How to Remove a Bathtub Drain and Install a New One

If you find that water cannot drain smoothly after removing the plug or stopper from the bathtub drain, it is likely due to a blockage caused by hair, soap scum, or other debris, or it may be due to damage to the drain itself. Whatever the reason, it indicates a malfunction in the bathtub drain that needs to be repaired. Fortunately, removing the bathtub drain is not too difficult and does not require special tools; ordinary everyday tools or even bare hands will suffice. Next, let's take a look at the specific steps involved!

Step 1: Understanding Bathtub Drain

Drain Structure

A bathtub drain is a vital plumbing fixture that facilitates the removal of water from the tub when it's emptied. It comprises several components, including:

  • Drain Filter: This is a strainer that captures debris, preventing it from entering the drainage system and causing clogs.
  • Drain Pipe: The drain pipe connects the bathtub's drainage system to the main plumbing of the house, allowing water to flow out efficiently.
  • Drain Stopper: This is a plug that can be opened or closed to control the flow of water.

One crucial factor to bear in mind when removing the bathtub drain is the type of drain stopper utilized in the tub. Different drain assemblies feature various stoppers, necessitating the ability to identify the specific type of drain employed in a bathtub before proceeding with removal. This proactive approach not only streamlines the process but also mitigates the risk of damaging the assembly, or worse, the tub itself.

Drain Stopper Type

  • Toe-Touch: Operated by pressing with the toe, this modern design offers convenience and ease of use.
  • Push-and-Pull: This stopper has a knob that can be pushed to close the drain and pulled to open it. It may also function as a button.
  • Lift-and-Turn: Equipped with a knob-shaped stopper, it can be lifted and turned to open or close the drain. Turning the knob clockwise lowers the stopper to close the drain, while counterclockwise rotation raises it to allow water to drain.
  • Flip-It: Operates by manipulating the stopper's lifting and lowering through an attached mechanism fixed at the drain opening, thereby regulating the inflow and outflow of water.
  • Pop-Up: Controlled by a lever or knob near the faucet, the lever is lifted to close the drain and pushed to retract the stopper, allowing water to drain.
  • Trip-Lever: Featuring a lever mechanism connected to the overflow plate on the bathtub wall, moving the lever up or down operates a linkage in the drain pipe to open or close the drain.

Step 2: Confirming the Need to Remove Bathtub Drain

There are several situations that may necessitate the removal of a bathtub drain:

  • Deep Cleaning and Maintenance: Over time, debris, hair, soap scum, and other substances can accumulate in the drain, leading to clogs that reduce drainage efficiency. Removing these accumulations is essential for restoring optimal drainage.
  • Repairing or Replacing Drain Components: If any part of the drain becomes damaged, corroded, or worn out, it will require replacement. Disassembling the drain is necessary to access and replace the affected components.
  • Installing a New Bathtub: When installing a new bathtub, removing the drain from the old tub may be necessary to make space for installing the new one.
  • Addressing Leaks or Water Damage: Water leaks around the drain assembly indicate potential issues that need to be addressed. Disassembling the drain allows for inspection and repair of any damaged or faulty components causing the leaks.
  • Upgrading or Modifying the Drain System: Sometimes, upgrading the drain system is necessary to improve performance, aesthetics, or functionality. This may involve removing the existing drain to install a newer or more efficient system.

Step 3: Preparation

Before beginning to dismantle the bathtub drain, it is essential to remove all accessories from the bathtub, such as toiletries, toys, and soap. This not only prevents these items from hindering the removal of the drain but also prevents small accessories from falling into the pipes and causing blockages. Additionally, since you may need to stand inside the bathtub during the procedure, check that the surface is dry and free of standing water to ensure your safety.

Next, gather the following tools:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Locking pliers
  • Standard pliers
  • Putty knife

Step 4: Open Up Bathtub Drain Stopper

This step varies depending on the type of stopper in your bathtub. Follow the instructions corresponding to take off your specific stopper type:


  1. Open the drain and ensure it stays open.
  2. Unscrew the shaft cylinder part of the drain. This is the portion that fits into the drain.
  3. If necessary, use a screwdriver to unscrew the stopper.


  1. Open the drain and keep it open.
  2. Lift the stopper knob and twist it counterclockwise to unscrew.


  1. Open the drain and keep it open.
  2. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the knob on top of the stopper.
  3. Check if there is a set screw underneath and unscrew it using a screwdriver or a hex key.
  4. Twist the stopper in a counterclockwise direction until it comes off the mounting post.
  5. Use pliers to remove the mounting post by pulling it up out of the drain assembly.


  1. Open the drain and keep it open.
  2. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the faceplate attached to the overflow drain.
  3. Once the faceplate is removed, carefully pull the hardware out of the overflow drain, being mindful not to damage anything.

Step 5:Remove Drain Filter

A drain filter plays a crucial role in preventing large debris from entering the drain while allowing water to flow freely. Typically composed of a plastic or metal frame with a crossbar or gate pattern covering the drain opening. Unlike other components of the drain assembly, the filter is designed to be easily removable. This feature allows for periodic maintenance to clear accumulated debris, which could otherwise lead to blockages.

To remove the filter, there are a couple of methods you can employ. One option is to use needle-nose locking pliers. Simply clamp the pliers onto the center of the crossbar and turn counterclockwise to loosen and remove it.

Alternatively, you can utilize a specialized drain wrench for this task. This tool minimizes the risk of damaging the filter, especially if it's made of delicate materials or part of an expensive fixture. Insert the wrench into the crossbars and turn counterclockwise to release the filter.

For filters lacking crossbars, a drain extractor tool proves effective. This tool grips onto the inner walls of the filter, allowing for effortless removal.

Step 6: Clean the Drain Outlet and Pipes

After removing the filter, it's essential to clean the drain outlet and pipes before proceeding with the next procedure, especially if you intend to replace the bathtub drain.

Drain outlets are typically sealed with plumbing putty. Use a putty knife to gently remove the putty from the outlet, taking care not to scratch the tub surface permanently. If the putty is stubborn, you can use warm water to loosen it. Be careful not to let any putty pieces fall into the drain, as they may cause clogging in the pipes and won't break down easily.

 The drainage pipes at the bottom of the bathtub are usually made of plastic. If you notice a buildup of hair inside the pipe, simply remove it manually with your hands. For clearing soap scum, pouring hot water down the drain to melt it should effectively remove it. However, if your bathtub's bottom drainage pipe is connected to an iron pipe, it's important to check for rust. If rust is present, you can use common household items such as baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar for cleaning.

Step 7: Install New Bathtub Drain

Now that the old drain has been removed and thoroughly cleaned, if you find it faulty or worn out and wish to replace it with a new one, start by identifying the corresponding model and purchasing a matching replacement. Then, follow the reverse steps outlined in Step 4 to install the new bathtub drain.

Once everything is prepared, fill the bathtub with water and check for any leaks. If leaks are detected, ensure all connections are properly tightened. If no leaks are found, this indicates successful installation!


Congratulations! You have now mastered all the skills required for removing and installing a bathtub drain. Isn't it straightforward? You can practically breeze through it effortlessly. However, it's crucial to emphasize that throughout the entire process, avoid using brute force. All components are assembled using threads, and exerting excessive force can lead to damage. If you encounter difficulty in removing the drain plug, it might be due to hair entanglement. Simply clean it out!

Lastly, Giving Tree Home is continuously preparing more content on bathtub maintenance to enhance your soaking experience. If you find these tips helpful, consider bookmarking or sharing our page!