How to Remove Bathtub Drain and Install a New One in 5 Easy Steps

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It all starts with the water in your tub draining slowly and you probably ignore it hoping the tub drain will somehow unclog itself and the drain speed will improve.

Unlucky for you, the bathtub drain fails to get any better, and instead, it becomes even worse and eventually stops draining completely.

What follows is a blocked tub drain and all the dirty water remains stuck in your bathtub. You can’t bathe and you can’t get rid of the water.

It’s even worse when all these happen at odd hours during weekends or holidays and you can’t call your plumber to come and fix the tub.

Do you leave everything as it is and wait for the next appropriate time to call your plumber?

That wouldn’t be healthy and fair for you and your bathtub.

That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to remove bathtub drains so you can handle everything alone when you’re the only person at home.

But before that, why would you need to remove a bathtub drain? Let’s find out.

Common Reasons for Removing a Tub Drain

There are several viable reasons for removing a bathtub drain. Removing the drain from your tub can be challenging and tiresome.

You, therefore, need a good reason to remove the bathtub drain and engage in all the hustle and bustle that comes along with it.

Here are some of the common reasons why you may need to remove the drain in your bathtub.

To Allow for Refinishing and Upgrade Work

 

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If you’re planning to upgrade or refinish your bathtub, you can only proceed with the work effectively once everything is out of the way, including the bathtub drain.

You need to remove the drain before any finishing or upgrading work to allow for a smooth

and effective transition.

If you fail to remove the drain before starting with the refinishing work, the drain will end up resting on the original porcelain and not on the new material you’ve installed.

With this scenario, the water pressure building around the material will cause the material to fail, thus reducing its lifespan. You may end up budgeting for another refinishing work sooner.

To Unclog Your Bathtub Drain

This is the most common reason why everyone removes a bathtub drain. When your drain opening gets clogged with mineral and dirt build-up, you’ll need to get the drain from your tub removed before you can access the drain opening to unclog your bathtub drain.

Removing the drain in your bathtub will make it easier to access the accumulating junk in the drainpipe or opening. This way you can get your bathtub drain working normally again.

You should invest in an excellent tub drain stopper to help catch materials as they go down the drain. This makes your work easier next time there is a clog.

You’ll only need to remove the drain stopper, clean it and return it to prevent drain obstruction.

While there are more other reasons for removing the drain, these two are the most common. You should avoid the frequent removal of the tub drain unless there’s a crucial call to do so.

Removing the Bathtub Drain in Five Easy Steps

 

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Whether you’re getting the bathtub ready for a remodeling exercise or you need to unclog a blocked drain, removing the drain is inevitable.

It is therefore important to understand how to go about the whole process faster with minimal struggle.

Here’s how to remove the drain easily without seeking help from a professional plumber.

1st Step: Remove the Tub Drain Stopper or the Screen

Removing the tub drain stopper or the screen allows you to access the tub’s drain fitting.

If you’re using a tub with a screen, removing it should be easy and fast. With the help of a flathead screwdriver, pry beneath the screen to pop it off.

You should see something like a bucket or plunger-like stopper that blocks the water inside the drain pipe.

The case is different for a tub using a drain stopper in place of a screen.

There are different types of drain stoppers and it’s only fair that we discussed how to remove the most common types of drain stoppers in the market today.

a)  A Push-Pull Drain Stopper

Push-pull stoppers are easy to close or open. You simply turn the knob on the top of the stoppers to either open or close them.

However, to remove push-pull stoppers from the tub you’ll need to use both hands and be more careful.

You’ll have to hold the stopper’s body in an open position with one hand while at the same time turning the knob in a counterclockwise direction with the other hand.

With the knob out, you can proceed to unscrew the rest of the stopper and completely remove it from the drain.

b)  A Toe-Touch Drain Stopper

For a toe-touch drain stopper, you’ll need to grasp the head with one hand in an open position and the shaft with the other hand or using a wrench.

Then rotate the head in a counterclockwise direction to fully detach it from the crossbar.

Once the head is off the crossbar you’ll see the screw underneath. Unscrew it using your flathead screwdriver to completely remove the stopper from the tub.

c)  A Lift and Turn Drain Stopper

Holding the knob with one hand and rotating the bathtub stopper knob with the other in a counterclockwise direction, you’ll easily remove the knob to expose the stopper screw.

Once the screw is visible, you can unscrew it using a set screw to set loose the entire stopper.

Alternatively, you can unscrew the whole stopper using a wrench or your hands if you cannot get a set screw to remove the screw holding the stopper individually.

d)  Other Types of Drain Stoppers

Many other types of bathtub drain stoppers exist in bathtubs today. Removing sink stoppers isn’t much complicated and you’ll pretty much have to follow almost the same procedure as in the above processes.

If you have any of these kinds of stoppers, you can easily find your way around removing them or you can call a professional plumber to help you out.

2nd Step: Heat the Bathtub Drain to Soften the Sealant

This step ushers you into the main part of the work – removing the drain flange.

Heating the tub drain before commencing the main drain removal process helps to soften the plumber’s putty that’s used to seal the drain in place.

This way, it becomes easier to remove the drain as the plumber’s putty will offer minimal resistance when you start pulling the drain out.

The best way to heat the sealant is by using a hairdryer.

 

Blow hot hair from the hairdryer into the drain, focusing on the edges with the sealant to soften it up before pulling out the drain.

3rd Step: Remove the Bathtub Drain Flange

There are two main methods you could use to remove a bathtub drain or drain flange.

You can either remove the drain using a plug drain wrench or locking pliers.

Depending on the tools you have available you can choose the method that best fits you and you’re most comfortable with.

Here’s how to remove the drain with these two easy options.

Removing the Drain with Locking Pliers

 

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Begin by inserting the needle-nose locking pliers into the drain opening and only stop inserting when the jaws can’t move any deeper.

While inserting, ensure the jaws are on the opposite sides of the crossbars, above the center of the ‘X’ cross sign.

Once you have the needle-nose locking pliers secured, you can use a second pair of standard pliers to turn the locking pliers and loosen the drain effortlessly.

Removing the Drain with a Plug Drain Wrench

A plug wrench is a sizeable pliers-like apparatus that’s made of cast iron or steel. It is milled to gain access to the crossbars of more than two different sizes of drains.

It is an important tool for removing bathtub drains, and it’s important to buy one from the hardware store if you’re going to be removing your bathtub's drain from more often.

To remove the drain with this plug drain wrench, you’ll have to insert its end into the tines on the drain wrench fit on the crossbars of the drain.

Since plug wrenches come in various head sizes, you can pick the size that best fits into your drain wrench fit.

Once it fits in position, use a larger adjustable wrench or tongue-and-groove pliers to turn and loosen the drain in an anticlockwise direction.

You can continue unthreading the drain with your hand once it’s loose enough to turn freely.

4th Step: Clean off the Sealant from the Drain Opening

 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Since the drain is now out of the way, you can easily clean the old seal from any old sealant stuck around the drain.

To execute this task successfully, you’ll need a putty knife or a flathead screwdriver, and a rag.

Use either the putty knife or the flathead screwdriver to scrape off any plumper’s putty remaining on the drain opening.

You can follow up with the rag to completely get rid of any stubborn remains for a perfectly clean drain opening. You can use bathroom cleaning products to perfect the clean.

5th Step: Install a New Drain

You only get to this step if your intention for removing the drain was to replace it with a new drain.

Once you have the drain hole cleaned, you can wait for a few minutes for the moisture around the threads to dry before installing the new drain.

Now apply putty around the new drain’s base and screw it in with the help of a drain wrench or pliers.

Screwing in the drain will force out some putty around the seal. Once you’ve tightly screwed in the tub drain, you should clean off the excess putty to leave behind a perfectly clean tub drain.

Once you have everything set and in place, you can continue enjoying the services of your bathtub once more.

DIY Bathtub Drain Removal will save you Money

Learning how to remove and install a drain for your bathtub will help you save the money and time that you would have used to hire a qualified plumber.

However, you need to be perfect with your DIY removal process so that there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference between your work and that of the professional you would have hired.

When you follow the tips above to the latter, you can rest assured that you will have a seamless DIY process.

You don’t have to struggle with bathtub drain removal roles anymore. Follow these tips for the best outcome.

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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