Tub Drain Stopper Stuck In Closed Position? (Here's a Fix)

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze
Showers and baths are small joys in life, but what happens if the water doesn’t drain because your stopper is stuck in the closed position? It can seem like it will be stuck forever at first, but that is nothing to worry about. Follow along as we explore the simple steps that it takes to take care of a stuck stopper.

It can be pretty annoying when you take a shower and the water starts puddling around your feet. If it won’t go down, you probably thought it was clogged with hair or something. But after cleaning it and finding nothing, you probably realized that it is just that the drain stopper is stuck in the closed position.

If your tub drain stopper is stuck in the closed position, you’ll have to fix it before continuing to use your tub. There are several different types of stoppers including PresFlo, FlipIt, Lift and Turn, Toe Touch, and Trip Lever systems. How you fix your tub stopper depends on the type of system you have.

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In this article, we’ll look at how to fix all manner of drain stoppers stuck in the closed position. There are many different types of drain stoppers and each of them requires different remedies, each of which we’ll explore.

The Lift Bucket Drain System

The lift bucket drain system is easier than the other and has four different kinds. The PresFlo, FlipIt, Lift & Turn, or Toe Touch. They are pretty self-explanatory but here is some help in case you do not know.

Type How it Works
PresFloHas an O-ring to create a seal and spins to open or close with just a bit of pressure on the side
FlipItUses a toggle that you push to one side to open and close the drain
Lift & TurnYou have to lift it and turn it to open and close the drain
Toe TouchJust push it with your toe to open and close the drain

Fixing the PresFlo Stopper

  • Make sure the stopper is flat in the drain.
  • Use a suction cup to press on the stopper until it sticks.
  • Pull the stopper out and replace it with a new one.

Fixing the FlipIt Stopper

The O-ring is all that keeps this type of stopper in its place. All you have to do is unscrew it and pull upward at the same time. It does not even matter which way you turn it because it can go both ways. Replace it with a new one by putting it in and turning it one way or the other.

Fixing the Lift & Turn Stopper

  • Get a flathead screwdriver and some Allen wrenches.
  • Put the stopper in the open position and turn the knob while looking for a screw. If there is no screw, turn it counterclockwise until it comes out and skip to Step Six.
  • You will either need your screwdriver or Allen wrench to loosen the screw. You do not have to remove it all the way.
  • Lift the stopper off the post it is sitting on.
  • Unscrew the post from the strainer.
  • Take out the stopper and replace it with a new one.

Fixing the Toe Touch Stopper

  • Get a flathead screwdriver and pliers.
  • Remove the knob by turning it counterclockwise. Use the rag and pliers if it will not come off easily.
  • Unscrew the brass insert with the screwdriver and lift it off the strainer.
  • Replace the stopper and put everything back together.

How To Fix A Bathroom Drain Stopper

How to Remove a Stuck Trip Lever Tub Drain Stopper

If yours is the trip lever drain system, it is a bit more work to fix than the other type. But it only has two different kinds. The pop-up and the lift bucket.

The Pop-Up Drain Stopper

The pop-up has a turn style or trip lever to move a pushrod inside against a rocker arm. The stopper is visible in the drain and is not covered by a strainer.

  • Rotate the overflow faceplate or flip the lever to open the stopper.
  • Pull straight up to remove the stopper. You may have to move it back and forth a bit.
  • Some of these stoppers have a rocker arm that comes out with the stopper. Make sure you have a cloth to lay it on because it can scratch the tub.
  • Replace the stopper and plunger with a new one and make sure it is firmly sealed.

Quick Tip: If you have a rocker arm, they can be hard to put back in. You can use a conversion kit to change it to a different system.

The Lift Bucket Drain Stopper

The lift bucket stopper also has a turn style or trip lever to operate it. However, the plunger inside is used to stop the water. When you activate the plunger, it turns the plate to move the plunger up and down. You cannot see a stopper in this one and there is a strainer over the drain.

  • Remove the cover plate by unscrewing it from the drain.
  • Find the screws on the cover plate.
  • Remove just one screw.
  • Holding the faceplate, slowly remove the other screw. As it loosens, the faceplate will start to swivel. When it is loosened enough to swing down and away, reinstall the other screw into the overflow elbow. This stops the elbow from falling behind the tub.
  • Remove the other screw the rest of the way, leaving the first screw holding the elbow in place.
  • Remove the trip lever by wiggling it and pulling gently.
  • Replace the stopper and trip lever with a new one and replace everything in the opposite order as before.

Quick Tip: Make sure the stopper is in the correct spot to let the bathtub drain correctly.

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Fix Your Trip Lever Drain Through the Springs

The operation of a trip-lever drain that works a pop-up stopper is slightly different. Instead of a lift-bucket plunger, a spring at the end of the connecting rod closes a drain aperture at the bottom of the overflow tube.

This spring pulls down on a pivot arm when the trip lever is pushed, which levers the pop-up stopper up into an open position. Gravity allows the block to descend back down and shut the drain opening when the trip lever is moved to the closed position.

To get this task done, you need to follow these steps:

  • Remove the overflow cover plate’s fastening screws from the overflow tube. Remove the cover plate with care, then detach the connecting rod and spring via the overflow hole.
  • Remove any debris from the spring at the stopper linkage’s end. Hair and soap scum build-up can create difficulties with the stopper in many circumstances.
  • Attach the cover plate to the overflow tube and re-insert the stopper linkage through the overflow aperture. Turning on the water and checking that the stopper is in proper working order.

How Do I Remove a Stuck Bathtub Drain Stopper?

Removing a stuck bathtub drain stopper is slightly different than fixing a broken one. To remove the stopper and clear any debris in the way, here’s what you need to do.

  • Unscrew and loosen the drain stopper with a screwdriver.
  • Use your fingers or a needlenose pliers to grab the stopper and pull it out of the drain.
  • Set the stopper aside so it’s out of the way but not somewhere you’ll lose it.
  • Insert a drain snake into the drain line and turn and push to loosen any debris that’s blocking the drain.
  • Continue to do this until you remove everything that’s blocking the drain.
  • Reinstall the stopper into the drain and tighten it with the screwdriver.
  • Fill the tub with water and drain it to perform a practice run and make sure the drain is clear and the stopper is working.

How Can I Fix My Bathroom Sink Stopper?

If your bathroom sink drain is broken, it can be a major problem. These things are made so that if they fail, you have to take things apart to fix them. It is not as easy as fixing the tub drain. But you should be able to do it without hiring a plumber.

Here is a list of tools you’ll need to complete the job.

  • A wrench
  • Pliers
  • A Screwdriver
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Bucket

Once you’ve gathered your supplies and turned off the water to the tub, follow these steps to a T.

  • With the bucket underneath, remove the p-trap and set it aside.
  • Remove the pivot rod through the hole in the drain stopper and then remove the sink stopper tailpipe and set it aside.
  • Use the wrench to loosen the nut that is holding the drain where it is.
  • Push up on the drain while pulling it out of the top.
  • Take the sink components to the hardware store and get the exact same ones. Ask for help if you cannot find it.
  • Use the plumber’s putty to make a ring around the sink opening and press down gently.
  • Press the replacement drain in the opening on top of the putty. Press it until the putty comes out and remove the excess.
  • Replace the drain with the gaskets between it and the nut and tighten the nut to hold the drain in place.
  • Spread some plumber’s putty onto the tailpipe and p-trap threads and hook everything back up as it was.
How Do I Hook the Pivot Rod Back Up?

Find the hole on the bottom of the stopper and line up the rod with the hole. If you cannot see it, try doing it by feel. Make sure you do not lose the gasket that goes between the pivot seat and the pivot hole. It may take a few tries, but if you keep at it, you can get it right.

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Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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