How to Replace Bathtub Drain


So, you have the old-style bathtub drain installed.  What’s wrong with it?  Why should you replace it?  First off, there is really nothing wrong if you have an old-style bathtub drain, but, if you can replace it with a more efficient and low maintenance lift-and-turn drain, why not?  Secondly, switching to a low maintenance one does not cost that much and is actually relatively easy to install.  Third, the old-style bathtub drain makes use of such complicated linkages that is difficult to manage in case of problems.  How can you replace your bathtub drain?

Preparing the Tools

As with any type of plumbing project, you need to make sure that you have all the right tools on hand before you start anything.  This is not only good practice, but will also save you a lot of time and frustration as you go through the process.  Here are the things that you need to prepare:

  • Screwdriver;
  • Cold chisel;
  • Pair of pliers;
  • Hacksaw;
  • Plumber’s putty; and
  • Lift-and-turn stopper.

The replacement kit that will allow you to install the lift-and-turn stopper is available at most home centers and hardware stores in your area.  Normally a lift-and-turn stopper should cost you no more than $20 on the average.

Replacing the Drain

What is the most common problem experienced with old-style lever bathtub drains?  Usually it will no longer pop up because the complicated linkage that it uses has become severely clogged or damaged.  At this point it would be ideal to replace it with the simpler and more efficient lift-and-turn style drain.

The newer drain style does not attract as much hair and dirt as the older style bathtub drains.  This means that you do not have to clean them as much to ensure that the drain remains in proper working order.  The low maintenance drain is designed to catch almost everything at the drain gate.  This translates to easier cleaning of hair and dirt; the two common causes of bathtub drain clogging.

How can you replace the old-style bathtub drain?  You begin by unscrewing the overflow plate.  This allows you to pull out the upper linkage of the overflow pipe.  Proceed by popping out the drain stopper to remove the lower linkage.  By firmly tugging on both parts of the drain’s linkage you can easily pull it out even if it has stuck to the inside of the overflow pipe.

In case the linkage has already stuck and become difficult to remove, just have patience and grab hold of it tightly so that you can tug on it as hard as you can.  Once it pops out simply screw on the replacement overflow place after all the old linkage is removed.

After you successfully remove the body of the old stopper you shouldn’t encounter much difficulty from that point on.  In case you find it difficult to unscrew, try to heat it with a hair dryer that is set to high.  This helps in loosening the old plumber’s putty that holds it in place.  You can also opt to cut out the old stopper body to get it out.  You just have to be careful that you do not cause any damage to the bathtub when you try this method.

To install the new stopper and stopper body of the lift-and-turn style drain, slide in the new rubber gasket at the top of the drainpipe located under the tub.  Insert the new drain flange and keep it in place using the plumber’s putty.  Make sure that you use the bushing supplied with the new drain if the threads do not match.  The stopper can be simply screwed into the stopper body to finish the entire job.

You have successfully replaced your old-style bathtub drain with a more efficient one.  Remember that if you persistently encounter problems with your drains, call Scott English Plumbing immediately!