A toe-tap bathtub stopper may need to be removed for a number of reasons. Perhaps the drain is clogged and needs to be cleared, or perhaps the stopper itself needs to be cleaned. Sometimes, the spring mechanism in this part of the tub breaks, and the stopper must be replaced. Whatever the reason, a toe-tap bathtub stopper can be easily removed.
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What Is a Toe-Tap Stopper?
A toe-tap stopper, also known as a "toe-touch" and "foot-actuated" stopper, is a type of bathtub drain that is operated by pushing down with your toe. Similar to the "push-and-pull models" some bathtubs use, toe-taps are spring-loaded. A cap sits on top of a shaft cylinder or post and is threaded through a crossbar over the drain fitting.
Common in walk-in bathtubs, toe-tap stoppers are operated by pressing down on one end to close and pressing down on the other to open. All that is required is a simple tap with your toe.
Removing a Toe-Tap Bathtub Stopper
Since you will be working from inside the tub, lay down a drop cloth to protect the tub's surface from scuff marks and scratches. Make sure the surface is dry to prevent slipping. Set the toe-tap stopper in the open position as if you are draining the bathtub. Firmly grip the cap of the stopper and turn it counterclockwise, unscrewing the cap until it is completely off.
The shaft cylinder is the remaining piece of the toe-tap stopper and threads into the crossbar. Grip the shaft cylinder and just like the cap, unscrew it counterclockwise and remove the cylinder from the threaded crossbar. You may notice that a screw secures the cylinder, and you may need a screwdriver to remove it completely.
On some toe-tap stoppers, the shaft cylinder will unscrew with the cap. If you notice this while unscrewing the cap, make sure you are not gripping the cylinder and readjust your grip to remove the cap exclusively.
If the Stopper Is Stuck
Drains and drain stoppers should be cleaned to avoid rusting and buildup from the water's mineral deposits. When they are not regularly maintained, the buildup and rust can hinder the removal. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can try to get the stopper unstuck.
Keep the stopper in the open position. You can use a dry towel to improve your grip if you need it. If the stem is stuck, use a pair of pliers, but first, tape over the teeth with plumber's tape to ensure the pliers won't bite into the metal. Then, grip the stem and turn counterclockwise.
If the stopper is still stuck, apply a small amount of a penetrating lubricant like WD-40 to loosen the stopper from the crossbar's threads. It is also possible that the stopper is stuck because of damage to the drain. The crossbar through which the shaft cylinder threads can get corroded over time. In this case, you would have to remove the drain body and replace it using a drain key and a wrench.