Is your bathroom sink stopper stuck? You probably don’t think much about a sink stopper until it breaks, or you need to remove it to clear out a clogged drain. And figuring out how to fix a broken sink stopper may also seem a little mystifying—unless you know how it works.
Anatomy of a Sink Stopper
Pop-up sink stoppers work through a system of levers linked together. The stoppers are controlled by a lift rod that is usually just behind the faucet.
When you pull up the rod, the lever mechanism it is connected to pulls the sink stopper down and plugs the sink. When you push the rod down, it causes the lever to push the stopper up and allows water to flow down the drain.
Underneath the sink, the lift rod connects to the clevis strap. The clevis strap is attached to the pivot rod by a v-clamp (or sometimes a c-clamp). The pivot rod inserts into the drain, where it inserts into a hole in the bottom of the stopper.
Thankfully, if you need to know how to fix sink a stopper or simply clean out your sink drain, it isn’t a difficult task.
How to Remove a Sink Stopper
If your sink stopper is stuck and won’t close or open, don’t worry—it’s fairly easy to make this type of sink stopper repair. You may only need to replace part of the stopper mechanism to get it working again, or you may have to do a complete sink stopper replacement, but either way, the first step is to remove it.
It’s also helpful to know how to remove a sink stopper if your bathroom sink is draining slowly (or not draining at all) and you need to clean out the drain.
Be sure you place a bucket or towel beneath the sink to catch any water that may drip and follow these five steps to remove the sink stopper:
- If the stopper is still working, push the lift rod down to raise the stopper. This will make it easier to remove after it is disconnected from the lifting mechanism.
- Under the sink, undo the small c-shaped or v-shaped clamp that attaches the horizontal bar called the pivot rod to the vertical bar with holes in it (the clevis strap or extension bar). Pinch the clamp and slide it off the pivot rod. Mark the hole where the pivot rod inserts into the horizontal strap so you know where to place it when you reassemble it. Set the clamp aside so you can find it when you need to put everything back together.
- Unscrew the nut that holds the pivot rod to the drainpipe, then remove it and the pivot rod. You should be able to unscrew it by hand, turning counter-clockwise. If necessary, use a wrench to loosen it.
- You can now lift the stopper out of the drain. If the stopper is down, you may need to use your fingernails or a thin tool to lift it up.
- If you need to replace the clevis strap (the one with the holes) you can loosen the screw that attaches it to the lift rod.
You can clean the sink stopper by soaking it in vinegar or soapy water. Scrub it thoroughly with a brush and wipe it clean. If the rubber seal on the bottom of the stopper head is cracked you should replace the stopper.
If you need to replace one of the pieces—usually the stopper—take it to your local home improvement or hardware store. If you only need to replace one piece and can find a sink stopper set that exactly matches your old one, you shouldn’t need to disconnect the drain. Otherwise, you’ll need to disconnect the drain and buy an entire sink stopper replacement kit.
Replacing a Sink Stopper
Again, be sure you protect your bathroom flooring from dripping water, then follow these seven steps to replace a sink stopper:
- Place the stopper back into the drain. The bottom-most part of the stopper will have a tab with a hole in it. The pivot rod will need to insert into this hole, so align the stopper so that the hole is facing the opening where the pivot rod inserts.
- If you have detached the clevis strap from the lift rod, reattach it.
- Slide the pivot rod back into the clevis strap.
- Insert the pivot rod back into the drainpipe at a slight downward angle. You want to make sure the rod inserts into the hole at the bottom of the stopper. You can tell if it's inserted correctly if you can make the stopper pop up and down in the sink.
- Tighten the nut that holds the pivot rod in place. If the nut is too tight, the stopper may not move.
- Pinch the clamp and slide on the pivot rod to attach it to the clevis strip.
- Test the lift rod to make sure the stopper is reattached and working correctly when the sink plug creates a complete seal.
Now that you’ve successfully completed a bathroom sink stopper repair and the water is draining freely, you may be ready to take on other basic plumbing tasks. Here are eight essentials to good plumbing maintenance that may help minimize the number of calls you have to make to your plumber. Looking for more tips? We’ve got you covered:
- How to Unclog a Sink: DIY Tips for Homeowners
- What Not to Do to Your Home's Plumbing
- Toilet Backing Up? Try These DIY Tips
- Septic System Dos and Don'ts
Protection for Your Home Systems and Appliances
Homeowners are on their own when it comes to paying for expensive repairs around the house and that includes plumbing problems that inevitably arise. First American home warranty plans can cover the repair or replacement of many home systems, including plumbing, electrical, and heating, as well as appliances such as the dishwasher, oven, and water heater, when they break down. Find out more about the protection you can enjoy with our home warranty plans or get a free quote in minutes.