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Repair a Tub Drain

Bathtub

Determine what kind of drain you have before you tackle a drain repair project. A beginner do-it-yourselfer (DIYer) should be able to repair a tub drain in about three hours with common household tools.


Types of Bathtub Drains

Drains Without Trip Levers

Foot Lock: To change the setting of the drain, push it down with your foot.
Roller Ball: Push the plug down to hold water, and pull it up to drain.
Lift and Turn: Rotate the plug in opposite directions to release or hold water. These drains have set screws under the lip of the drain.

Drains With Trip Levers

Pop-Up: The trip lever opens and closes the drain by moving the stopper up and down.
Plunger: Plunger drains don't have a visible stopper. The trip lever opens and closes the drain by moving a hidden plunger up and down.



Fixing Foot Lock and Roller Ball Tub Drains

Foot Lock And Roller Ball Drain Diagram

If you're fortunate enough to have one of these types of drains, it should be an easy fix. To remove the plugs from foot lock or roller ball tub drains, simply rotate the plug counterclockwise until it's free of the drain.

  • Clean the plugs with a mild cleaning solution or vinegar and reinstall.


Fixing Lift and Turn Tub Drains


Step 1

Lift the drain plug and locate the setscrew under the lip of the plug. Loosen the setscrew and remove the plug.


Step 2

To clean any remaining residue, flush the tub drain and overflow drain with a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda. After it stops fizzing, rinse with boiling water. Clean and reinstall the overflow faceplate and drain plug. Be sure to tighten the setscrew.



Fixing Pop-Up Tub Drains


Step 1

Set the trip lever in the open position. Wiggle the assembly to get it out of the drain. The assembly isn't actually attached to the drain, but don't be surprised if it takes some effort to get it out.


Step 2

Take the screws out of the cover plate. Remove the trip lever and linkage from the overflow drain.


Step 3

If the tub has been leaking or the drain is hard to operate, clean the linkage, rocker arm and stopper. Use a brush and a mild cleaning solution or vinegar. Flush the tub drain with a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda and rinse with boiling water.


Step 4

Lubricate the moving parts of the rocker arm and stopper. Slide them back into the drain until the stopper is in the closed position. Lubricate the moving parts and the threads of the linkage, and reinstall into the overflow drain. It may be necessary to adjust the linkage. To increase the flow rate of the drain, loosen the locknut, turn the lift rod counterclockwise and tighten the lock nut. If the stopper won't seal in the closed position, loosen the locknut, turn the lift rod clockwise and tighten the lock nut. To avoid overcompensating, screw the lift rod in or out three or four turns at a time.



Fixing Plunger Tub Drains


Step 1

Take out the screws on the coverplate, and pull it away from the tub wall. The linkage and plunger will come out with the coverplate.


Step 2

If the tub has been leaking or the drain is hard to operate, clean the plunger and linkage. Use a brush and a mild cleaning solution or vinegar. Flush the tub drain and overflow drain with a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda. Rinse with boiling water.


Step 3

Lubricate the plunger and linkage; reinstall them into the overflow drain. Partially fill the tub, and check to see if the drain holds water. Then open the drain and check the flow rate. If the drain allows water to seep out, loosen the locknut, turn the lift rod counterclockwise and then tighten the locknut. To increase the drain flow rate, loosen the locknut, turn the lift rod clockwise and tighten the locknut. To avoid overcompensating, screw the lift rod in or out three or four turns at a time.

Shop Tub Drains