Plumbing: Sink and Tub Pop Stoppers

Most bathroom sinks and tubs have a pop-up drain stopper. Although stopper adjustments are simple, it may take several tries to get them just right.

Many stoppers simply rest on a pivot rod (or a rocker arm in tub drains) and can be easily lifted out for cleaning. Others attach to a pivot rod and require that the pivot rod be removed before the stopper can be pulled. Usually, the stopper needs to be pulled to clear a hair clog that's causing slow drainage, but if the stopper is clean, it may need adjusting to raise it higher to open the drain.

To raise or lower a sink stopper, you can adjust the clevis, which is a flat rod with holes, on the lift rod for clevis hole for larger adjustments. The point where the pivot rod hooks into the sink drain is a common source of leaks. The plastic pivot ball becomes worn, the seals holding it wear out or the retaining nut cracks. Whenever you remove or replace a retaining nut, wrap the threads with Teflon plumbing tape.

After replacing any or all parts on a drain, always test the drain by filling the basin with water and allowing it to drain. Sometimes, leaks only show up when the drain is subjected to maximum water flow.

For a tub stopper, remove the overflow plate and the striker assembly (see image below). The striker assembly has a threaded rod that controls how far the striker minor adjustments or move the pivot rod to a different spring drops onto the rocker arm.

In sink stoppers (image right) , the lift rod controls a three-part linkage consisting of the lift rod, a clevis and a pivot rod that raises and lowers the stopper. If a part of the stopper assembly breaks, it can be hard to find a new part that correctly fits the old assembly. Even minor part differences can cause major problems. As a result, you may need to replace the entire drain and stopper assembly.

Setting Lift Rod

Loosen setscrew, push stopper down, adjust rod and retighten setscrew.

Setting Pivot Rod

Squeeze spring clip and slide pivot rod out of clevis. Install rod in new hole.
Pivot Ball Leaks

Pivot Ball Leaks

Remove retaining nut and check condition of pivot ball, gasket and retaining nut. If parts are in good condition, wrap threads with Teflon plumbing tape and reinstall. Make sure the concave side of plastic gasket goes over the pivot ball and the gasket is underneath the retaining nut.

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New Tub Stopper

Replacement stoppers are now available that allow you to dispense with the troublesome internal mechanisms of the old-style tub stopper. However, it can be difficult to match the threads of the new stopper body to those of the old tub drain.

Remove old stopper by unscrewing overflow, pulling out striker assembly and installing no- lever overflow cover. Pull out stop per and rocker arm. Remove old stopper body with pliers wedged into cross arm. Take old stop per body to plumbing store to find compatible replacement. Adapter bushings are avail able to allow replacement stoppers to fit older drains.

Pivoting stoppers, available at plumbing supply stores, fit some drains with out requiring that you remove the old stopper body.

Stopper kits have lift-and-turn or spring-loaded stoppers that replace the lever system. These require replacing the stop per body.

Last modified: Friday, 2020-05-01 11:08 PST