The Trip Lever in My Bathtub Is Stuck

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: ppa5/iStock/GettyImages

Enjoying a warm soak at the end of a long day may be your preferred way to reduce stress. However, if you start to notice that the water level is going down in your bathtub, it may be because your bathtub trip lever is malfunctioning.

Advertisement

Video of the Day

You might also encounter the problem of your tub not draining because your trip valve seems to be stuck. This is another indication that your trip lever may need some attention. You will need to investigate what is going on behind the cover plate of your trip valve to see if you are dealing with a quick fix or a full-on replacement.

Advertisement

What Is a Trip Lever?

A trip lever is the device that you either flip up or down on your bathtub to lift or drop the stopper in the bottom of the bathtub. It is a mechanism that is hidden behind the walls of the tub that you control through a toggle switch located on the overflow drain. Since the mechanism is hidden, the only way to know if something is wrong with the lever is by noticing the water levels in your bathtub.

Advertisement

The trip lever functions because the switch part of the lever is connected by a metal link system to a metal rod behind the bathtub walls, allowing you to push down or pull up on the bathtub drain stopper.

Bathtub Trip Lever Is Stuck

If you notice that nothing is happening when you flip your trip lever or if you can't flip the lever at all, then you need to examine the system to see what the problem is. The first thing you should do is remove the cover plate of the lever and verify the links connecting the lever to the stopping mechanism of the bathtub.

Advertisement

Using CLR is an option if you have difficulty seeing through the grime and buildup on the links. Often, simply cleaning the link system makes the entire mechanism function properly again. Grime buildup can make the links difficult to move, which could be why the trip lever is stuck.

Another reason that the trip lever in your bathtub is stuck could be because the link mechanism (or something further down in the system) is broken. In this case, it would be best to replace the entire system with either another trip lever system or an easier functioning bathtub drain stopper.

Advertisement

Replacing the Bathtub Trip Lever

Replacing the bathtub trip lever is not a difficult project. According to Family Handyman, it is an easy task to undertake that begins with removing the overflow plate. This is usually done by removing the screws that should be visible on the face of the plate. Once the screws are removed, pull the overflow plate away from the tub, and the upper linkage, which is hidden inside the tub, should easily follow.

Advertisement

Afterward remove the old stopper and the stopper body, which is the circular metal ring around the drain. The stopper should either pull out or twist out without any issues. To remove the stopper body, cut a small notch into the metal with a hacksaw before dislodging it with a chisel and hammer. Please use caution while doing this replacement. Hacksaws are sharp and dangerous, so you should be wearing protective gloves and goggles to prevent metal shards from entering your eyes or landing on your skin.

Advertisement

Once all the remains of the old system have been removed, you can install a new stopper (a new trip mechanism is not necessary and you might choose to avoid it due to the extra steps needed to install it). Fit the drain hole with a new rubber gasket if you notice the old one has lots of wear and tear. Take some plumber's putty and place a small amount around the new stopper on the side that will come into contact with the top. Fit the stopper in place, screw it into the drain and make sure it fits tightly in the hole, and the job is complete.

Advertisement

references