bathtub drain stopper leaking
Kristina Davis

Is your bathtub drain stopper leaking and it’s just being such a nuisance to your experience?

Don’t worry, I’ll help you get through it.

I remember the first time I experienced this same exact problem, and it haunted me for the longest time.

After that, I told myself I would never experience that again.

Your bathtub drain stopper is leaking due to incorrect drain stopper size, deteriorated stopper, or the stopper does not close fully.

To fix the bathroom leaking drain stopper, pull the stopper and check if it still has a stopper, and then double-check the linkage. Replace the stopper if necessary.

Reasons Why Your Bathtub Drain Stopper Isn’t Holding Water

reasons why bathtub stopper

Before we learn how to fix a leaking bathtub drain stopper, it’s imperative that you know the reasons why your bathtub drain stopper isn’t working – and no, it’s not just because of a clog or blockage.

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Let me walk you through the most common reasons why your bathtub drain stoppers are not doing their jobs properly and effectively.

Reason #1: Incorrect Drain Stopper Size

One of the most common root causes of this leakage is installing a drain stopper that does not perfectly fit the drain.

incorrect size

The leakage could be coming from the edge of the drain or the stopper (even a 2mm space is enough to drain the water).

You need to make sure that both the drain and stopper fit exactly into the bored holes.

NOTE: Hole size usually adjusts according to the previous stopper installed. Make sure to check up on this often (every 3 to 4 months would do).

Reason #2: Deteriorated Stopper

Another reason would be because your stopper has deteriorated – it may be old, or it may not be as sturdy as high-quality drain stoppers.

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Because of its age, the plug or spring that connects it to the linkage might be disconnected, so the lever trips, resulting in the water draining instead of holding.

Reason #3: Entanglement in the Linkage

entanglement linkage

The next thing you want to look at would be the linkage.

In case you didn’t know what linkage is, it is part of the entire system that connects several components of an assembly together.

In the case of a drain stopper, it’s the link between the control unit and the plunger that closes and opens.

NOTE: Entanglement can happen due to constant movement. Not to mention that dirt, dust, hair, and even soap can be stuck on the entanglement.

Reason #4: Stopper Doesn’t Fully Close

Last, but most definitely not least is because the stopper is not closing fully.

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This can be due to many reasons, the most common of which is because of the buildup of content around the pivot or base of the drain stopper.

Bathtub Drain Stopper Leaking? Here’s How You Can Fix It

drain stopper leaking

So, if it’s already a bummer, here is a guide on how to fix leaking bathtub drain stopper.

I’ll be discussing it in a way that everybody will be able to understand it perfectly and accurately, regardless of whether you have experience in plumbing or not.

NOTE: This guide will be for all types of bathtub drain stoppers. So, if you find some that don’t fit with the type of drain stopper you have, disregard that step.

Step #1: Remove the Overflow Plate

The first thing you want to do is to remove the plate from the overflow drain opening.

I often call this the control unit of the drain stopper because this is what you push and pull to activate the stopper.

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remove plate

These components are usually held by screws.

What you want to do is unscrew and loosen these screws up to a setting where you can just pull the cover plate out easily.

TIP: Keep all screws, nuts, and bolts in an area where you’ll be able to see and track them regularly. 

I usually put them inside a small bag that I carry whenever I do projects like these.

Step #2: Pull Out the Stopper Assembly

Then, what you want to do next is pull out the assembly completely.

This is where many people find challenges because the assembly is something you won’t see, but you have to pull.

One tip I can give you in pulling this out is to carefully pull it until you see the linkage. Then, grab a hold of the linkage and then slowly and carefully pull it.

You need to be able to pull up to the plunger; you want to see the entire mechanism outside of the plate.

NOTE: The entire mechanism needs to be pulled out from the outflow cover plate down to the plunger. You want to see the plunger literally out of the bathtub drain.

Step #3: Grease the Plunger Mechanism 

grease plunger mechanism

When done, take the plunger and grease it. Greasing it helps in maintaining smoothness whenever you push or pull the drain stopper.

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One of the most common issues revolving around it is the fact that the plunger is not moving up or down seamlessly.

So, you want to make sure that it goes through a seamless motion, and you can do that by greasing it or applying oil to its entire body.

Step #4: Check For Hair and Other Obstructions

check for obstructions

Then, since you already have everything out, check the linkage for any type of obstruction.

Common ones would be hair, soap, plastic, body discharges, etc. You want to take all these out.

They can be stuck and attached to the linkage, the plunger, or even the edges of the drain (for some types of stoppers).

So, you want to get rid of all these obstructions to ensure a clean, clear, and smooth function for your bathtub drain stopper.

NOTE: Check how the linkage reacts when you activate and deactivate the stopper before you put it back into the drain.

Step #5: Check the Seal and Reseal if Necessary

seal and reseal

This step is for the type of stoppers that don’t actually have an overflowing plate; hence, these are for stoppers that perform the holding via the drain.

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What you want to do is take the stopper out, together with the drain.

Clean the fittings of the drain, as well as the stopper, and make sure that there isn’t a buildup of soot, moss, dirt, and even hair.

If you see little-to-no Teflon tape on the fittings, reapply Teflon tape to cover the fitting, so that they hold up to the drain properly.

NOTE: This step is for Pop-Up, Toe-Touch, Push-and-Pull, and other similar stopper types.

Checking Rubber Components

Several types of drain stoppers usually have rubber components that act as fitting.

You also want to check these because the rubber component of your stopper could actually be what’s causing the issue.

If you find the rubber components damaged, sliced, or even chipped off, get a replacement for them right away.

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Step #6: Reassemble the Entire Mechanism

reassemble mechanism

Once those are all done, the last and final step is to reassemble the entire bathtub drain system again, and then test if there’s still leakage.

If you find reassembly a problem, one technique I do is to record the disassembly process using my smartphone.

Then, if I ever forget a step or if I do a step that I might have missed, I’ll rewatch the video and take it from there.

This way, I never forget a step or a component even if I am doing a troubleshooting process for the first time.

And that is how simple and easy it is – that is how you solve the leakage of your bathtub drain stopper!

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It’s Still Leaking? Contact Your Plumber Right Away

contact your plumber

If you’re still experiencing leakages within your bathtub’s area of scope, the next best thing you can do is contact your local plumber.

Ask about the situation, and make sure that you inform your plumber of the steps you have taken so they know the further steps they’ll do in resolving this matter.

Bottom Line

The problem of your bathtub drain stopper leaking is something you might think you need an expert to resolve.

But after learning how you can solve it with your own hands, you will realize that you don’t have to contact your local plumber right away for it.

When the going gets tough and you think you need help and assistance, you can go back to this guide for a comprehensive solution to the leakage problem of your bathtub drain stopper.