How to Install a Pop-Up Drain Stopper in a Bathroom Sink

Clean modern Bathroom Sink
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Overview
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $25 to $50

A bathroom sink pop-up stopper is a very convenient feature, and while the installation is usually easy, occasionally the process is complicated due to variations in the fixture or fittings. If you need to install a new pop-up drain for any reason, these instructions will simplify the process.

NOTE: In this example, the parts are being installed while the sink is removed from the vanity. In practice you may be installing the pop-up drain on a sink that is already in place.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Channel-type pliers

Materials

  • Pop-up drain assembly
  • Pipe joint compound
  • Plumber's putty

Instructions

  1. Remove the Old Drain Assembly

    Loosen and remove the P-trap from the branch drain and sink drain tailpiece, using channel-type pliers. Next, remove the old pop-up assembly, if there is one. Use channel-type pliers or a basin wrench to remove the mounting nut from the tailpiece on the old drain assembly, then lift the assembly clear of the sink. Clean the sink thoroughly of debris and old plumber's putty. 

  2. Prepare the New Pop-Up Drain Stopper

    Disassemble the pieces of the new pop-up assembly, and unscrew and remove the mounting nut from the drain tailpiece. Install the plastic washer then the rubber washer and push them all the way down on top of the mounting nut, as shown here.

    Preparing a pop-up drain for installation
    Aaron Stickley
  3. Apply Pipe Joint Compound

    Apply a thin layer of pipe joint compound to the top side of the rubber washer that will fit against the sink. Using joint compound on the rubber will ensure that it seals against the bottom of the sink drain opening. While pipe joint compound is not strictly necessary, without it you might have trouble getting the rubber to seal.

    Pipe joint compound on pop-up drain
    Aaron Stickley
  4. Apply Plumber's Putty

    Apply a generous bead of plumber's putty to the underside of the flange on the sink drain ring. The putty will help the upper part of the drain assembly seal against the sink drain opening.

    If you do not have plumber's putty or cannot use it on your type of sink, then you can use silicone caulk. Some pop-up assemblies come with a foam or rubber gasket to use in place of plumber's putty or caulk.

    Scoop out a ball of plumber's putty and roll it in your hand to form a long rope, then lay the rope around the edge of the drain ring.

    Plumbers putty on drain ring
    Aaron Stickley
  5. Connect the Drain Parts

    Push the pop-up drain tailpiece assembly up through the drain opening from under the sink as high as you can. While holding the drain piece in place, fit the drain ring into the opening from the top of the sink, and thread the ring onto the drain tailpiece as far as you can by hand. Make sure the pieces are threaded correctly and are not cross-threaded. For now, it only needs to be hand-tightened enough to hold it in place. 

    Connecting pop-up drain parts
    Aaron Stickley
  6. Tighten the Drain Assembly

    From under the sink, hold the drain tailpiece with one hand and tighten the mounting nut upwards toward the bottom of the sink. Make sure the opening in the tailpiece where the pop-up pivot lever will fit is pointing straight back toward the wall. 

    Tighten the mounting nut with channel-type pliers while continuing to hold the tailpiece in place. Do not over-tighten this nut, but make sure it is secure enough so that the drain assembly does not spin in the drain opening. 

    Scrape up the oozed out plumber's putty from around the drain opening, and put it back into the container. As long as it's clean, it's perfectly good to reuse.

    Tighten pop-up drain nut
    Aaron Stickley
  7. Put the Drain Stopper Into Place

    Push the pop-up stopper down into the drain opening inside the sink, making sure the hole in the linkage is facing toward the back of the sink. Insert the pivot rod into the opening in the side of the tailpiece from under the sink. Usually, there is a plastic washer on each side of the plastic ball. You should be able to feel the tip of the pivot rod slide through the opening in the stopper linkage inside the drain assembly. 

    Screw the pivot rod nut onto the threaded fitting on the side of the tailpiece, so the ball is secured to the tailpiece. Push the pivot rod up and down to make sure the stopper goes up and down freely in the drain. If the pop-up is working properly, you can tighten the nut hand-tight. If the pop-up is not working, reposition the stopper and pivot rod so the pieces connect properly. 

  8. Install the Pop-Up Lever

    Feed the vertical pop-up lever down through the hole behind the spout of the faucet. Before connecting the horizontal pivot rod to the vertical lever, make sure your stopper is in the fully up (open) position. 

    From below the sink, attach the connecting strap to the end of the vertical pop-up lever. Tighten the screw on the connecting strap to secure it to the pivot rod.

    Connect strap to pop-up lever
    Aaron Stickley
  9. Connect the Pop-Up Lever and Pivot Rod

    Connect the vertical strap to the horizontal pivot rod by threading the spring clip onto the rod; one end of the clip attaches on each side of the strap. Check to make sure that the pop-up stopper opens and closes fully inside the drain opening. If it doesn’t, you can make some adjustments to the rod connections by pinching and moving the spring clip. 

    Finish the job by reconnecting the P-trap to the drain pipe and drain tailpiece. Check for leaks by closing the stopper, filling up the sink, then opening the stopper and letting the water drain out while you look for leaks from below.

    Pop-up rod and lever connection
    Aaron Stickley