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How To Remove The Bathtub Drain

Want to remove a bathtub drain stopper? Fixed Today Plumbing have the ultimate DIY guide to removing your bathtub drain stopper.

There are plenty of reasons you may need to remove a bathtub drain. Perhaps a filter prevents you from accessing the tub drain to clear it out. Or it would help if you replaced the tub drain stopper. Or if the drain fitting is badly corroded or leaks and needs to be replaced.

Remove Bathroom Drain

In this post, we take you through the parts you need to remove the drain and how to do it step-by-step.

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How to Remove a Drain Tub Stopper

The first step to removing a bathtub drain is to figure out how to remove this stopper. Many modern baths contain unique drain tub stoppers. These drain stoppers can be tricky to remove, making it difficult to remove the drain. How you achieve drain removal will depend on what type of tub drain stopper you have. For instance, a pop-up stopper has a complicated assembly threaded through the overflow drain. You need to know about the drain stopper mechanism to make it easy on your part to remove the drain.

If you locate a lever at the back of your tub, lifting it should remove the stopper for you. However, other designs will require more effort on your part. Here are some tips on eliminating other stopper mechanisms from your bath.


If your bath contains a push-pull stopper, this is relatively easy to deal with. You can grab your push-pull drain stopper and twist it anticlockwise. After you have turned it in enough, you should be able to lift it out.

If it doesn’t move, try wrapping cloth or another piece of fabric around it and using pliers (some won’t advise using needle nose pliers) or a drain wrench to turn it. This should give you enough grip to get it to turn.


With a toe-touch stopper style, you’ll need first to open it. Remove the toe-touch drain stopper by holding the top in one hand and the shaft in the other. Then detach the head by turning it anticlockwise until it can be removed. There will likely be a screw uncovered under the head, which can be removed with a screwdriver.


This is one of the most straightforward kinds of stoppers to remove. Grab and pull it, which should pop it out of your tub.

Lift and Turn

Rotate this stopper until you can see a set screw on the knob. Loosen this with a hex wrench or screwdriver, or drain wrench. Remove the screw, and then you should be able to take off the knob. Lift out the drain stopper and unscrew the post.

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Tools Removing the Flange may Require

For those who don’t know, the visible section of the drain is called the flange. Usually, the drain’s tailpiece is where the flange is screwed onto. The tailpiece is what the pipes under the tub are referred to as, and it connects up to the main drain pipe.

If you have the simple setup of the flange screwed into the tailpiece, you may be able to unscrew it with your hands and no special tools.

However, not everyone is so lucky, depending on their tub drain style. Sometimes you will require tools to remove the flange. You may already have the right tools hanging around in your garage that you can use to remove the flange if you’re lucky, such as one of the below.


If your drain fitting doesn’t have metal crossbars, you’ll need to remove it with a tub drain extractor designed to grip the inside walls of the fitting. If you have a drain that has crossbars, then a screwdriver might be just what you need to remove it. Slot the screwdriver through the crossbars and turn to unscrew the flange.

Sometimes it can be impossible for a screwdriver to reach the crossbars. If this happens to you, you must use a different method.


One tool that is specially designed for drain removal is a dumbbell. It resembles a key shape and fits neatly between crossbars if required.

You place it in position and turn it with a wrench or screwdriver.

Drain Key/Sturdy Drain Extractor

If none of the above works for your drain, the solution may be a drain key or a sturdy drain extractor. These contain wings or reverse-thread systems that cling onto the flange’s interior.

After the tool latches onto the flange, you can use something like a wrench to twist it.

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Removing the Flange – Step-By-Step

No matter why you’re removing the bathtub drain, you’ll need to detach the drain flange next. Replacing this part is not too difficult as it is pretty accessible. It is only if you need to remove the entire drain that it becomes more complex, working beneath the bathtub.

1. Cleaning

It would help if you first cleaned off any gunk, hair and soap scum that appeared on your drain’s opening. Then, take your sponge and clean the inside of the flange. After it is clean, it will be easier to see the drain opening and flange. You can also remove any hair stuck near the drain’s opening when you remove the flange.

2. Drain Key

Put your drain key into the opening of the drain in your bath. Get a wrench and clamp it to the nut located on the key. Turn your wrench anticlockwise until the wings touch the inside of the drain.

At this stage, it gets harder to move. If using a dumbbell, you’ll need to insert it through the drain. Now, use the tines with a crossbar or strainer. Then use a screwdriver through the dumbbell to function as a lever.

3. Unscrewing

Turning anticlockwise to whichever tool you use should unscrew the bathtub drain flange. This can be challenging due to grime, putty, and calcium build-up.

You may need to use additional force to unscrew the flange. Adding a steel pipe over the top of the screw handle or wrench can make it longer so you can unscrew it.

Top Tip: If it is not unscrewing, sometimes the heat can help. Heat can soften any putty and build-up that may prevent you from unscrewing the flange. A heat gun or hair dryer may work well for this.

4. Clean the Opening

If any putty is stuck around the drain opening, you can use a plumber’s putty knife to scrape it off. If you don’t have one, try using a flathead screwdriver. A household cleaning product should be used to help you wipe off any dirt or gunk.

Use a toothbrush to clean the threads of the tailpiece. If the drain is blocked with hair, as bath drains often are, you can use the zip-it to remove this.

Now, you can install your new flange.

If you’re time-poor and need a professional plumber and high-quality plumbing services, call Fixed Today or visit us in our Sydney office, we can do bathtub drain removal for you. We can also clean the drain, install a new drain and perform your other plumbing requirements.

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