I have a trip lever mechanism on my old tub and want to replace it because the water stop lever is faulty and the tub drains and leaks slowly. I removed the cover plate from the overflow opening and pulled the linkage assembly out, but the connected plunger will not exit. It looks as though the plunger is longer than the opening will allow. In other words, while looking through the overflow drain, the vertical pipe appears to extend about 1/2" higher than the opening, preventing the plunger from being removed. This plunger moves freely and does not appear corroded. I've not seen this issue on any of the how-to videos out there.

Is it possible to remove this plunger so I can snake through the overflow drain to unclog the tub, or will this involve access from behind the tub wall?

  • If the plunger is not corroded and moves freely I doubt changing it would improve your faulty operation. You say you want to snake through the overflow opening. I don't think this is a standard operation. Is this an idea you came up with on your own? (In my experience novel ideas are often wrong.) Have you tried plunging at the drain with a plumbers friend? You would cover the overflow so the suction and pressure strokes are effective. Chemical drain cleaners are effective but I wouldn't use any harsh ones which could damage thin metal drain pipes. – Jim Stewart Feb 14 '19 at 12:43
  • Could it be that in former times tubs were intended to be installed with a port into the area under the tub allowing removal of the overflow and drain piping through the wall opposite? – Jim Stewart Feb 14 '19 at 14:22
  • The idea of snaking through the overflow was suggested by a plumber on youtube ( youtube.com/watch?v=unTzz5b2rFY&feature=youtu.be ). I will look into the alternative methods you mentioned, as there is no way that plunger is coming out, i guess. There isn't an access point or port behind or under the tub, unfortunately. I'd have to remove tiles, etc., to repair the pipes. Having access to these areas seems like a more modern idea, though. Thanks for you suggestions Jim. Robin :) – Robin Feb 14 '19 at 21:00

I have never heard of one that will not come out of the overflow.

This guy says to clean with CLR and then put plumber's grease on it. It would probably seal then.

EDIT Another video on the design and operation of the tub drain. If your stopper won't come out then maybe it was not ever installed from the top. Maybe it is not the correct one for this drain assembly and was put in from below. This guy is long winded and repetitive but covers the material.

EDIT Videos on clearing tub drain another for [hair]removal4.

  • The plunger connected to the linkage in my tub appears longer than the one in the video you posted. I will attach a picture of the opening behind the faceplate of the overflow soon. Thanks for your help :) – Robin Feb 14 '19 at 21:19
  • Can you see the bottom end of the plunger? If so, is the bottom end squared off or is it cut on a bevel? I can imagine the bottom being cut on a bevel so that it could clear the tube on the way out, but somehow the plunger had been rotated 180 deg once it was inside. Then if you tried pulling it out the bevel would be the wrong way for the plunger to come out. The solution would be to rotate the linkage 180 deg at a certain point. But if you would try this BE OBSERVANT so that the plunger doesn't drop off the linkage and fall down into the drain. – Jim Stewart Feb 14 '19 at 23:36
  • @Robin did this work for you? If so, please come back and give Jim a check mark for his efforts! – FreeMan Jul 14 '20 at 14:57

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