Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am trying to replace my bathtub drain however the cross bars have broken off so I am unable to unscrew it from the tub.

How can I unscrew it?


This is approximately the product I am trying to install: drain

On the packaging it says to use pliers to grab the cross bars of the old train in order to unscrew it. The drain is supposed to look like this:

But the cross bars have broken off.

share|improve this question
Ok thanks for adding the 2nd pic. Those crossbars are not structural - they're paper thin and just there to keep large objects from falling down the drain. – The Evil Greebo Oct 17 '11 at 19:38
Actually they make a tool for those that work better than using a pair of pliers to hold onto the cross bars. – Brad Gilbert Oct 28 '11 at 5:01

Get a drain key and a crescent wrench it will expand in the hole giving you friction to turn the drain out.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
I hadn't heard of this tool before. Great answer. I added an example image/link for others that haven't heard of it either. – BMitch Feb 7 '13 at 11:57
Sadly i tried this and spent a good 45 minutes trying to unscrew it. It appears that the drain was installed using an adhesive other than plumbers putty so it is stuck for good. The only other solution i am aware of is to cut it out with a rotary tool. – luke Mar 20 '13 at 23:32

I don't know for sure what you mean by cross-bars, but bathtub drains are not usually removable (at least not w/o destroying the drain) from the end user side of the tub, and it's virtually IMPOSSIBLE to tighten the drain sufficiently from the "sit here" side of the tub if you were able to remove the old one.

Have a look at this typical example of a tub drain:

enter image description here

As you can see, the drain assembly is affixed securely to the tub with a wide nut, designed to be removed from underneath.

You'll need to get access to the back side of the tub - hopefully there is an accessible panel you can get at - otherwise that usually means cutting a hole into the wall behind the tub.

share|improve this answer
I don't think i will be able to get access to the tub like that, the tub is on a shared wall in a condo. – luke Oct 17 '11 at 19:27
Can you get at it from below (from the basement if the tub is on the first floor, or from the first floor if it is on the second floor)? – auujay Oct 17 '11 at 19:35

If the cross bar is broken, then you need to bend the outer lip of the drain up. It will be a witch of a job.

Use needle nose pliers to start. Once you can get the lip bent enough, use some channel locks and work it off. The top drain just screws into the lower part. Just keep working it. I did this about 3 weeks ago and at one point I replaced the channel locks with vise grips then used a hammer to push the grips. I also sprayed some WD40 under lthe lip too. It took me 2 hours to get the original drain out, and then about 5 minutes to install the new drain. Can you say miller time?

share|improve this answer
Be careful not to damage the tub while attempting this – Tester101 Nov 23 '11 at 13:07

One way you can fix it is by tapping in a 23mm socket into the drain. Then attach a ratchet to the socket and twist it out.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.