Sometimes, learning a new DIY plumbing trick is complex. And then there’s learning how to remove bathroom sink stoppers (also called pop-ups). Why would you even want to do this?
Sometimes, it’s easier to clean hair and other debris from a slow-draining sink. Removing the sink stopper allows easier access to the drain. Or perhaps the stopper isn’t fitting neatly onto the drain and it’s leaking water. In any case, thankfully, there’s not much in the plumbing world that is easier to do than remove and clean a bathroom sink stopper.
BONUS: But wait, there’s more! I’m also going to show you how to properly clean and service it. Let’s get started.
What is a Bathroom Sink Stopper?
Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s that device (usually chrome) in your drain that moves up and down. When up, it is in the open position and allows water to flow down the drain. When down, it is in the closed position and keeps water from draining out.
There’s a slot at the bottom of the stopper that allows it to hook onto what’s called a pop-up lift mechanism. This is the part that makes it difficult to just pull up and out of the drain. But there’s a super easy trick to it.
There’s also an old-fashioned part called a plug. This type of stopper is a simple piece of rubber that fits onto the drain hole. But for this exercise, we’re talking about the more commonly found mechanical stopper (or pop-up device).
How to Remove Bathroom Sink Stoppers
- Raise the stopper to its open position and pull it out of the drain.
- If the stopper does not lift out, turn it counterclockwise to free it from the pivot rod that it’s attached to. Then pull the stopper out.
- Do not force the stopper if it does not lift out easily.
- On some models, you must unscrew a retaining nut below the sink. If that’s the case, you’ll need to carry out this final step:
- Pull the rod out of the drain body and lift out the stopper from above the sink.
Before you move on to cleaning the stopper, take a good look to see if it’s in good enough shape to be serviced/cleaned. If it’s in really bad shape (worn out), you should consider going to a hardware store and finding a replacement drain body and pop-up assembly.
How to Service & Clean a Bathroom Sink Stopper
- Clean the stopper with fine steel wool or a stiff brush and soap. Either one will work just fine for removing the buildup of soap scum and other debris.
- Now, pry off the O-ring (see image below), if any, and replace it. O-rings for your bathroom sink stopper are cheap and can be found at any hardware store.
- If the stopper has an eye, position the eye so that it faces the pivot hole.
- Thread the pivot rod into the eye from beneath the sink and tighten the retaining nut.
- Run water through the drain.
- If any water leaks from the retaining nut, or if the stopper does not open full or close tightly, adjust or replace the entire pop-up lift assembly and stopper.
In most cases, knowing how to remove and clean a bathroom sink stopper is all you need to give your pop-up a long life. Doing this once a year can also save you the cost of a full pop-up assembly replacement down the road.
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