How Can I Remove a Sink Stopper If It’s Stuck?

How Can I Remove a Sink Stopper If It’s Stuck?Removing a stuck sink stopper can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and a step-by-step approach, it can be done efficiently.

Below is a detailed guide on how to remove a stuck sink stopper, including the necessary tools, steps, and tips to ensure success.

Tools and Materials Needed

  1. Plunger
  2. Plumbers‘ tape
  3. Pipe wrench
  4. Pliers
  5. Bucket
  6. Old toothbrush or cleaning brush
  7. Penetrating oil
  8. Vinegar and baking soda (for cleaning)
  9. Gloves
  10. Flashlight
  11. Allen wrench (if applicable)
  12. Drain snake (if necessary)
How Can I Remove a Sink Stopper If It’s Stuck?
How Can I Remove a Sink Stopper If It’s Stuck?

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Before you begin, determine the type of sink stopper you have. Common types include the lift-and-turn, push-and-pull, toe-touch, and the lever-operated stopper. Understanding the type of stopper will help in identifying the correct removal method.

Step 2: Clear the Area

Remove any items from under the sink to give yourself ample space to work. Place a bucket under the sink to catch any water that may spill during the process.

Step 3: Try Simple Methods First

If the stopper is only slightly stuck, you might be able to remove it with simple methods.

  • Plunger Method: Fill the sink with a few inches of water. Place a plunger over the drain and push down firmly, then pull up quickly. This might dislodge the stopper if it’s only slightly stuck.
  • Penetrating Oil: Apply a few drops of penetrating oil around the base of the stopper. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen any debris or corrosion that might be causing it to stick.

Step 4: Remove the Stopper Mechanism

For Lift-and-Turn or Push-and-Pull Stoppers:

  1. Lift and Turn:
    • Grasp the stopper and lift it to the open position.
    • Locate the small set screw at the base of the stopper knob. Use an Allen wrench to loosen this screw.
    • Once the screw is loose, you should be able to lift the stopper out.
  2. Push and Pull:
    • Similar to the lift-and-turn, lift the stopper to the open position.
    • Look for a set screw on the stopper knob and loosen it with an Allen wrench.
    • Remove the stopper by pulling it straight up.

For Toe-Touch Stoppers:

  1. Engage the Stopper: Push down on the stopper to engage it (closed position).
  2. Twist and Remove: Twist the stopper counterclockwise to unscrew it from the drain. You may need pliers for a better grip.

For Lever-Operated Stoppers:

  1. Access the Lever: Under the sink, locate the horizontal pivot rod that connects to the stopper lever.
  2. Disconnect the Rod:
    • Use pliers to remove the retaining clip from the pivot rod.
    • Slide the pivot rod out of the clevis strap (the metal strap with holes).
  3. Remove the Stopper:
    • Lift the stopper out of the drain from above.

Step 5: Inspect and Clean

Once the stopper is removed, inspect it for any damage or buildup that could have caused it to stick. Use an old toothbrush or cleaning brush to remove any debris or buildup from the stopper and the drain.

  • Vinegar and Baking Soda Cleaning: Pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain to clean it. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush with hot water.

Step 6: Reassemble

After cleaning, reassemble the stopper mechanism:

  • Lever-Operated Stoppers: Reinsert the stopper into the drain, then reconnect the pivot rod to the clevis strap and secure it with the retaining clip.
  • Other Types: Simply insert the stopper back into the drain and secure the set screw (if applicable).

Step 7: Test the Stopper

Fill the sink with water and test the stopper to ensure it opens and closes properly. Check for any leaks under the sink, especially around the pivot rod connection.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Stubborn Stoppers: If the stopper is still stuck, try using a drain snake to remove any clogs that might be causing it to jam.
  • Corrosion: If corrosion is the issue, soaking the stopper in vinegar can help dissolve the rust.
  • Professional Help: If the stopper is severely stuck or damaged, it might be best to call a plumber to avoid damaging the sink or plumbing.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly clean the stopper and drain to prevent buildup.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Use mild cleaning agents to avoid damaging the stopper and plumbing.
  • Check for Leaks: Periodically check under the sink for any signs of leaks.


Removing a stuck sink stopper can be a straightforward process if approached methodically. By identifying the type of stopper, using the right tools, and following the steps outlined above, you can successfully remove, clean, and reassemble your sink stopper. Regular maintenance and cleaning will help prevent future issues, ensuring your sink operates smoothly.

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