A bathtub drain stopper is an essential element of your bathtub. Having the best pick helps you enjoy seamless bathing sessions and gives you the freedom to control how much water stays in and leaves your bathtub.
Today, the market is full of varying types of bathtub drain stoppers, each with unique features but with the same functionality in your bathtub.
Learning about the different bathtub drain stopper types and choosing the right one determines how enjoyable your bathing experience becomes when you get into the tub.
There are six best types of bathtub drain stoppers you can get on the market today.
While the main purpose of a tub stopper is to control water flow in and out of the tub, the different types achieve this duty differently. One can be a great fit for you, while the other can be a nightmare to use.
The Six Best Types of Bathtub Drain Stoppers
Picking a bathtub drain stopper is a daunting task since you'll be picking from the best types of bathtub drain stoppers.
However, you can always go for the one that will give you the easiest time and is easy to install or replace if it fails to work.
Here are the top drain stopper options we tried and tested that you should consider in 2023.
1. Lift and Turn Tub Drain Stopper
The key identity of this drain stopper is the small-sized knob on its cap that you use to open or close the stopper.
You close this stopper by turning the nob atop it until it lowers down. To open it, you'll turn it anticlockwise until it can't turn anymore and can allow water down the drain.
Today, most models are fitted with spring, which makes the stopper pop back into the open position all by itself.
Once you buy a lift and turn the drain stopper, you'll need to install it tightly in place to avoid unnecessary leaks.
The process is easy; you'll only need to screw a center set screw found under the cap of the drain stopper, deep into the threaded sections of the drain crossbar.
It would be best to take a little care when tightening the stopper as it can become a little challenging to remove when over-tightened. Also, it would help if you considered removing it once in a while to prevent it from sticking tightly into position after a long time.
Be that as it may, lift and turn drain stoppers bear simple mechanical designs that rarely need much attention. All you might need to worry about is the occasional removal of the small plug to clear off debris and hair clogging the water path.
Compared to the next option we tested, the lift and turn and toe-touch drain stoppers are both operated by manually turning the stopper to open and close the drain. However, the toe-touch stopper is activated by pushing it down with your foot, while the lift-and-turn stopper is lifted and rotated with your hand.
2. Toe – Touch Tub Drain Stopper
A toe-touch stopper is also known as a foot-actuated stopper. You can easily confuse a toe touch stopper for the lift the push-pull or the lift and turn stoppers.
The tub stopper uses a spring but is installed in the same manner these two drain stoppers are installed.
The body of this tub stopper is fastened in place on the drain fitting's crossbar by a screw that's found below the stopper's cap.
Operating tub drain stoppers of this type is easier when in the bathtub as you only have to use your toe to close or open it.
You'll rarely have mechanical problems with this toe tap stopper when you take excellent care of it. However, with time the spring will wear out, prompting you to replace the entire stopper.
Regardless of the type of bathtub you're using, installing this drainage stopper is always straightforward. The toe-touch and push-pull drain stoppers both use a push-button mechanism to open and close the drain, but the push-pull stopper requires a separate mechanism to lock it in place. This is one of the best types of bathtub drain stoppers to consider for a modern bathtub.
3. Push-Pull Bathtub Drain Stopper
You can easily confuse push-pull stoppers with the lift and turn one when looking at its design and outward looks. However, the difference comes in how the two are opened and closed.
A push-pull bathtub drain stopper is, as its name suggests, pushed and pulled to close or open it. You don't need to turn it in clockwise and anticlockwise directions to block or allow water to leave the tub.
When installing a push-and-pull model, you'll need to fasten the setscrew underneath the cap of the stopper to attach the stopper body onto the drain firmly.
Unlike other bathtub drain stopper types, this tub stopper's design enables it to last for a long without frequent calls for repair or replacement. So you can count on the push-and-pull tub stopper to serve you for a long time when everything is in good shape.
4. Flip-it Bathtub Drain Stopper
This is basically one of the easiest bathtub drain stopper types to install without using any installation tools. You fix the tub stopper into the tub drain hole to install it. Its in-built O-rings will firmly hold it in position once you've set it on the drain hole.
There's a toggle lever that's attached to the right side above the tub stopper, which you move from one side to another to close or open the stopper.
Once you've placed this stopper on top of the drain opening, you'll flip the lever at 180 degrees to push the rubber seal against the edges of the drain. This action prevents any water from getting past the drain stopper.
To release the water down the drain, flip the lever in the opposite direction and lift it off the drain fitting.
Over time, it is normal for the rubber seal on the lever to get worn out and become ineffective. Once that happens, you can easily replace it with a new one to restore it to its former perfect working order. The flip-it stopper is similar to the push-pull stopper but uses a different type of button to operate.
5. Pop-Up Tub Drain Stopper
It is easier to confuse this stopper's drain end with the traditional pop-up in bathroom sinks since they bear the same design makeup. The pop-up and trip lever drain stoppers are both designed to be operated by a lever on the overflow plate, but they function in slightly different ways.
A pop-up stopper is also always likened to the trip lever since the same lever type usually operates it on its overflow/cover plate.
When you lift the lever, the connecting rod linking to the overflow tube equally moves to rotate the rocker arm connecting to the pop-up drain stopper.
The pop-up stopper is operated by a spring that connects to it from the rear end of its connecting rod. Therefore, when the lever moves, the spring will press opposite the rocker's arm and in turn run the stopper.
Cleaning and maintaining this stopper can prove challenging most of the time. You have to remove both the rocker arm and the stopper via the drain-through way. Then you'll have to pull the connecting rod linkage out via the draining pipe and the cover plate.
You'll then get rid of hair and debris clogged on the overflow plate and tube and clean the rod linkage and stopper before returning everything to the position.
Most users always fail to open their pop-up stoppers with this complicated cleaning method, making the stoppers more likely to attract hair and other debris clogs.
6. Trip Lever Bathtub Drain Stopper
A trip lever stopper is a tested stopper model that features a lever on the overflow plate in front of the bathtub.
The visible pop-up stopper is replaced with a strainer in this model placed in your bathtub's drain opening.
The working of this lever is a little complicated. It connects to a lever attached to a rod mechanism hidden behind the bathtub.
The lever is connected to an internal plunger inside the tub's overflow tube that moves up and down to close and open the drain pipe.
When the trip lever drops down, the plunger rises, and the drain becomes open for water to flow out of the bathtub.
On the reverse, when the lever is pushed up, the plunge will be forced down to close the drain pipe and keep water in your tub as long as you want it.
This bathtub drain stopper model is also a little challenging to remove for cleaning and maintenance. The whole process involves extraction by pulling the entire stopper out through the overflow tube and plate.
If this is too tough for you to use, there is a variation of the same model that you can use. It uses a twist cover on the overflow plate that rotates right and left to lower and raise the plunger instead of the lever.
How to Remove and Replace Bathtub Drain Stoppers from a Drain Opening
A bathtub drain stopper will likely fail at one point or the other during its lifetime.
When the water flow in your bathtub starts getting slower, it could mean the drain stopper is dysfunctional or clogs of hair and other debris are stopping water flow. Speaking of water, here's another article on fixing a leaky bathtub faucet that you might be interested in.
You need to remove the drain stopper once in a while to clean it and carry out necessary repairs if needed.
Here's how you can effectively remove and replace your drain stoppers.
1. Lift and Turn
Removing this stopper shouldn't be a challenging endeavor. Here are the steps you should follow.
- Use one hand to hold the body of the stopper firmly in place when the stopper is in its ‘open' position.
- Turn the knob slowly in an anticlockwise direction as you look for a set screw on the knob. If it doesn't have one, you should continue turning it in the same direction until the stopper opens from the strainer for easy removal.
- If the post threads are stripped, it could be difficult to unscrew the stopper. You can gently pull the stopper upward while turning to get the whole piece out smoothly.
- With the help of a standard flathead screwdriver, you can easily loosen the set screw. Be careful not to remove the screw entirely as it can easily fall into the drainpipe in the process.
Here's how you go about removing your toe-touch bathtub stopper.
- Put your stopper in the ‘Open' position.
- Check whether your toe-touch has a top cap that you can unscrew from the base cylinder that's threaded into a crossbar in the strainer. Or if it only has one unit that's threaded into the crossbar.
- Firmly hold the base of the cylinder while turning the top cap anticlockwise. If the entire stopper is moving when you're turning, stop the turning, let go of the cylinder base and continue to unscrew until the entire unit is free to remove.
- By now, you should have removed the top cap by twisting it anticlockwise if your stopper has one before you proceed to remove the cylinder base.
- n other instances, you will need a standard flathead screwdriver to unscrew the cylinder from the strainer crossbar.
This is one of the easiest to remove and replace:
- First, remove the knob that's on top of the stopper.
- Then, use one hand to firmly hold the base of the stopper and turn the knob in an anticlockwise direction using the other hand until it's free.
- If it's too tight to unscrew by hand, you might use a washcloth or rag to wrap around the knob for increased friction, then use pliers to open it.
- Once you've removed the knob, you should see a post that connects the stopper to the crossbar of the strainer. Use a standard flathead screwdriver to unscrew the post and lift it off from the strainer.
Removing a flip-it stopper is the easiest of all.
- Start with the stopper in an open position, then grab the plug by hand and rotate it outwards. While rotating the stopper, pull it upwards to set the O-rings free and release the stopper.
Some pop-up stoppers have a trip lever on the overflow faceplate that moves up and down, while others have levers that rotate left and right. To remove the stopper, you will:
- Put the stopper in an open position by flipping the trip lever or rotating the overflow faceplate.
- Depending on the pop-up stopper you're using, you'll either easily pull it straight up or wiggle it back and forth when pulling it up. Both ways, the stopper will finally get loose, and you'll be able to remove it.
6. Trip Lever
Here's how you go about removing a trip lever.
- Find all the screws on the trip lever.
- Remove all the screws from the cover plate of the trip lever and only one screw from the faceplate as you begin.
- Once you've removed one of the screws in the faceplate, hold the faceplate firmly as you begin to remove the other screw.
- Remove the faceplate.
- Pull out the trip lever and get it away from the tub wall.
With the above steps, you can rest assured that the bathtub stoppers will come out faster and more conveniently.
To replace any bathtub stopper options, you'll follow the installation process captured above in each stopper.
What to Consider When Choosing Between the Best Types of Bathroom Drain Stoppers
Now that you know the tried and tested best types of bathtub drain stoppers that are must-haves this year, you should think about the following factors:
Some drain stoppers could be simpler to use than others. A pop-up drain stopper, for instance, can be engaged with just a push, whereas a plunger-style stopper might require more effort to seal.
The drain stopper's lifetime and durability may depend on the material and design used in its manufacturing. Seek for a drain stopper that is constructed from durable materials and can survive repeated use.
Cleaning and maintaining some types of drain stoppers may be simpler than others. For instance, a pop-up stopper may need more work to disassemble and clean than a lift-and-turn stopper, which may be quickly removed for cleaning.
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Bathtub Drain Stopper FAQs
What can I use to plug my bathtub drain?
Typically you can use any of the best types of bathtub drain stoppers we evaluated which are sold in local stores.
However, if you can't get any of those, you can use the following readily available options:
- A small plastic medicine cup
- Single-serve coffee cups
- A fitting plastic lid from a jam container
- A sponge inserted into a small plastic bag
These options should do an excellent job of creating a closed position to stop draining.
What is the best tub drain stopper for my drain opening?
Different bathtubs would demand you use different drain stoppers. However, a majority of drain stoppers can perfectly work well with any bathtub. You'll therefore choose the option that has the least maintenance and installation demands, like lift and turn or toe-touch stoppers.
What's the work of an overflow plate?
Also known as an overflow cover plate, its main duty is to prevent water in the bathtub from overflowing and spilling over your floor and other items.
What's the work of an Overflow Pipe in a Bathtub?
The overflow pipe is responsible for draining away all excess water from your bathtub once the water hits a certain level in the bathtub. It also helps to prevent flooding in your bathroom.
Bathtub Drain Stopper: A Final Word
Installing bathtub drain stoppers gives you an upper hand in enjoying stress-free baths in your bathtub. However, it is important to choose a stopper model that best complements your bathtub specifications and is a tried, tested, and trustworthy option.
The easier it is to install and maintain your stopper, the better your experience becomes. Most homeowners find it more challenging to remove and replace the stoppers, so it's better to choose a less stressful model.