When you get a bathtub drain clog, you need to be able to remove the stopper to clear it with any kind of mechanical drain-clearing tool, such as a snake or Zip-It tool. In days gone by, all you had to do was pull out the rubber stopper, but manufacturers have since had a field day devising stoppers of different types that are physically connected to the drain and can't simply be pulled off. The procedure for removing the push-to-close drain stopper on your tub depends on which kind it is.
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Removing a Toe-Touch Stopper
The toe-touch stopper is one of the easiest to use; it's spring-loaded, and when you push it once, it locks and closes while a second push unlocks it so it can spring open and allow the tub to drain. You won't see any visible screws on the stopper head, so the procedure for removing it can appear mysterious, but it isn't.
- Open the stopper all the way and grasp the head with one hand while you grasp the shaft underneath it with a pair of adjustable joint pliers.
- Turn the head counterclockwise. If the shaft doesn't turn, continue turning the head until it disengages from the shaft. If the shaft turns, release the pliers and unscrew the entire stopper, including the head and shaft, from the crossbar in the drain.
- Use a Phillips screwdriver to back out the screw holding the shaft to the crossbar if you were able to separate the head from the shaft.
Push-Pull and Lift-and-Turn Stoppers
You operate a push-pull stopper simply by pushing and pulling, but you need to give a lift-and-turn stopper a slight twist to maintain it in the open position. They both have a knob on top, and you have to remove the knob to get the stopper off.
If yours is a push-pull stopper, the procedure is simple. Open the stopper, then grasp the stopper head with one hand while turning the knob counterclockwise with the other. If it's hard to turn, use a rubber glove to get a better grip on the knob. But, if they're welded together, the head will absolutely want to turn with the knob, so release the head and turn the knob to unscrew the stopper from the crossbar. If the head and knob are independent, unscrew the knob, lift off the head and unscrew the shaft from the crossbar.
To remove a lift-and-turn stopper, lift it to open the drain, then turn it and look for a set screw on the knob. Release this screw with a No. 1 Phillips screwdriver or a 1/8-inch Allen wrench, as applicable. Lift off the knob and stopper head and unscrew the shaft from the crossbar. Sometimes the set screw is on the shaft just under the stopper head, so if you don't see one on the knob, lift the stopper as high as you can to access the set screw.
Removing a PresFlo Stopper
A PresFlo stopper doesn't have a knob, and it rotates in the drain opening rather than lifting. The only thing holding it in the drain opening is the O-ring around its perimeter, and you can often remove it by pulling it out with your fingers after opening the drain. If that doesn't work, use the suction cup that was supplied with the stopper when it was new. Don't worry if you lost it, because any small suction cup will do.