain stopper

Why Would I Need to Remove My Bathtub Drain Stopper?

There are plenty of reasons to remove a drain stopper in your bathtub. You may need to fix a clogged drain, perform routine drain cleaning, or replace the stopper. Here’s a closer look at why you’d need to remove your bathtub drain stopper:

  • Clogged drain: Trying to unclog a drain while your drain stopper is in place makes this frustrating task more difficult. Removing the drain stopper allows you full access to the drain pipe and may even clear out the drain in some cases.
  • Drain cleaning: Drain cleaning is a great way to keep clogs from forming. But to access the drain and properly clean it, you need to remove the stopper. It’s well worth the effort, as it can prevent damage from clogs and keep your tub drain running smoothly.
  • Stopper replacement: Even bathtub stoppers don’t last forever. They can get caked with calcium buildup, degrade, and stop working due to age.

There’s a good chance you can remove and even replace your stopper on your own. To help, we’ve created several step-by-step guides on how to remove some of the most common stoppers.

How to Remove a Toe-Touch Tub Stopper

This style opens and closes with the touch of your toe. It is usually circular and flat at the top, with no tabs or knobs. Here’s how to replace a toe-touch tub stopper:

  1. Place the stopper in the “open” position as if you are draining the tub.
  2. Hold the base of the cylinder while turning the top cap counterclockwise. If the entire unit moves as you turn, let go of the cylinder base and continue to unscrew until you can remove the unit completely. Some toe-touch stoppers have a top cap that unscrews from a base cylinder that is threaded into a crossbar in the strainer. Others are just one unit threaded into the crossbar.
  3. If your stopper has a top cap, twist it counterclockwise to remove it. Once the top cap is removed, turn the cylinder base clockwise and pull it free. In some cases, you may need to use a standard flathead screwdriver to unscrew the cylinder from the strainer crossbar.

How to Remove a Push-Pull Tub Stopper

This type of stopper has a knob at the top. Pushing the knob down closes the drain, and pulling up opens it. Here’s how to remove a push-pull tub stopper:

  1. Remove the knob on top of the stopper. Use one hand to hold the base of the stopper in place and turn the knob counterclockwise until it is completely off. If the knob is too tight to unscrew by hand, wrap a washcloth or rag around the knob and use standard pliers to loosen it.
  2. Once the knob is removed, look for a post that connects the stopper to the crossbar of the strainer. Unscrew the post using a standard flathead screwdriver and lift the post off of the strainer.

How to Remove a Lift and Turn Tub Stopper

Similar in appearance to the push-pull style, the lift and turn stopper is operated by lifting and turning the knob in opposite directions to open and close the drain. Here’s how to remove a lift and turn stopper:

  1. With the stopper in the open position, use one hand to hold the body of the stopper in place.
  2. Slowly turn the knob counterclockwise and look for a screw set on the knob. If there isn’t one, turn the stopper counterclockwise to unthread it from the strainer until it can be removed. Sometimes, the post threads may be stripped, making it difficult to unscrew the stopper. If this happens, try gently pulling upward while turning the stopper. If your stopper has no visible screw set on the knob and won’t unscrew, lift the stopper and turn as you look for a small screw.
  3. Use a standard flathead screwdriver or an Allen wrench (hex key) to loosen the set screw. You shouldn’t have to completely remove the screw to remove the stopper. Be very careful with this process; if the screw is removed entirely, it can fall down the drain. If there is no set screw on either the knob or the stopper, it likely uses a channel/pin mechanism.
  4. Lift the stopper and slowly rotate it counterclockwise to align the slot at the bottom of the channel with the pin on the strainer.
  5. Pull upwards to release the stopper.

How to Remove a Flip-It® Tub Stopper

Instead of a knob on the top, the Flip-It® tub stopper has a flip tab or toggle that opens or closes the drain when it’s flipped back and forth. This stopper type is typically easy to remove.

To remove it, grasp the body of the stopper and use a gentle twisting motion (in either direction) or wiggle it back and forth while pulling upward until the stopper pops free.

What to Do After You Remove the Bathtub Drain Stopper – Call Mr. Rooter Plumbing

Now that you know how to remove bathtub drain stoppers of all kinds, you can get to the root of the issue - the clog in your drain. However, unclogging the bathtub drain yourself, is difficult, so call Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Our friendly professionals can tackle the problem with their drain clearing and bathtub repair services.