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How to Remove a Bathtub Drain
So after weeks of sprucing things up, you may think that you are finished, but you forgot there is one last detail that also needed to be changed: the bathtub drain. Just as the rest of the bathroom fixtures, the bathtub drain needs uplifting. Here, we provided four easy steps to removing the bathtub drain before replacing it.
1. Remove Your Tub Drain With Pliers or a Plug Wrench
The drain is the assembly below the screen and it is attached to the tub itself. Below that is the drain pipe that leads to the sewer system. The drain screws out by rotating it counter-clockwise.
But this isn’t as simple as reaching in and turning out the drain assembly. Over-tightening, rust, and gunk all contribute to holding the drain assembly firmly in place. The biggest culprit? Plumber’s putty. This thick, clay-like substance has likely hardened around the threads of the drain assembly. You need a set of tools that will reach into the drain and firmly grab the assembly so that you can turn it out.
Tools & Materials You Will Need
Dumbell wrench or a 4-way wrench: Dumbell wrench and 4 way wrench are both tools that grab the drain assembly and help you turn it out for removal. These tools will save you much frustration.
Regular and needle-nose locking pliers: If you do not use either one of these wrenches, use both a set of needle-nose locking pliers and a set of regular pliers.
Silicone-based Caulking: Silicone Based Caulking is necessary to replace the drain assembly and prevent water from leaking., and it won’t affect the finish on the drain flange.
Old towels: It helps to spread out towels on the tub surface in case you accidentally drop a tool.
2. Remove the Tub Stopper and the Screen
The stopper and the screen first need to be removed before you can remove the tub drain.
Stopper: Most bathtubs have a stopper to retain the water and let the person take a bath. The stopper can be a rubber plug, or it might be a metal piece that is part of the drain assembly. To remove the metal piece, unscrew it by turning it counter-clockwise until it releases from the drain assembly. Set the stopper aside.
Screen: The screen is the upper metal disc with holes in it. The screen is there to prevent large objects from going down the drain. Use a fingernail or a flat head screwdriver to get under the edge of it and lift it straight up. Set it aside.
3. Using the Drain Wrenches
Insert either one of the wrenches, they will fit into the cross at the bottom of the drain, if you are using the Dumbell wrench, you can insert a screwdriver into one of the holes on the side, which will make it easier to turn, you may also use a pipe wrench to give you more leverage.
4. Clamp the Drain With the Locking Pliers
The cross at the bottom of the bathtub drain will be the part that you grab to make it turn. In this method, we are going to use pliers.
The pliers need to be small enough to reach into the drain and through the cross. Push down as far as possible. Then, clamp the pliers onto the cross. Make sure that the locking pliers are clamped onto the center hub of the cross rather than onto one arm of the cross. If you are clamped onto one section only, there is a good chance that you will break the drain assembly.
5. Use the Other Pliers to Turn the Locking Pliers
With the locking pliers firmly in place, clamp your second set of pliers onto the locking pliers. Clamp the pliers as low as possible on the locking pliers so that they do not interfere with the locking action of the locking pliers.
Turn counter-clockwise. Go slowly. Warmer temperatures help loosen the Plumber’s putty. You might need to use a hair drier for a few minutes.
After a rotation or two, the tub drain should be loose enough so that you can unclamp the second set of pliers and turn by hand with the first set of pliers. Bathtub drains have a long, deep thread, so it will take many turns to remove the drain completely.
Set the drain assembly aside. The Plumber’s putty will remain on the drain and on the tub.
When re-installing the drain, first remove the old plumber’s putty by rubbing with a towel and gently scraping with a screwdriver. Before re-installing, use fresh plumber’s putty. If you do not use new putty, you increase the chances of the bathtub drain leaking to areas below.