View Full Version : Fixing a bathtub drain plunger

Andrew Pitonyak
02-10-2013, 6:57 AM
I have a 40 year old house, and the bathtub drain wants to stay closed. This is new behavior beginning as of last night.

When I lift the Trip Lever, the water does not drain. Normally, I would then push the "trip lever" down, and this will lift the drain plug inside and allow the water to drain. When I push it down, however, it does not stay down. I can sit and hold it while the water drains...

It looks like I can simply unscrew it and pull the mechanism out, but I have never dealt with this sort of thing in the past. Am I likely to need to replace the top section (the switch), or is there more to it than that?

Joe Kieve
02-10-2013, 7:01 AM
You may be able to find something here to answer your question...


Lee Schierer
02-10-2013, 8:37 AM
There is probably an accumulation of hair and soap scum either on or below the plunger where the tub drain comes in to the overflow tube where the plug is. There should be two screws next to the lever. If you take those two screws out, then pull the lever and linkage up, you should get the drain plug assembly out. Be careful not to drop the screws down the drain. Once it is out you can clean it and snake out the drain. To put it back simply lower the linkage and plug back down into the hole, put the two screws back in place.

Andrew Pitonyak
02-10-2013, 11:56 AM
Excellent, thanks...

Andrew Pitonyak
02-16-2013, 10:31 PM
I finally fixed my bathtub today (and a toilette too, but that is another story). Sadly, things did not go as planned.

When I tried to remove the first screw, it snapped. Turns out the screws were very rusted under that pretty front plate. Very happy that the second screw did not snap, but it feels like a miracle that it did not given how much of the screw was already eaten away by rust (about half the thickness). :eek:

My access panel is the kitchen ceiling, which means I cut a hole in the ceiling if I need access. Certainly better than cutting a hole in the tile wall (tiny shower in the master bedroom).

First attempt to get it out involved penetrating oil and cutting a slot in the stub that was sticking out of the hole. Nope, the screw simple broke when I tried to remove it. :mad:

Second attempt involved a screw extractor. Stripped stuff out of the hole and the screw stayed behind. :(

Third attempt involved some drill bits that I purchased to drill the top to my previous table saw. I then re-tapped the hole. And that worked; yeah! :D

So, now, with about $10 worth of parts, my two girls can frolic in the tub and then let the water drain without holding the lever.

Lee Schierer
02-17-2013, 8:31 AM
I would look fro some stainless screws to replace the ones holding the plate to the tub wall. If the drain is brass or copper, steel screws are going to rust incredibly fast and you will soon have the same problem getting them out. You could also use chrome plated brass screws, but they may be hard to find.

Andrew Pitonyak
02-17-2013, 8:59 AM
Not a bad idea.... I will see if I can find a good match. I expect it should be easy. The screws are 1/4-20, which is very common, probably even with the tapered head