Pop Up Drain

I spend a lot of time repairing things around the house.   It seems something is always breaking.  I used to feel overwhelmed by things breaking because it meant calling a repairman, and I never knew how much it was going to cost.  Well, after one particular time we had a repairman who had to return three time to correct his “repair,” I said to myself “Geez, if fixing things means messing up three times, I can do that!”  So even though doing home repairs can at times be frustrating and sometimes it does still feel overwhelming, I just remember that it is frustrating for professional repairmen, too, so don’t let it discourage you!


That said, here is an easy fix for a common problem – the pop up drain stops popping up!

sink without drain cover

The sinks in my children’s bathroom have been like this for a while – sans stopper.  It stopped popping up, so I took it out because it wouldn’t drain.  After fishing out FOUR toothpaste caps – which actually took me over three times as long to do than actually repairing the drain- I was ready to start with the repair.

stopper flange


First, you will want to confirm where the problem is.  I looked at my drain stopper, and I saw that it was intact (if dirty), so I knew that the problem was elsewhere.

The nice thing about plumbing is that it is very mechanical and easy to understand.  Most devices in your plumbing are not mechanically complicated. They fittings may be difficult to get to because you are working in small spaces, but once you get a good look at the mechanism, you will discover that you can actually understand what is going on.

pop up mechanism

Here is a picture of the pop-up mechanism under your sink.  As you can see, uses simple levers to mechanically push your drain stopper up and down.

You will need to unscrew the fitting that is holding on the ball joint, and then you can remove the ball joint rod.

corroded rod

You can see here that the rod is completely corroded, so the part of the rod that would normally fit into the flange on the drain stopper corroded away.

Now that we have confirmed where the problem is, head over to your local home repair store and purchase a universal ball rod assembly kit.  This kit will come with three different size ball joints, so one of them should fit whatever brand drain you have installed.

ball rod assembly

Compare the corroded ball rod with the enclosed ball joints and find the match.  In my case, it was the middle size.match ball sizeNow, you will screw the correct size ball joint onto the rod, thread on the fitting and then one of the enclosed white nuts.  Since this rod is wider in diameter than the corroded rod, I wasn’t able to use the original metal clip; that is why the repair package comes with the white plastic nuts.assemble rodPlace your drain stopper into the drain with the flange facing the back.

flange placementPlace the new rod into an appropriate slot in the pull drain assembly (most likely the 3 or 4th slot), then put the ball joint into the opening.  The tip of the ball joint should slide into the flange of the drain stopper (even though you can’t see this happening).    installing rod

Tighten the fitting around the ball joint. Check to see if the ball joint is engaged in the flange by pulling up on the drain.  If it works, then make sure you have tightened it securely and run water to make sure there are no leaks.

run water

Ta-dah!  You are done!  And the whole thing in less than 20 minutes and for under $10!!!

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