01 of 06
How to Remove Tub Drain
When changing out your present bathtub, augering the drain, performing minor repairs, or even something as basic as running a plastic Zip-It to remove hair, you need to remove the tub drain.
But this is not so easy, because the drain assembly was designed to stay firmly in place. Start with five FAQs that are not obvious just from looking at the drain:
- Does It Lift Out or Turn Out? It unscrews out counter-clockwise.
- Will It Be Hard To Turn Out? Yes. Initial tightening, rust, gunk, but most... especially, plumber's putty, all act together to hold the drain assembly firmly in place.
- So What Is Plumber's Putty? It is a clay-like substance that plumbers use as a kind of hand-moldable caulk to make sure that plumbing parts remain waterproof. You will also be using plumber's putty.
- Can I Ruin My Tub Surface? Possibly. Use a towel so that you do not drop a tool or the heavy drain assembly on the tub surface.
- Are Special Tools Required? Highly recommended but not required. See next step for this.
Tools and Materials
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- Special Tool (Recommended): A plug wrench is one of those ultra-cheap tools that you can use for only one thing--removing a drain. If you have a few extra minutes to run down to your nearest hardware store and get a plug wrench, you will save much frustration. It is a dead-simple tool that will make your job much easier. (Buy From Amazon - Superior Tool Plug Wrench)
- Ordinary Tools (Alternative): Needle-nose Vise-Grip tool and regular pliers.
- Plumber's Putty: Absolutely necessary in order to turn the drain assembly back in place. Bathtub caulk is not a substitute. (Buy From Amazon - Oatley Hercules Plumber's Putty)
02 of 06
The Bathtub Drain Assembly "X"
Your bathtub drain will have an "X" at the bottom. This "X" will be the part that you grab onto to make it turn.
There are countless ways to grab this "X" and turn a drain. When looking for improvised tools, keep in mind:
- The space within the drain is small, so you need to select tools accordingly.
- The drain will be very hard to turn, due to the plumber's putty and years of accumulated gunk.
- If you turn too hard, you can accidentally snap off pieces of that "X", creating an even bigger problem.
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03 of 06
Clamp Vise-Grip Onto the "X"
The best substitute for a plug wrench is a needle-nose Vise-Grip. Failing that, needle-nose pliers or any other pliers small enough to reach into the drain will work as a substitute.
Push the Vise-Grip down as far as possible.
Clamp it onto the "X." Make sure that the Vise-Grip is clamped onto the center hub of the "X" rather than onto one section of the "X." If you are clamped onto one section only, there is a good chance that you will break the drain assembly.
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04 of 06
Hold Vise Grip With Another Wrench
With the Vise-Grip firmly in place, clamp your second set of pliers onto the Vise-Grip. In this photo, Klein lineman's pliers are being used.
Clamp the pliers as low as possible on the Vise-Grip so that it does not interfere with the locking action of the vise grip.
Tip: What If It Is Hard To Turn?
Be patient and go slowly. Warmer temperatures help loosen plumber's putty. If this is an especially cold tub, blow warm air from a hair drier over it for a few minutes.
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05 of 06
Switch to Manual Grip Again
After a rotation or two, the tub drain should be loose enough so that you can unclamp the pliers and turn it off by hand.
Tub drains have a long, deep thread, so it will take many turns to remove drain completely.
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06 of 06
This Is the Tub Drain Removed from Tub
Finished. The drain is shown. Plumber's putty will remain on the drain and on the tub.
When re-installing the drain, remove the old plumber's putty by rubbing with a towel and scraping with a screwdriver.
Before re-installing, use fresh plumber's putty. If you do not use new putty, the bathtub will probably leak.