Removing a Tub Drain in 7 Easy Steps

Bathtub Drain

Why You Might Need to Take Off Your Bathtub Drain

No one likes dealing with a smelly drain, especially when you step into the shower and detect a nasty smell wafting up from below. Unfortunately, because of the nature of bath and shower drains, it’s impossible for them not to fill with some amount of hair and soap scum over time. While you should use a stopper to prevent clogs, you may still occasionally have to take manual action to get that backed up hair out. If you have already tried plunging, using a drain snake, or dissolving the clog with baking soda and vinegar, there is one last thing you can do to solve this problem: take the drain out altogether. Read on to learn our process for removing a tub drain in seven steps, and make sure to call our expert plumbers for all your other drain cleaning and repair needs.

How to Remove a Shower or Tub Drain in 7 Steps

  1. Assemble Your Tools: To take out your tub drain, you will need a specific set of tools. Some of these are items you already probably have lying around the house, while one you may have to purchase for the first time. All told, the job requires one regular wrench or pair of pliers, one flat-head screwdriver, some rubber gloves, and a plug wrench. A plug wrench is a small wrench manufactured with cast iron or steel that is specifically minted to fit the crossbars of two or more drain sizes. A plug wrench is a very useful tool if you ever need to remove a drain and can be easily purchased at your local hardware store or online.
  2. Remove Your Stopper/Screen: Before you can remove your tub drain, first you will need to take off your stopper or screen. If the tub has a screen, you should be able to take it out manually or with a flathead screwdriver. If your tub has a stopper, it is probably either the kind that unscrews or the kind that uses a metal rocker arm, in which case you will need to pull the entire arm linkage from the drain opening (this may take some finessing.) You will want to put on your gloves before beginning this part, as things can get pretty messy here.
  3. Insert Plug Wrench Into the Drain & Begin Unscrewing: Your plug wrench should be inserted into the drain fitting and adjusted to fit into the crossbars (this is the little metallic part in the shape of an X you should see when you look into your drain opening.) After this is done, twist your plug wrench counterclockwise with either your wrench or pliers to loosen your drain from its threading. If you are completely unable to find a plug wrench, you may be able to use locking needle-nose pliers to reach the crossbars instead. Once the drain is loose enough, you should be able to pull it out by hand.
  4. Scrape the Hair Out of the Drain Opening: After you have removed your drain, use your flathead screwdriver to scrape as much hair as you can out of the drain opening.
  5. Clean Your Drain Thoroughly: After you have removed your entire drain, wash it in a sink or bucket with soap and water, making sure to get all the hair and other sedimentary buildup that’s trapped there out before you put it back in. If you notice that your drain is worn down or leaky in any way, you should go to a local hardware store or call a plumber to replace it.
  6. Screw the Drain Back In: After you have cleaned your drain thoroughly, you should be able to screw it back in using your plug wrench. Just repeat steps two and three above, but basically doing everything in reverse.
  7. Test Your Drain: After you have cleaned your drain out, you should test to ensure that water is now able to flow through it properly. Ideally, if you have done a good job cleaning out the hair, soap scum, and any other debris, water should be able to move through your tub drain again unobstructed, completely free of clogs. If you do continue to experience problems with your drains, or the above steps simply seem too complicated to you, make sure to call our professional plumbers at Carter Quality Plumbing. Our team is equipped with the advanced tools to take care of drain problems, and even offers same-day appointments and 24/7 service for emergencies.

Call Carter Quality Plumbing anytime at (803) 998-2270, or click here to send us a message online.