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How To Replace A Bathtub Drain

#1 24-Hour & Emergency Plumbing in Clawson, Michigan

If you notice your bathtub drain is not working as it should, then you may need to consider a replacement. Perhaps it is draining at a much slower rate than it should or causing leaks. A replacement can help to improve the efficiency of your bathtub drain, but the process can take some time. In this post, we are going to take a closer look at how you can replace your bathtub drain as a DIY job. We also consider the tools you need and provide an overview of when it is better to call a professional.

When Should You Replace A Bathtub Drain?

There are numerous scenarios where a replacement for your bathtub drain is a good idea. Over time, the drain can become less efficient and even prone to regular clogs. These clogs often happen when hair and other debris accumulate in the drain, making it harder for water to move through the drainage system. Corrosion and other factors can also affect your bathtub drain in the long run. Even with regular cleaning, there are times when a drain replacement is your best choice. This is especially the case when you find that the bathtub leaks in the area where the drain is situated.

When you have a leak and do not address the issue, it can lead to several problems. This includes structural damage to the area surrounding your bathtub. There are several reasons why the drain may start to cause a leak, but the most common is a degrading sealing gasket. If you find a pool of water underneath your bathtub after taking a bath or a shower, then this might be a sign that you need to replace the drain.

DIY Steps For Replacing Your Bathtub Drain

Since there are different types of bathtub drains, the instructions to replace them may not be exactly the same in every scenario. We are going to take a look at general instructions that you should be able to use with most types of bathtub drains.

First, it is important to ensure you collect all of the tools and hardware that you will require during the replacement process:

  • A replacement drainage system that will fit your bathtub.
  • A screwdriver
  • A drain wrench
  • A plastic knife
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Plumber’s putty

Removing The Old Bathtub Drain

You first need to remove the drain that is currently fitted in your bathtub. This is a good time to consider whether you only want to replace the drain. Sometimes, you may want to replace the trip lever too.

Here are the steps you need to follow to remove the old drain:

  1. If your drain comes with a foot plug, then grab ahold of the center part and turn it in a counterclockwise direction. As you turn this piece, the plug should come loose and unscrew from the drain. You may also need to remove the stopper from the drain if you have a lift-and-turn option.
  2. You’ll now see a screw at the center of the drain. Use your screwdriver to loosen the screw and remove the top part.
  3. The next step is to remove the drain basket, but after several years, you may find that it is quite difficult to move. Using a heat source, such as a hairdryer, can be useful in this particular case. This can help to warm the plumber’s putty that was used to install the drain initially. This should make the removal easier.
  4. You now need to use a drain wrench. These wrenches usually come with multiple heads, so you may have to experiment a bit to find the right fit for your particular drain.
  5. Once you have the wrench fitted in the drain, place a screwdriver into the hole that runs through the body of the wrench. Now, use the screwdriver to help you turn the wrench in a counterclockwise rotation.

At this time, you will notice some putty and debris left where the old seal was located. You will need to clean this up first. Use a plastic knife to lift off the putty. Combine some vinegar and baking soda to create a cleansing solution to help you get rid of the debris.

If you have a trip lever, then use a screwdriver to loosen it. This particular lever is usually located close to the faucet that connects to your bathtub.

Installing The New Bathtub Drain

Now, it is time to install the new drain in your bathtub. Use some plumber’s putty to create a seal underneath the lip of the drain. You should roll the putty in your hands to make a string-like structure that is around six inches in length.

You now need to screw the new drain basket into the opening in your bathtub. Turn it clockwise until it is properly fitted. You can use your drain wrench to help with this particular step. Fit the lip on top of the basket and scrape off any excess putty. As you press down on the lip, you may find that some putty squeezes out on the sides. Use your plastic knife to scrape it off.

If your drain comes with a stopper, you can now add it. Turn it clockwise to fasten the stopper on the drain. In cases where you are also replacing the lever, you will need to refer to the manual in order to determine the steps required to replace it. In most cases, you’ll place it through the lever hole and connect it to the drain on the outside of the bathtub.


Replacing a bathtub drain is often a straightforward process when you know what to do. Start by collecting all the tools you will need and ensuring you buy the correct replacement. Follow the steps we’ve shared in this post, but also understand that there are times where a professional may be needed. If you find it difficult to remove the drain without using too much force, then a professional can investigate the issue and provide an effective replacement for your bathtub’s drainage system. If you need plumbers in Detroit, contact WaterWork Plumbing for professional, friendly, and fast service.

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