What to do if Your Bathroom Drain Won’t Unscrew


Have you ever been forced to deal with a bathroom drain that isn’t working properly? Maybe it’s not draining particularly well and when you go to remove the drain in order to inspect and clean it, you find that it is firmly stuck in position. This happens a lot with a particular style of drain that is popular in bathrooms, the pop-up drain.

They can be found in bathroom sinks or even in the bathtub itself. Eventually, these types of drains seem to develop a tendency to get stuck and when they do, it requires a great deal of patience to work them loose. Keep reading to find out exactly how to get one of these bathroom drains unstuck. Learning how to do this properly may help you keep your sanity the next time one of your bathroom drains develops a stubborn streak.

Come Prepared

One of the first things you need to know about working on these types of drains is that you should be prepared long before you actually get started. Gather the tools that you’re going to need and bring everything with you the first time. Otherwise, you’ll wear yourself out running back and forth to get various items and you’ll end up frustrated before the real work even begins.

What types of tools are you going to need? It’s a good idea to bring an empty coffee can, bucket or something similar so you can put parts in it. This helps you keep everything in one place and it reduces the risk that you’ll indifferently leave something behind that might be small enough to go into the mouths of small children or pets. You’ll also need a number of rags. Make sure to bring some that are very thin so you can use them as a barrier between the drain itself and any tools that you might be using as a means of preventing damage.

Aside from that, you’ll need several paper towels or even cloth towels to clean up the mess that will undoubtedly end up all over everything when you finally do break the drain free and pull it out. Keep in mind, if you’re using cloth towels you might want to choose something that you don’t have a problem throwing away.

If you’ve ever cleaned a drain in the past, you know that it’s a messy job. As such, you probably don’t want to put those used towels in your washing machine. After you collect these items, be sure to have a small, flat head screwdriver and a solid pair of pliers that you can use easily. It’s best if you choose pliers that are well-made, but still small enough to get the job done. It’s not going to do much good if you choose something that’s so bulky that you can’t even get a good grip on the very drain you’re trying to work loose.

Working the Drain Loose

Now that you’ve collected all of the tools you’ll need, it’s time to get down to business. In all likelihood, the drain is stuck because old soap scum, hair and other debris have created a sticky mess underneath the drain cap that’s causing it to get stuck. The question is, what are you supposed to do about it?

The first thing you’ll want to do is get your flat head screwdriver and carefully work the screwdriver underneath the drain cap as far as you possibly can. Be patient and work a little bit at a time. You don’t want to damage the sink, tub or the drain cap itself, something that can be done rather easily if you’re not very careful. Be sure to work the screwdriver all the way around the entire circumference of the drain. Hopefully, this will be enough to break it free.

If it is, then you can simply grab the drain cap and pull it straight up and out so that you can clean both it and the drain in order to prevent this from happening again. Be sure to wear gloves so that you don’t end up with this mess all over your hands. It’s best to choose some work gloves that have a grip texture on them so it’s easier to hold on to the drain without dropping it.

What if the Drain Still Won’t Come Loose?

In some cases, you’ll do the aforementioned step and the drain still won’t come loose. If that happens, then it’s time to move on to the next step with your pliers. Before you actually get to work with the pliers themselves, take the thinnest towel that you have and lay it down directly over the drain cap so that you’re not actually touching the cap itself or any portion of the sink or tub with the pliers.

This will help prevent damage and keep everything as clean as possible. Next, be sure that you have a good grip on the drain cap. Once you do, start twisting it back and forth while simultaneously pulling up on it. This is something that requires a bit of finesse. You’ll want to start twisting it back and forth gently at first, then gradually adding a little bit more force to the movement in order to break it free. The same is true with the upward motion that you’re using.

What you don’t want to do is start turning it back and forth as hard as you possibly can because you’re a lot more likely to break something instead of successfully getting it loose. When you do finally feel the drain cap break loose, go ahead and set the pliers aside. You don’t want to use tools that could potentially cause damage any more than absolutely necessary.

Finally, remove the rag and then use your gloved hands to pull the drain out so that it can be cleaned properly. As you can see, working with a stuck bathroom drain can be a bit of a process. That said, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can usually take care of the problem yourself.

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