A stuck trip lever drain stopper is a common household problem that can usually be fixed with a little troubleshooting. The symptoms of a stuck trip lever are typically water backing up into the sink or tub, or slow drainage.
Failure to take the steps suggested below may result in a broken or cracked sink, or a broken or cracked trip lever. These issues are potentially hazardous and require skill and tools to repair so it makes sense to get this fixed as soon as you notice something strange going on.
In this article, we will show you how to fix your stuck trip lever, troubleshoot the issue, and offer some tips on proper cleaning processes. Let's dive deep into this topic.
How to fix your stuck trip lever
A trip lever drain stopper is held up by a spring which is designed to be strong enough to handle the pull of most drains, but weak enough that it can be pulled down with minimal effort by hand.
To fix your stuck trip lever, follow these steps:
1) Unplug or turn off your garbage disposer if you have one.
2) Locate your trip lever mechanism on the underside of your sink. If you have an overflow hole for a double sink, find the trip lever for the drain without an overflow.
3) Remove any strainer baskets or strainers from both sinks if they are installed.
4) Pull down gently on the handle of your trip lever until it reaches its lowest point and then lift it again about ¼ inch (the distance of the length of your index finger).
5) Using needle-nose pliers or a pair of locking pliers (if you don't have a needle nose), grab onto the small metal tab sticking up from the mechanism on the underside of your sink. Pull down very gently and slowly on the tab. If it doesn't move, then you have a stuck trip lever that is not going to be easy to fix.
6) Look down into the drain and see if any hair or debris is clogging up the mechanism inside. Pull out anything that you see. Also, look over the cord leading from the wall to your disposal (or dishwasher) for any loose wires or fraying that would indicate that it needs to be replaced.
7) Reach underneath again and pull down on the trip lever until it reaches its lowest point and lift it back up about ¼ inch again, repeating until you feel resistance each time as if something is catching on something else, or until you can hold your hand without pulling down on the handle.
8) Once your trip lever has gone back up about ¼ inch, pull down on the handle again quickly and let go. Repeat many times until you can lift it by hand without any aid. Now reassemble everything.
Another thing that may cause this problem is a broken wire in the cord leading from the wall to the disposal which also requires professional help due to safety reasons associated with electrical repairs.
The best way to prevent your trip lever from getting stuck is by practicing good kitchen hygiene, including cleaning under the sink regularly (at least once per week), occasionally pulling out the garbage disposal and giving it a good scrub, making sure everything is dry before reassembling, adequately drying your hands after using the bathroom or washing your hands, and more common sense hygiene tips (more on this later).
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Replacing the trip lever
If your trip lever is broken or damaged it should be replaced. This is typically done by disconnecting the old one and connecting the new one. If you are replacing, it may be easier to just replace the whole assembly. To remove an old trip lever you will need to disconnect the wire leading from the wall to your disposal (or dishwasher). This can be done with a Phillips screwdriver which removes two screws holding this wire in place. Remove both sides of the cord so that there are no longer any metal parts touching each other inside of where they connect.
When putting in a new assembly, first determine if your sink has enough space underneath where it connects to the garbage disposer and the countertop (or stovetop). If not, then you may need to purchase a new assembly with an adjustable trip lever.
If space is adequate, you can install it yourself by:
- Plugging the wire back into the wall and making sure it's in place
- putting aside one piece of the old assembly (the part that went under the sink)
- adding your new assembly to its socket underneath where it connects to your disposal (or dishwasher)
- plugging in the cord
- fastening to your disposal again with screws
- cutting off excess cord if needed
- attaching remaining parts of the old assembly as necessary according to instructions for use.
House cleaning habits to keep in mind
If you do not know how to use a garbage disposal and all of its functions, then you need to familiarize yourself with these operations and their effect on your sink. Disposal units are relatively safe appliances as long as they are used properly and maintained regularly. To avoid any unnecessary accidents or damages, always clean out the drain after every use (this should take less than one minute). Additionally, if there is ever a problem with your units such as clogged parts or jammed blades, contact the manufacturer immediately since it might require a specific type of solution to fix that problem. This solution might be one that requires professional input.
Additionally, there are various bad cleaning habits that you need to break when it comes to the cleanliness of your sink. For example, it is never a good idea to pour any type of oil down the drain, especially if you're trying to avoid clogged pipes or even unpleasant smells in your home. The best way for you to dispose of oils is by collecting them in a cup and letting them solidify before putting them in the trash can with tongs (since this will make it easier for you to do so).
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Making disinfectant wipes
While cleaning your garbage disposal is as easy as running hot water and then turning it on, another good way to ensure there is no spread of pests (such as cockroaches) in your home is by using disinfectant wipes. These should be purchased at any local store near you.
Disinfectant wipes are useful because they kill almost all forms of bacteria through their harsh chemicals while also allowing you to control how much cleaning solution you use since they come with their applicator (this makes it easier for you to clean under appliances).
Final thoughts on stuck trip lever drain stopper
In conclusion, the main cause of a sticking trip lever stopper is usually due to mineral deposits. Fixing the problem can be done at home but might sometimes require professional help.
The installation process is not necessarily difficult either, but it is rather time-consuming. If you’re not confident and doing this yourself, it is highly recommended that you get professional help to ensure that this is done correctly.