When you pull the little knob behind your faucet, you expect the stopper to close up your sink. But sometimes, for whatever reason, the mechanism fails. What can you do if your bathroom sink stopper doesn’t work?
There are a few diagnostic tips you can use to solve the problem and get your sink stopper to work properly again. These ideas may also help if your sink drain is sluggish. Below, find four steps to help you fix your bathroom sink stopper simply and easily:
1. What Kind of Sink Stopper Do You Have?
Before getting started, you should confirm the type of sink stopper you have. Most bathroom sinks use a ball and rod stopper. It features a small knob behind the faucet that connects to a rod that runs parallel to your drain. This rod controls the plug, allowing the drain to be stopped or open. Sometimes, however, the rods get loose or breaks causing the stopper to stop working. Furthermore, the nature of a ball and rod stopper design means that hair and other debris can easily get caught in the plug. This can also cause trouble, not only with the plug function but with water flow in the drain as well.
Another common type of stopper is a pop-up drain, which functions without rods. Instead, the stopper is operated by pressing directly on the circular piece in the sink.
Some sinks don’t have any plug at all and simply feature a grid over the drain to prevent debris from washing down. If you notice a grid over your drain, you probably don’t have a stopper at all.
2. Ball and Rod Stoppers: Check the Rod
If you have a ball and rod stopper, you’ll have to get under the sink with a flashlight. Make sure you clear out the area so you have plenty of space to work. Then, look for a rod reaching down from the faucet behind the drain. Try moving the rods to see if they engage the stopper. If the rod has become disconnected or loose, make adjustments so that it functions properly. There’s often a clevis screw you can adjust to make it tighter. If the rod is broken, you may need to replace it.
If the rods won’t engage your drain stopper, you may need to unscrew the plastic retaining nut where the rod enters your pipe. There, you’ll see a ball that should be connected to your stopper. However, if it isn’t connected, a piece of the rod may have rotted away. Take this piece to the hardware store to find your replacement kit. Replacement involves hooking the rod onto the hole at the bottom of the stopper, just like threading a needle. Then, you reconnect the remaining rod pieces.
3. Check the Seal
If you didn’t find an issue with the rod, or you have a pop-up stopper, you’ll need to disassemble the drain to find the cause of the problem. This time, you’ll work from above the sink. If you have a ball and rod stopper, pull the stopper up slightly to check for any debris blocking the drain and remove it.
If you have a pop-up stopper, turn the stopper to the left to remove the stopper piece from the sink. Check the rubber seal that should be firmly around the stopper cap. Check for any debris or dirt that may be stuck to it. Clean it off. If the seal is cracked or dry, you can replace this piece and see if that helps your sink stopper make a better seal.
4. Replace the Piston
If the seal isn’t the issue, you’ll probably need to replace the piston in your pop-up drain. Continue disassembling the stopper by using pliers to turn the piston piece to the left. Once you’ve removed it, you can take it to the store with you and find a matching one to replace it with. To install, you simply perform the steps in reverse to remove the piston.
These four steps should help you solve most bathroom sink drain stopper problems. With your sink stopper fixed, you can finally run water and fill the sink basin for washing, shaving or any other purpose!