How Does a Bathtub Drain-Stopper Work?

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Bathtub drain stoppers keep water from escaping.
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Bathtub drain stoppers are an essential part of fully enjoying your tub. There are a few different types of bathtub drain stoppers, each of which works in a slightly different way to keep your tub filled with water.

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Bathtub drain stoppers are designed to prevent water from escaping your tub, allowing it to be filled. There are a few different types that all work in slightly different ways.

Round Stoppers With Rings

Round bathtub stoppers with rings are a common older style of drain stopper. They are fitted into the drain manually and can be connected to your tub using a chain. Round stoppers work by simply covering the drain hole of your bathtub and can be lifted out by holding on to the ring when you want to drain your tub.

Toe-Touch Stoppers

Toe-touch bathtub drain stoppers are a slightly more complicated option. They're a type of spring-loaded bathtub drain stopper that can be operated with the touch of your toe. This means there's no need to bend over, making them a comfortable addition to your tub.

Toe-touch stoppers can be pushed in place to block the drain of your tub. To release, you simply push them again, and they pop back up. The most important part of this type of stopper is the rubber seal, which holds the water in the tub. The seal can wear out over time, but can be easily replaced.

Lift-and-Turn Stoppers

Lift-and-turn stoppers open and close through a twist motion with the hand. When closing, a pin in the stopper aligns with a notch in the drain. The stopper then drops into place inside the drain. When it turns a little more it locks, holding the stopper in place.

These stoppers are released when twisted by hand in the opposite direction. They tend to be spring-loaded, and so pop back into the open position once the pin of the stopper becomes unaligned with the drain's notch.

Flip-It Stoppers

Flip-it drain stoppers are placed in the drain opening; then a small lever on top of the stopper is flipped 180 degrees. This forces the rubber seal against the edges of the drain, preventing any water from getting past. To open again, simply flip the lever back the other way; then lift the stopper out of the drain.

Over time, the rubber seal of a flip-it stopper can become worn out. They're fairly easy to replace, and a new one should restore your stopper to perfect working order.

Pop-Up Stoppers

There are also bathtub drain stoppers that can be operated with levers or knobs, including pop-up drain stoppers. A rod connects the lever or knob to a rocker arm that controls the stopper. Simply lower the lever or twist the knob to lower the stopper and lift or twist in the opposite direction to lift the stopper.

Trip-Lever Stoppers

Trip-lever drain stoppers are another lever-operated bathtub stopper option. They work by a connection between the drain stopper and a lever via a rod mechanism hidden behind the bathtub. When the lever is up, the stopper is held in place, keeping your tub filled with water. When the lever is moved down, the stopper lifts and the tub drains. Trip levers are often connected with plunger-style stoppers that sit further down your drain and are invisible from inside the tub. The drain usually has a strainer covering it instead.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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