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Pop Up Bath Plug Won’t Stay Down? How to Inspect and Repair

When you are relaxing in a warm bubble bath, you probably don’t think much about your drain plug. This little piece likely goes undetected until it fails to work! Luckily, troubleshooting your bath plug is not rocket science.

According to Fortune Business Insights (, the market for bath and shower products reached $43.22 billion in 2020. It is projected to continue to rise. We are here to help you get back to enjoy your tub as soon as possible!

Let’s dive into the function of your bath plug and what you can do if it won’t stay down.

Pop Up Bath Plug Won't Stay Down

Pop up bath plug won’t stay down? The solutions are simple – twist the drain plug and remove the cover. Follow that by checking the mechanism of the plug for malfunction. If you cannot repair it, you will have to replace the entire piece. There are DYI videos that can help.

More About Pop Up Plugs or Drain Stoppers

Most modern homes now use pop up drain stoppers in the bathtubs. It is the most common type of bathtub plug on the market. This device does not require an overflow. That’s because it is directly connected to the drain.

Pop up plugs work with a simple mechanism. It has a system of levers and links that move the plug up and down. When closed, the bathtub is sealed and can hold water. When open, the pop up plug allows the tub to drain.

Although the pop up plug may look complex, it is very simple to repair.

How Does a Pop Up Drain Stopper Work?

Pop up plugs have a slotted flat clevis, which connects to the pivot rod-and-ball assembly. It is attached by a tiny spring clip. The rod crosses the rubber pivot ball. It sits on an upward slope towards the plug’s tailpiece.

The rod puts pressure on the plug and pops it back to drain the tub. It can also push down towards the drain body to seal the bathtub.

There is a lift linkage that the lever operates. It does this by pulling on a spring mechanism. The spring helps the rocker arm to raise and lower the drain stopper.

Start the Repair by Removing the Pop Up Plug

It is simple to remove the bathtub plug to do an inspection. Look for any blockage or mechanical issues. There are different types of bathtub pop up plugs.

  • Old-Style Mechanism
  • Modern Spring-Loaded Mechanism
Old Style Pop up Plug

Removing an Old-Style Pop-up Plug

You may follow with steps for removal:

1. Get a firm grip on the body of the plug and pull. It should come out of the drain together with the hinged rocker arm.

2. Check for any type of blockage or buildup. Clean the plug and rocker arm making sure there is no debris, hair, or any other particles.

3. Inspect the rubber seal to make sure it’s intact. Replace the rubber seal if you see it’s worn out or damaged.

4. Return the pop up plug to its normal position. Be sure the plug and rocker arm are positioned in the same way you initially found them. The flange must in good condition. It must also be tightly seated.

It’s common for older bathtubs to have flanges that are rusty or corroded. Be sure to replace the flange if this is the case.

Removing a Modern Spring-Loaded Pop up Plug

1. Start by removing the pop up cap by twisting it with your hand counter-clockwise.

2. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to unscrew out the drain stopper. There is no need to access underneath the bathtub. This can be done right inside the bathtub.

3. Inspect the plug to see if the rubber washer is intact. If you have to replace the whole piece, you can take it with you to the store to get a matching model. The threading size must match.

4. Replace the plug and screw it back into place.

5. Reinstall the top cap by pushing it down as the pressure puts it back into position.

6. Push down the plug a few times to activate it. Test the plug and see if the problem is fixed.

The video below shows the best technique to perform these steps:

Repairing the Bathtub Pop Up Plug

Let’s review a short summary of the steps you’ll take to repair the pop up plug:

1. Take off the screws that hold the overflow cover plate.

2. Pull off the cover plate and lever. Remove away from the overflow hole. You must pull it out only partially. It will detach from the plug’s mechanism.

3. Make adjustments to the nut located on the linkage. To raise the plug, lengthen the nut. To lower the plug, shorten the nut.

4. Replace the cover plate after pushing the assembly back together.

5. Take out the rocker linkage along with the plug. You must first check the seal to make sure it is intact. Clean out any debris, hair, or accumulated particles.

6. Push back the rocker linkage and plug it back into place in the original position.

Now, let’s review these steps in detail:

A pop up bath plug that won’t stay down is a common problem. If the plug doesn’t stay closed, it will prevent the tub from filling up well. It wastes water and it is certainly an annoying occurrence.

It’s important to note that a pop up bathtub plug has a two-part mechanism. The first part is the plug or drain stopper. This part has a rocker arm that stretches back to the drain.

The second part is the overflow assembly. This contains a lever that moves a rod up or down along with a spring. As you put the overflow lever in the up position, it brings the rod and the rocker arm down. This motion lifts the plug.

Conversely, when you put the lever up, the rod lifts and allows the plug to come down for tub drainage (if your tub is leaking from the rod lifts, read our guide here).

Adjust the Overflow Assembly

Adjust the Overflow Assembly

Start by removing the screws that hold the overflow cover plate in place. This will allow you to adjust the overflow assembly. Position the lever and cover plate opposite the overflow hole.

You don’t want to pull out this mechanism all the way, only partially. Next, to moderate the nut that shortens or lengthens the rod, adjust accordingly. Shortening it lowers it and lengthening it raises it.

Adjust the Plug

Finally, to adjust the plug, start by lifting it off the drain including the rocker arm. Inspect the rubber seal for damage and replace it if necessary. Clear any accumulated debris, hair, or particles.

Moderate the nut by shortening or lengthening its connection that attaches to the rocker arm. Move the arm and stopper back into position at the drain. Be sure the flange sits tightly in place. If you have an older bathtub, check for a corroded flange.

A great tip to keep in mind is to keep the drain free from soap scum, debris, and hair. This is one of the best prevention methods for keeping your pop up plug working optimally.

Enjoy Your Bath Once Again!

Troubleshooting a pop up tub plug is simple. It requires you to familiarize yourself with how they work. You must pay attention to all the components to be sure you put correctly everything back into place.

Pop up plugs are essential for enjoying a bath. With a little effort, you can get your tub back in order. If you find that your bath tub isn’t draining properly, read here.

So, get ready to find your rubber ducky and enjoy your bath once again!

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