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April 4, 2024

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    Sink stoppers are a crucial piece of a sink setup. But when clogs throw a wrench in your plans, you need to know how to remove your sink stopper. They can be tricky to remove, but without them, you wouldn’t be able to trap water in the sink for various tasks from washing dishes to cleaning makeup brushes.  

    There are four common types of sink stoppers: pop-up, push-pull, flip-it, and toe-touch. Each stopper has a unique removal method, with some more difficult than others. In most cases, you can complete the project with nothing more than basic tools including pliers, channel-lock pliers, or a screwdriver. 

    This article explores the removal processes for each type of sink stopper in a few simple steps. It’s important to note that while most removal processes are easy, some are more complex and may require the help of a skilled plumber. 

    Watch the video below to see how to remove a push-style bathtub stopper: 

    Need a plumber’s help to remove a stuck sink stopper? Get in touch with local pros now with the widget below. 

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    • Removing a sink stopper is a simple process that most homeowners can handle on their own.
    • Pop-up sink stoppers take the longest to disassemble as they feature a more complex mechanism.
    • If you encounter issues with your stopper removal project or the bathroom sink drain itself, it’s best to contact a plumber.

    How Do You Remove a Pop-Up Sink Stopper? (4 Steps)

    Pop-up sink stoppers (drain plugs) are a common feature in bathroom sinks. They operate using a more complex mechanism than other stoppers we’ll discuss, employing clevis straps, pivot rods, spring clips, and gaskets to get the job done. 

    When you pull up on the rod at the back of the faucet, the mechanism pulls the stopper downward, using the gasket to create a tight seal against the sink. When you push the rod down, it raises the stopper, lifting the gasket away from the sink and allowing water to drain. 

    Follow the steps below to remove a pop-up sink stopper.

    #1 Locate and adjust the lift rod and clevis strap under the sink

    First, find the lift rod and clevis strap underneath the bathroom or kitchen sink. If you have a cramped base cabinet, clean it out and set stored objects aside before attempting to access the drain assembly. 

    The clevis strap is a vertical component connected to the lift rod that feeds through the faucet. 

    You may need to adjust this rod to detach the pivot rod. Adjust it higher or lower as needed.

    #2 Unscrew and detach the pivot rod from the drain pipe

    Next, you’ll need to unscrew the pivot rod from the drain pipe. When you remove the pivot rod, the sink stopper will drop into the drain, becoming flush with the sink and making it difficult to lift it out. Hold the stopper with one hand or place something underneath the lip to prevent it from sliding down when you remove the pivot rod. 

    When you’re ready, unthread the nut connecting the pivot rod to the drain pipe. You may need to use channel-lock pliers to loosen the nut, although this will depend on how snugly it’s attached. Once you loosen the nut, work the pivot rod backward and pull it out of the drain pipe. 

    #3 Pull out the sink stopper from the drain opening

    After you remove the pivot rod from the drain pipe, the sink stopper can move freely in the drain. Lift it out of the drain opening by pulling up on the stopper. It should come out without resistance unless there’s a clog, as the pivot rod is what fixes it in place. If your drain is clogged or drains slowly, you can use a drain snake to remove any debris stuck in the pipe before you reinstall the sink stopper. 

    # 4 Clean and reinstall the sink stopper if needed

    While you have the assembly out, clean any hair, gunk, or grime off the end of the pivot rod. Wash the stopper with cleaner and a scrub brush, ensuring you remove all gunk and debris. 

    Examine each component for signs of damage or wear, replacing each part as necessary. When you’re done, reassemble the sink stopper if necessary. To reinstall the stopper, fit the stopper back into the drain. Insert the pivot rod into the drain pipe and feed it through the hole at the bottom of the stopper.

    This step can take some trial and error, but you’ll know when you’ve attached it correctly when you can operate the drain as usual. Once you hook the stopper with the pivot rod, tighten the nut in place to secure the assembly. 

    How Do You Remove a Push-Pull Sink Stopper? (3 Steps)

    A push-pull sink stopper looks similar to a lift-and-turn stopper, often featuring a knob atop the stopper. The smooth, wide knob is fixed in place, allowing users to pull the stopper up or push it into place, hence the name. These stoppers have an incredibly simple mechanism, so removing them is easy — just follow the steps below. 

    #1 Twist and pull up the sink stopper from the drain opening

    Some push-pull sink stoppers have a detachable knob. To remove these models, you’ll need to remove the knob to access the mounting post. Simply grip the drain stopper in one hand and the knob in the other. 

    Turn the knob clockwise (to the left) and unthread it from the stopper lid. This will reveal the fastening bolt. 

    #2 Unscrew and remove the mounting post from the drain opening

    Once you reveal the fastening bolt, use a screwdriver or pliers to unthread the bolt from the drain crossbar. After unthreading the stopper, you can lift it out of the drain. 

    If you have a push-pull stopper without a detachable knob, the process is similar but doesn’t require as many steps. Instead of unthreading the knob to expose the fastening bolt, you can unthread the entire piece at once. Simply twist the entire drain stopper counterclockwise to unthread the hidden bolt from the drain crossbar. 

    Once you unthread it, lift it out of the drain. 

    #3 Clean and reinstall the sink stopper if needed

    After you take the sink stopper out of the drain, inspect it for damage or debris. In many cases, hair, soap scum, and other grime build up on the stopper. While you have the stopper out, give it a good scrubbing with a brush and some cleaner. 

    After cleaning the stopper and completing tasks that require the stopper out of the way, reinstall the stopper by retracing your steps. 

    How Do You Remove a Flip-It Sink Stopper? (3 Steps)

    Flip-it sink stoppers feature a flip lever that allows the gasket within the drain to expand or contract. When you flip the stopper into the open position, the gasket contracts, allowing water to flow through. When you flip the stopper into the closed position, the gasket expands, preventing water flow through the drain. 

    The mechanism is simple and easy to operate, making the removal process a breeze. 

    #1 Flip the sink stopper to the open position

    First you’ll need to flip the sink stopper into the open position. This will allow you to get a better grasp on the stopper for removal. 

    #2 Pry out the sink stopper from the drain opening

    Once you open the sink stopper, grasp the lever firmly and twist the entire assembly while you pull upward. Lift up and away from the drain to remove the stopper. 

    #3 Clean and reinstall the sink stopper

    Lastly, examine the stopper for signs of damage and replace it if necessary. Otherwise, clean the stopper thoroughly to remove gunk and grime with a brush and cleaner. After cleaning the stopper, reinstall it in the drain. 

    How Do You Remove a Toe-Touch Sink Stopper? (3 Steps)

    A toe-touch sink stopper features a straightforward mechanism that activates with a simple push. When you push down the drain stopper, it’ll close, creating a tight seal against the bottom of the sink. On the second push, the drain reopens, allowing the sink’s contents to flow down the drain pipe. 

    These stoppers usually feature a smooth, flat lid and may have the word “push” in the center. 

    #1 Unscrew the cap of the sink stopper from the drain opening

    Pop the drain into the open position by pressing it firmly. Once it’s open, grasp it and twist counterclockwise. Don’t apply excessive force, as you could break it. Instead, apply firm, steady pressure as you twist to ensure it unthreads smoothly. 

    #3 Pull out the stem of the sink stopper from the drain opening

    Once you unthread the stopper, use a set of pliers or a screwdriver to unthread the fastening screw from the crossbar. Lift the stopper out of the drain and set it aside. Remove the stem of the sink stopper after you unthread it. 

    #4 Clean and reinstall the sink stopper

    Clean the sink stopper and stem while you have them easily accessible using a brush and cleaner. Remove hair, soap scum, and other debris before reinstalling the sink stopper. 

    So, What’s The Best Way To Remove a Drain Stopper?

    When your drain goes on strike due to a clog or blockage, DIY removing the stopper to address the issue might be your best bet. While the process varies from one stopper to the next, it’s usually a simple project that most homeowners can handle. 

    However, if you can’t remove your drain stopper or run into issues with your drain, it’s best to contact a professional. Some problems can be more complex than others, so help from a professional plumber might be your best bet. 

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    FAQs About Removing a Sink Stopper

    Do you need to remove a bathroom sink stopper to replace a faucet?

    When replacing some faucets, you’ll need to remove the sink stopper. This is true of sinks that feature pop-up assemblies with the pivot rod, clevis strap, and lift rods, as the drain is connected to the faucet. In these cases, you’ll usually need to install a similar faucet with the same drain setup or replace the drain assembly as well.

    How do I remove the sink stopper from the bathtub drain?

    The process of removing a sink stopper from a bathtub drain hinges on the type of stopper you have. Many bathtubs feature a toe-touch stopper with a twist mechanism, so you can easily unthread the setup from the crossbar without issues. If your plunger is stuck, you can try popping it up with a suction cup or plunger.

    How do you remove a sink stopper by removing the metal ring?

    You don’t have to remove the metal ring to remove the sink stopper. The metal ring beneath the sink stopper is called a drain flange, and to remove it, you’ll need to remove the stopper first. The process varies based on the type of stopper you’re working with.

    Editorial Contributors
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    Jonathon Jachura


    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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    Lora Novak

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    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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