How to Tighten a Bathtub Drain

The drain in your bathtub is a rather important piece, considering it’s difficult to fill the tub with water without some sort of drain. So, it’s essential that you install the small, albeit crucial, piece properly.

For a quick guide on tightening your bathtub drain, continue reading.

Tighten The Bathtub Drain 

Telltale signs that you need to do some fine-tuning on your bathtub’s drain include leaking water from the drain or overflow tube, which can damage the subfloor underneath the tub. If the tub is on an upper level, you might notice leaks or bubbles in the ceiling below.

The entire process of tightening your bathtub drain should take you less than an hour unless you are trying to avoid another job on a lengthy honey-do list. In that case, take as long as you like.

For this process, you’ll need a couple of things, including:

  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Screwdriver

Start by inserting the ends of the slip joint pliers into different portions of the basket in the bath drain. Insert the screwdriver between the pliers’ two ends, then twist the pliers clockwise using the screwdriver.

Continue turning until the bath drain is snug. Don’t overtighten the drain, as you may end up damaging the tub itself. If this method didn’t do the trick, jump down to the troubleshooting section, which addresses two of the most common drain types and how to fix issues with them.

Troubleshooting Bathtub Drains

Troubleshooting Bathtub Drains

There are several different types of bathtub drain stoppers, including pop-up stoppers and push-pull drain stoppers, which are very common. Each type works using a different mechanism, so tightening the drain requires a slightly different procedure.

Push-Pull Drains

Push pull drain stoppers are relatively foolproof. The stopper itself usually threads into the drain via a setscrew hidden beneath the stopper cap. If the drain is being problematic, simply remove the stopper cap and untwist the push-pull stopper.

If the stopper isn’t correctly sealing, which can happen after years of wear and tear, you’ll need to replace the gasket. For a quick, one-time fix, you can use plumber’s putty to hold water in the tub. Simply roll a small amount of putty in your hands, forming it into a snakelike shape. Ensure it is long enough to encircle the drain.

Lift up the drain, put the putty into place, them push the drain back down. This will create a seal that should be waterproof. You’ll need to remove the putty to drain the tub.

Pop-Up Drains

Pop-Up Drains

On the other hand, pop-up tub drains are slightly trickier to troubleshoot. If you don’t have time to complete the necessary fix, plumber’s putty will do the trick as a one-time fix. However, unless you are planning on going through copious amounts of plumber’s putty (if your household takes a lot of baths), take the extra few minutes to fix the drain.

Pop-up drains utilize a mechanism that sits underneath the tub. Although the mechanism is simple, it isn’t easily accessible. Over time, corrosion may develop on the bathtub drain flange, thus causing issues. If your pop-up tub drain won’t seal properly, here’s what you can do.

For issues with the stopper’s seal, lift the drain out along with the rocker arm. While you have it out, examine the rubber seal (if applicable) for damage. If the rubber seal is damaged, you’ll need to replace it.

Clean off any debris gathered on the drain, such as dirt and hair. Adjust the nut on the underside of the stopper to lengthen or shorten the connection to the rocker arm. Once you address the issue, resituate the arm and stopper back into the drain hole. Make sure the flange is tightly seated to ensure a good seal.

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