How to Adjust a Bathroom Sink Stopper
"The most common cause of a stopper that doesn’t respond to the up and down motion of the visible control rod at the top of the faucet is the nut on the flat bar is loose."
Adjust Bathroom Sink Stopper Checklist
- Does control rod at the top go up and down?
- Does stopper move at all?
- Will stopper come out of drain if you lift it?
- Get channel-lock pliers ready
This column was suggested by Sherie Anderson as the first winner in the How-To Suggestions. Refer to the January 15, 2015 AsktheBuilder Newsletter.
Are you flummoxed by the simple sink stopper in your bathroom sink? You may get frustrated when you push the rod down and the pesky stopper is unresponsive to your command to lift up and let the water flow from the sink.
Is it Hard to Adjust a Bathroom Sink Stopper?
The good news is it’s easy to adjust the bathroom sink stopper. You want it to pop up plenty high to allow fast drainage and you want it to seal positively so that water stays in the sink.
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Can I Clear Clogs While Adjusting the Stopper?
Yes, you can clear clogs while you're adjusting the stopper.
The added benefit of doing this job is that you can remove any hair or gunk that’s contributing to a slow-draining bathroom sink. You can also get rid of that nasty odor that happens each time you run your bathroom sink water.
Degree of Difficulty:
What Tools Do I Need?
The only tools you’ll need for this job are adjustable pliers, safety glasses and a bottle brush that has a 1.5-inch diameter.
What Makes the Stopper Go Up and Down?
A control rod that is located at the rear center of the faucet makes the stopper go up and down. It has a decorative knob on it.
This rod passes through the faucet body and extends down to where it connects to a flat bar with holes in it. The top of this bar has a bolt in it.
How Do I Adjust the Sink Stopper?
Lay on your back and look up under your sink to begin adjusting the sink stopper. Be sure your safety glasses are on in case some debris falls down. You don’t need an expensive trip to the ER! Look at the back of the drain pipe as it leaves the sink.
You should see a round nut and protruding out of the back of this is a rod that passes through the flat bar. It’s held in place with a V-shaped spring clamp.
Why Doesn't the Sink Stopper Go Up and Down?
The most common cause of a stopper that doesn’t respond to the up and down motion of the visible control rod at the top of the faucet is the nut on the flat bar is loose. The rod on the top of the sink moves up and down, but the flat bar remains motionless.
Should the Sink Stopper Be Connected to Anything?
Yes, the bottom of the sink stopper should be connected to the round horizontal chrome control rod under the sink.
The second-most common cause of stopper problems is the rod that enters the sink drain pipe is not connected to the bottom of the sink stopper. You can verify this by trying to gently pull up the stopper out of the sink. If you can pull the stopper completely out of the sink, someone never installed it right. Note how the bottom of the stopper has an oval hole and it’s off-centered. This oval piece of plastic needs to be aimed towards the back of the sink drain pipe when installed.
Is it Best To Take the Stopper Apart?
The best way, in my opinion, to adjust a bathroom sink stopper is to just take it apart. Use the adjustable pliers and rotate the round nut that holds the rod in place that protrudes out of the back of the sink drain pipe.
Pull out the rod and the sink stopper will now be able to be pulled out of the sink. Beware of gross gunk and hair on the stopper. Remove this gunk and clean the stopper.
How Do I Prevent Water From Leaking From the Pipe?
Place a piece of duct tape over the hole in the back of the drain pipe where the round nut and rod was moments before. Place an old towel on the bottom of the vanity under the sink trap and drain pipe.
These are to capture any water that might leak from the open hole of the drain pipe as you run some water into the sink while using the bottle brush to clean off the stinky bio-film from the sides of the drain pipe. Use a flashlight to inspect your work. Get the inside of the drain pipe clean as far down as you can.
How Do I Reassemble the Sink Stopper Parts?
Reassemble the parts in reverse order. Be sure the end of the rod passes through the oval hole at the bottom of the stopper.
You can have a helper check this while you’re under the sink. Reinstall the round nut and tighten it, but don’t over-tighten.
Position the rod in a downsloping position which should have the stopper sticking up as high as possible from the bottom of the sink. While the stopper is in the raised position, have your helper hold the upper control rod about one inch up from the sink faucet while you tighten or adjust the bolt on the flat bar.
Adjust Bathroom Sink Stopper Summary
That’s all there is to this job. It seems hard, but it’s not. Once you’ve tightened the bolt at the top of the flat bar, check the operation of the stopper. When you pull the upper rod up on the faucet, the stopper should close tightly. When you push the rod down slowly, the stopper should rise up about 3/4s of an inch allowing plenty of water to drain from the sink.