Repair & Renovation

How to Fix a Pop-Up Drain Stopper: Step-by-Step Guide

If your sink is not draining water, it’s because of one of two reasons: Your sink’s pop-up drain stopper is damaged, or the pivot rod is rusted or broken.

If that is so, your first instinct must be to call a plumber. But let’s not be rash about it! Fixing or cleaning a sink’s pop-up mechanism is quite easy. Why would you spend money on a plumber fee when you can do it yourself?

Let’s understand the mechanism a bit first.

How Does a Pop-Up Drain Stopper Work?

When you lift the rod on the back of your sink, the drain stopper closes, and the sink fills with water. And when you push down the rod, the stopper opens up, and the water-filled sink drains. If this mechanism is not working well, it’s because there is a problem with the drain stopper or the pivot rod.

A pivot rod is connected to the drain stopper beneath the sink. Before removing the pivot rod, a few parts need to be dismantled first. These include the clevisspring clipretaining nut, and gasket. A pivot rod is attached through a retaining nut and gasket to the sink. The clevis is a many-holed vertical strap attached to the horizontal pivot rod with a small spring clip to keep it firmly in place.

Follow these simple steps for dismantling and reassembling the pop-up stopper mechanics correctly.

Dismantling the Pop-Up Stopper System

Step 1: Preparatory Measures

Before you start with the actual process, you need to consider some precautions. For instance:

  • Buy a new pivot rod and drain stopper before you get to work. You may need new ones in case they are rusted or defective.  
  • Have a clean cloth and detergent to hand, as the parts we disassemble may need cleaning as well.
  • The water to your sink must be turned off if you don’t want to get drenched during the process.
  • If there is already some water in the basin, putting a bucket underneath the sink might be a good way to stop it from flooding beneath your sink.

Step 2: Detach the Spring Clip 

Now the real work starts. Read the following instructions carefully, and you will be able to dismantle the pivot rod quite easily.

When you bend behind the sink, you will see a horizontal rod that faces the wall. This is the pivot rod that you need to remove. Attached to this rod will be a vertical strap with several holes. This is the clevis strap.

Observe the area where the clevis strap is bound to the horizontal pivot rod. You will see that a spring clip is securing the clevis strap, binding it to the pivot rod. Put some pressure onto that clip to break its grip on the clevis strap. Then slowly take off the spring clip.

Step 3: Detach the Clevis Strap

The clevis strap has many holes in it. And to one of its holes is attached the horizontal pivot rod. Observe and mark the hole the pivot rod is inserted in. Now, take off the clevis strap by gently sliding it out of the hole. Then leave the clevis strap hanging from the upper body from where it is attached.

Step 4: Unfasten the Retaining Nut and Gasket

The pivot rod is now only attached to the tailpiece with a retaining nut and gasket. Unscrew the nut from the base and slide it out. Then, pull and slide the gasket ring out of the pivot rod as well.

Step 5: Detach the Pivot Rod

After detaching the retaining nut and gasket, a tiny, compact white ball on the pivot rod will present itself. This ball seals the tailpiece under the sink and stops the water from dripping down. Dismantle the pivot rod and ball from the inner tailpiece.

The inner part of the pivot rod attached to the tailpiece is the root of the problem in most cases. You may see that the inner pivot rod may be broken or rusted off, making it impossible for the pop-up mechanism to work properly.

Step 6: Clean or Change the Pivot Rod 

If you see that the pivot rod is fine, just clean it thoroughly with water and detergent. This indicates that the problem is with the drain stopper itself. But if the pivot rod is defected or rusted, then you need to change it with a new one. Make sure the new pivot rod is of the same length, and you select the same ball size, or you may encounter a problem fitting it back.

Now, attach the right sized ball with the pivot rod and set it aside for now.

Step 7: Clean or Change the Drain Stopper

You can now simply unscrew the drain stopper from the basin. If it needs cleaning, give it a good wash in another sink. However, if you are installing a new one, make sure you get the same size drain stopper.

Reassembling the Pop-Up Stopper System

Here’s how to reassemble your pop-up stopper assembly again.

Step 1: Restore the Drain Stopper

When you replace the drain stopper, screw it in the same way it was before. Just make sure the hole in the lower part of the stopper is facing towards you. It will help the pivot rod fit in the hole easily when you insert it back.

Step 2: Restore and Test the Pivot Rod

Take the cleaned or new pivot rod with the ball attached, and insert it back inside the tailpiece where it was before. When you move the pivot in an up-down motion after inserting it, the drain stopper should also move along with it. If that is not the case, it means you need to readjust the drain stopper till the rod goes into the stopper hole, and it moves accordingly.

Step 3: Restore the Gasket and Retaining Nut

Restore the gasket into place, and then screw in the retaining nut tightly, so it doesn’t leak.

Step 4: Restore the Clevis Strap

Reattach the clevis strap to the pivot rod through the same hole you marked when you slid it out. Changing the hole will give you different results than before for the top rod by the sink, making it a bit shorter or longer.

Step 5: Squeeze Back the Spring Clip

Squeeze the spring clip back into place, joining the pivot rod with the clevis strap tightly.

And voila! You have successfully repaired your pop-up sink without any extra expenses.


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