What to Do When Bathtub Drain Stopper Stuck In Closed Position

Bathtub Drain Stopper Stuck In Closed Position

The drain stopper of your bathtub keeps the water in the tub without draining it. Thus, you can enjoy a soothing bath. However, at times, the bathtub drain stopper may get stuck inside. You will fail to move the stopper to drain the water when it happens.

Usually, a bathtub drain stopper stuck in the closed position is rare. Instead, it happens due to gunk and residual build-up around the stopper. As a result, the stopper gets stuck, and you will fail to move it to drain water.

To remove a stuck bathtub drain stopper, you must first clean the residues and gunk from its surrounding. Also, you should clean the drain so the stopper moves freely for quick removal and proper drainage.

How Bathtub Drain Stopper Works:

You must know the basics and working process of the stopper to unstuck and remove it. In addition, knowing what is underneath the stopper will help you fix the tub drain stopper stuck problem. The stopper usually has a turn or trip-lever mechanism to move the stopper for proper water flow and drainage.

There will be a push rod for the pop-up stoppers on the tub to control the overflow. The push rod connects with a rocker’s arm. It then connects with the stopper, and the push rod will pull or push the rocker’s arm. Following it, the stopper will control the water flow and draining of the tub.

A pop-up tub drain stopper will have a tip lever. It moves right or left to control the drain and overflow in the bathtub. Now that you know the basics of the different drain stoppers in the bathtub, it’s time to fix the stuck drain stopper.

So, let’s dive into it.

Fixing Tips for the Bathtub Drain Stopper Stuck In Closed Position

A stopper should move freely to control the overflow of the tub. However, when it gets stuck in the closed position and fails to move, the water won’t drain. Hence, your bathtub will have stagnant water and become primarily unusable.

Depending on the type of stopper your bathtub has, you need to apply different techniques to open and move it.

Plunger-style bathtub stopper:

The plunger-style drain stopper is standard these days. You can follow our below suggestions to unstuck it from the closed position.

Step 1:

First, cover the strainer with a clean rag. It helps you unscrew the stopper. Also, it will ensure that all the dropped screws and nuts remain safe on the cover instead of going into the drainer.

Step 2:

You need to unscrew the screws of the overflow plate to loosen it. As you loosen the overflow plate, hold it with your hand so it doesn’t come off entirely. It should allow you to swing the faceplate and remove it from the overflow pipe.

After removing the faceplate, you should tighten one screw. It will prevent the overflow plate from falling off the bathtub. Now, remove all the other screws.

Step 3:

Now, you should grab the overflow plate with your hands firmly. Then, apply pressure to pry it from the bathtub drain. It allows you to pull the plunger-style tub drain stopper as well.

After that, look at the center of the bathtub strainer. There will be a screw that you must move. It will help you in lifting the strainer from the tub drain body.

Step 4:

As you access the drain body, insert a drain key into it. This tool is also known as drain body remover. You have to move the key counterclockwise with the adjustable wrench. Finally, you can pry off the drain body and clean around it to move the stuck stopper.

Removing tips for toe-touch drain stopper:

Removing the toe-touch drain stopper in the bathtub is straightforward. You may follow these steps for it.

  • In most cases, it will be challenging for you to move the bathtub drain stopper stuck. Thus, you can hold it with the pliers and try moving it to an open position.
  • As the stopper comes in the open position, move the screw counterclockwise. It will disconnect the stopper from the drain body.
  • Check the drain cap if you still have difficulty unscrewing the stuck tub drain stopper. In most cases, when the stopper gets stuck, only the drain cap will come out of the drain body. In this case, try unscrewing the stem with pliers.
  • Plus, apply a few drops of penetrating or rust-removal lubricant on the stopper threads. After applying for a few minutes, try moving the stem to pry off the stopper.
  • You should remove the drain body with an adjustable wrench and drain body remover. Now, you can clean the residue, debris, and rust, forcing the stopper to get stuck.

You may quickly turn the stuck tub drain stopper from closed to open. Then, you may pry it off to clean inside the drain.

Tips on removing the pop-up bathtub drain stopper:

The pop-up drain stopper may have a trip-over or turn-style mechanism. Its rocker arm will connect the push rod and the stopper so that it cooperates with the tub’s water flow. The push rod will pop-up or down following the overflow of the tub.

As a result, the pop-up drain stopper will move to drain the water from the bathtub. To remove the stuck and closed-position tub drain stopper, follow these steps.

  • Check for any debris or rust around the pop-up drain stopper. Use penetrating oil and rust to remove the rust and residue. Once it softens, you can clean off the debris from the stopper’s top.
  • As the residue removes from the stopper, you should observe its mechanism and design. You will either need to rotate the overflow plate left or right or lift the overflow level. You should look at the faceplate to see which direction to turn it.
  • When you can turn or lift the lever properly in the right direction, you should find it in the correct position for prying off the stopper.
  • As you plan to pull the stopper from the bathtub, place a rag underneath the tub. If any residue and dirt are coming from the tub and drain stopper, the rag will collect it. Thus, it will keep the bottom of the tub and floor free of the residue saving you from extra work.
  • After that, try wiggling the stopper connected to the drain body. If it still feels stuck, you should check for any debris around it. Pouring boiling water will help you remove the residues from it.
  • Sometimes, the stuck drain stopper will have a brass arm. It connects with the bottom of the stopper. As a result, the brass arm stops you from pulling the stopper. For this brass arm, you must pull the tub stopper horizontally. It helps you unmount the stopper.

This way, you may quickly release the bathtub drain stuck closed with the drain body. However, you must be careful while removing the tub drain stopper from the stuck and closed position. Otherwise, you may damage the expensive porcelain or acrylic bathtub.

How to remove a stuck push-pull and lift-turn tub drain stopper:

The bathtub drainer with lift-turn and push-pull stopper shares a similar mechanism. Thus, the removal process of the drain stopper of the tub is identical too.

On the stopper’s top, there will be a knob. Wrap it with a rag and grab it with the pliers after that. Now, you have to turn it in a counterclockwise direction. It will expose the brass shaft. Sometimes the knob won’t turn because it has got stuck. Usually, rust and residue will stop the knob from moving. So, you must apply firm pressure with the pliers to move it and free the stuck stopper.

You will need a hex key or flathead screwdriver to loosen and unscrew the knob. To pull the stem away, move the brass shaft and loosen it. Once you have removed the shaft, you may pry off the tub stopper by sliding the screwdriver.

How to Clean a Stuck Bathtub Drain Stopper in a Closed Position

Mainly, residue build-up inside the drain and around the stopper will stick it. Thus, the stopper can’t move freely. However, there’re ways to eliminate the rust and debris that force the stopper to get stuck and unable to move.

When the bathtub drain stopper gets stuck, you can apply baking soda and vinegar to remove the debris. Alternatively, you can try adding baking soda and salt to the boiling water. It will soften the residue and unstuck the stopper. Also, pouring in a few drops of the penetrating lubricant on the stopper will help you unstuck and remove it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why won’t my bathtub drain open?

A U-shaped plate will be at the end of the tub drain. It connects with the handle due to the weight on the drain linkage. When it happens, the drain won’t open.

  • How do you get a bathtub stopper unstuck?

You can drop penetrating lubricant such as WD-40 on the stopper and around it. Then, wait a few minutes as the debris softens, and the stopper gets unstuck again for quick removal.


It is an awful experience to see the bathtub drain stopper stuck in the closed position. You must pour boiling water and baking soda with salt to remove and unstuck the tub stopper. Once the residue softens, you can clean it.

After that, unscrewing the bathtub drain stopper stuck into an open position will become a straightforward task. But first, you need to identify the type of stopper and follow our tips for the drain stopper accordingly.

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