How To Remove A Stuck Bathtub Drain Plunger? (6 Easy Steps)

A stuck drain plunger in the bathtub may be a common sight. This can happen when hair and other debris are clogging the drain. If you are looking for a way to remove a stuck bathtub drain plunger, then this article is for you.

There are many ways to remove a stuck bathtub drain plunger. First, you’ll need to pull out the plunger by removing the faceplate screws. Clean the plunger with some CLR and scrub out the gunk. You need to adjust the cord length in the end before placing it back inside the drain.

How To Remove A Stuck Bathtub Drain Stopper

However, there are some intricate steps involved in this process which I’ve covered for you in this article. It will help you know how the plunger-style drain stoppers work and how you can remove and fix them yourself.

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1. Assess the Situation and Gather All Necessary Tools

There are various types of bathtub drain stoppers available in the market.

You should first inspect if you have plunger-style or trip lever drain stoppers for your bathtub.

These typically have brass plungers fitted to them with the help of an adjustable cord.

The plunger typically gets stuck due to corrosion on it.

Chances are the accumulation of hair, soap scum, and debris decompose in the drain and rust the brass plunger.

The tools you will need to fix the situation are:

  • A flathead screwdriver
  • A wrench or pliers
  • Drain cleaners, preferably CLR
  • A soft scrubber
  • Some marine grease or petroleum jelly

With the help of these tools and some basic plumbing skills, you can remove and fix the stuck bathtub drain plunger yourself.

READ: 25 Types of Plumbing Tools

2. Remove the Cover To Allow Access to the Drain Stopper

The stopper in the plunger tub drain is placed inside the waste and overflow pipe.

This is activated with the help of a trip lever or turn-style overflow plate.

The lever is connected to a faceplate or strainer plate that covers the drain.

It is usually located on the side of the tub, attached with two screws on either side.

To remove this cover, slowly unscrew it with a flathead screwdriver. This will give you access to the plunger mechanism.

Pro Tip: Carefully put the faceplate on paper or cloth to avoid scratching your tub.

3. Pull Out the Drain Plunger With an Adjustable Wrench

How To Remove A Stuck Bathtub Drain Stopper

As said earlier, the stopper or plunger is fitted inside the pipe and not at the drain’s opening in this type of tub drain.

So to remove the plunger in the trip-lever or pop-up drain stoppers, you’ll have to pull the lever away from the wall.

You can use an adjustable wrench or pliers to do this job.

However, if you find it hard and forcibly pull it out, it might damage or break apart the plunger.

In that case, you should call in a professional for help.

4. Clear Out Severe Blockage With a Chemical and Scrubber

To clear out severe rust and blockage on the plunger, you need to dip it in a drain cleaner.

The chemical will dissolve any hair, soap, or other buildups on the plunger, preventing the water from going down the drain.

A chemical drain cleaner is very effective at removing tough clogs.

CLR (Calcium, Lime, and Rust) is a popular choice because it’s inexpensive, easy to find, and works well on many types of clogs.

You can also buy other brands like Liquid-Plumr Clog Remover or Zep Drain Remover on or at your local hardware store.

If you still find some gunk sticking to the lever, try to scrub it out with a soft scrubber without damaging the parts.

This will clean all the scum covering the lever and plunger as well.

5. Adjust the Plunger Cord Length and Place It Back Inside

A layer of marine grease or petroleum jelly should be applied on the brass plunger before placing it back inside the drain.

This will help you operate the lever smoothly.

For your bathtub to drain correctly, the stopper needs to be adjusted.

This can be done by tightening or loosening the adjustable linkage that joins the lever and the stop.

The stopper’s height must correspond with the bathtub sink for everything to work correctly.

If the stopper is too high, the bathtub will not fully plug up, and water may slowly drain.

Make sure you have a fully plugged bathtub.

Consequently, if the stopper is set too low when open, the bathtub will drain slowly as the stopper is partially blocking the opening.

This may make you think there’s a clog as it drains poorly.

6. Perform a Test To See if the Plunger Is Working Right

Testing if a bathtub drain plunger is working right can be done by filling the tub with water entirely and giving it a while to sit down.

Then activate the stopper by pulling up the trigger and watching the flow of the water passing out of the drain.

If it’s too slow, then you’ll have to adjust the lever as discussed above.

But if nothing’s happening and water is still in the tub, you should call a professional to inspect the problem.

You might have to remove the old drain plunger and replace it with a new one in such a situation.

Final Thoughts

When you have a clogged drain in the bathtub, the best way to fix it is to see if there’s a stuck drain stopper.

This is a typical problem with trip-lever or pop-up bathtub drain stoppers.

The easiest way to remove a stuck bathtub drain plunger is to unscrew the faceplate, pull out the lever and clean it with CLR.

Adjusting the cord length before placing the plunger back will help to get the ideal water flow during usage.

If this also doesn’t work, then call an expert plumber for help or replace it with a new drain plunger.

Cheers, tools owners!

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.