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How to Repair the Bathroom Sink Stopper

Written by Vaughan Comfort Services on . Posted in .

As your home ages, it is common for it to need repair. Both interior and exterior parts age, even with the very best of care and maintenance. The hardware and other parts of your house will deteriorate, and at some point, much of it will need to be replaced. Your bathroom sink, for example, gets used multiple times every day. Because of that, it is very prone to wear and tear.

If your sink is draining slowly, that can be easy to ignore, at least for a while. Unfortunately, the problem will only get worse over time, and eventually, your sink drain will completely stop working. Before you end up with a faucet or sink that does not work for your needs, or simply does not work at all, it is important to know how to repair the stopper in a bathroom sink.

Vaughan Comfort Services can repair your drain for you and save you time and frustration in the process. By reaching out to us, you can address clogs in your bathroom sink drain, stopper problems, and other issues that might not offer a DIY solution. When fixing it yourself is not comfortable or practical, we can handle the problem and get it corrected for you quickly. Contact us today by calling 856-627-0303  or by using our online contact form.

How Does a Pop-Up Stopper Work?

Repairing a sink stopper does not have to be a complicated task, but it definitely helps to have additional knowledge of the issue. Before you start your repairs it is extremely helpful to know how the pop-up stopper in your bathroom sink operates. The majority of bathrooms have either traditional sink stoppers or universal sink stoppers.

Most bathrooms, especially those found in older homes, use traditional sink stoppers. These have been around longer and are still very popular, so you will find them in many sinks. Even though they look like they might be complicated, they are actually very simple. A few minutes of examination can show you how these stoppers operate, taking the worry out of repair.

These traditional stoppers work by a system of links and levers that move the stopper down to seal the sink and up to let it drain. If you look up under the sink, behind the drain pipe, and under the faucet assembly, you can see the rods and levers that move the stopper up and down when you pull the stopper. This handle is generally right behind the faucet or in between the cold and hot handles.

A universal sink stopper isn’t the same as a traditional stopper. Universal stoppers work by pressing down on the actual stopper in the sink drain. A spring-loaded mechanism holds the stopper in place and closes the drain. When you want to reopen the drain, you simply press on the stopper again. The same spring pops the drain back up. Because these do not have as many parts to wear out or break, they are becoming more popular with remodels and new builds.

What Are the Most Important Parts of a Pop-Up Drain?

Before you get started on the task at hand, it is important to understand what parts you will need to fix the pop-up assembly on your bathroom sink stopper. Then, you can identify what you are viewing more clearly and determine what parts you may need to replace. The parts of a traditional drain stopper include:

  • Lift rod
  • Pop-up plug
  • Clevis and clevis screw
  • Flange
  • Drain body
  • Set screw
  • Spring clip
  • Pivot rod and pivot ball
  • Retaining nut
  • Tailpiece

While fixing or replacing a traditional sink drain stopper is a relatively common home repair, it can take time and effort. Getting the linkage adjusted right when putting in a new stopper may also take some trial and error for homeowners who have not done this kind of repair before. The good news is that the vast majority of homeowners can make this repair on their own.

What Tools Do I Need to Fix My Drain Stopper?

You may find that you need washers, a screwdriver, plumber’s putty, and a bit of patience to repair or replace a pop-up drain stopper. Knowing the tools you will need to get the stopper repaired makes it much easier to handle this task. You can get everything ready ahead of time, so you do not have to stop the process to hunt for parts or tools.

Not only does that help reduce frustration, but it can make the process of repair faster and more efficient, as well. If making a bathroom sink drain repair is part of your “to do” list, you likely want to finish it as quickly as possible and move on to the next item. Being prepared is an excellent way to make that a more likely scenario.

To fix your bathroom sink pop-up stopper, you may want a repair kit with the parts you will need, especially if you plan to replace parts instead of only cleaning or repairing them. Along with that kit, you want to have the following tools:

  • Channel-lock pliers: No matter which type of stopper you have, it can be helpful to have channel-lock pliers, so you can get a firm grip on the drain flange while you remove and reassemble the stopper.
  • Cleaning tools: A soft-bristle brush with a mild cleaning solution such as dish soap, or even vinegar, can help clean any dirty parts and the drain opening
  • Utility knife: Having a knife on hand is great for cutting through old plumber’s putty.
  • Gloves: You should always have gloves to protect yourself from injury.
  • Screwdriver: You need to be able to adjust the set screw to make sure the stopper opens and closes at the right distance.
  • Wrench: Much like pliers, an adjustable wrench can help you get a grip on parts that need to be loosened or tightened while other parts are held steady.
  • Plumber’s putty: Plumber’s putty is used around the drain hole when you reassemble the stopper and install it to provide a thorough seal and reduce the chance of a leak.
  • Pipe joint compound: You will need this to seal up any joints in the PVC pipe since you do not want your repaired drain assembly to leak where it is connected to the sink’s drain pipe.

How Can I Repair My Bathroom Sink Stopper?

Repairing the stopper in your bathroom sink may seem daunting, but it does not have to be. Now that you know what the parts are, and what tools you need for the work, you can feel confident that this is a DIY project you can tackle. Most homeowners can learn to safely and efficiently make these minor kinds of repairs. Here is what you need to do.

Step One: Take Apart the Faulty Drain Assembly

1. Disconnect the pivot rod and extension bar.

2. Remove the pivot nut from the drain stopper.

3. Undo the screw fastened to the lift rod.

4. Pull out the drain stopper.

Be careful not to use excessive force when you remove the stopper. You may have to wiggle and rotate it a bit to get it to come out without prying on it. Too much force can cause damage.

Step Two: Clean or Replace Faulty Parts

Often, if there are issues with your sink draining too slowly or the stopper not sealing correctly, you can resolve the issue by cleaning the parts. Using a soft-bristled brush and mild cleaning solution, or vinegar if you prefer, thoroughly clean all the parts of your sink stopper assembly.

Depending on your specific situation and the age of your sink, you might need to replace all or part of the sink drain. If you only need to replace parts of it, checking out your local home improvement store should help you find a match.

When you head to the store, take along the pieces you have disconnected, including the lift handle, pivot rod, extension bar, drain plug, and other parts. It is even better if you know the brand and model of your sink drain. A lot of homeowners do not have that information, though, and you can still fix your sink drain without it.

Finding the replacement parts that match up correctly, and ideally parts from the same model and brand, means you can get them installed and fix your sink stopper without the need to actually disconnect the drain. That is easier and more convenient, but it may not always be possible.

Step Three: Disconnect the Drain

1. Disassemble the P-trap from the drain line.

2. Unfasten the Stopper Drain Tailpiece From the Underside of the Sink

3. Remove the Locknut That Holds the Drain in Place

4. Pull out the Drain From the Sink Basin

Step Four: Replace Your Sink Stopper Drain

If you do not want to repair your sink stopper, or it is too damaged to fix, you can buy a completely new sink stopper assembly and install it. You might want to take the opportunity to switch from a traditional stopper to a universal pop-up stopper. These are easy to maintain, and have an internal spring that does not require the rod and lever assembly of a traditional drain stopper.

No matter which one you choose, make sure you take a careful look at the product information before buying from your local home improvement store or off of Amazon. You want to be sure that the stopper you choose is actually compatible with your sink. Even stoppers that say they are universal may not fit everything available, and it is better to find that out before buying, instead of in the middle of trying to install it.

1. Place New Drain Into Sink Opening

When you put the new drain into the sink, make sure you line the sink opening with plumber’s putty. Be sure that the drain is aligned correctly, and press it gently into the putty.

2. Retighten the Locknut on the Underside of Sink

Stack any included gaskets on top of the locknut, and then carefully tighten it down firmly. You will want to clean up any extra putty that squeezes out when you tighten the drain so you have a nice, tight seal, and there is no mess.

3. Reattach the Tailpiece

To properly reattach the tailpiece, you want to make sure it aligns with the back wall of the cabinet. That way you can attach the pivot rod to the correct place. You might also have to make the tailpiece longer or shorter, depending on the size and design of the new sink stopper assembly.

4. Attach the P-Trap to the Tailpipe

The P-Trap is an essential part of the plumbing for a bathroom sink. Make sure you attach it solidly, and that it is correctly tightened onto the tailpiece coming from the drain assembly. That way you will not have to worry about leaks later.

5. Connect Pivot Rod to Necessary Parts

The pivot rod needs to be inserted into the hole found at the bottom of the stopper. Then you will tighten the rod with a retaining nut. Before tightening the nut, slide the pivot rod through the spring clip and the clevis.

6. Make Adjustments as Needed

Once everything is connected and properly tightened, test the sink. You will be looking to ensure the stopper is working fluidly, and that there are no leaks. If the stopper does not keep water in the sink, you can adjust the connection between the extension bar and the pivot rod. That is generally done by changing where they connect. Try moving the pivot rod up one hold in the extension bar, and check to see if the stopper is sealing correctly.

Don’t Let a Broken Sink Ruin Your Day! Call Us to Take Your Trouble Away

There is no reason you need to struggle with bathroom sink issues. You can repair the stopper in a bathroom sink on your own in most cases, but you do not have to worry about it when you can reach out to the professionals at Vaughan Comfort Services to do it for you. We also handle all types of sink and plumbing problems, so you can have peace of mind when you reach out to us for support.

Call us today at 856-627-0303 or use our online contact form to get in touch. We are here to help you feel more comfortable in your home, and have peace of mind that your home’s plumbing system is working correctly. If you need a bathroom sink drain or bathroom faucet repaired or replaced, calling us is the first step toward using your home’s fixtures with confidence again.

NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521

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212 Barrett Avenue
Magnolia, NJ 08049

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