I am in quite a pickle with my bathtub overflow drain. What I thought would be an easy leak fix quickly turned into a nightmare when one of the bolts for the drain cover snapped off.

So far I've tried drill bits (regular and left-handed) but I cannot bite into the bolt to get a hole for an extractor. My next thought is trying to remove the pipe from below, but I'm not sure how hard that would be, or if I could just end up causing more damage. Any suggestions?

Here's the drain with the broken bolt: Broken tub overflow drain bolt

And here's what's accessible from below: enter image description here

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    Yeah, except use a penetrating oil like Kroil, instead of missile polish :) May 8, 2020 at 2:12
  • @JACK Got it with a vice grips! I had tried with a regular pliers but forgot just how useful vice grips are. Thanks everyone!
    – lucasvw
    May 9, 2020 at 16:20
  • I typed it up as an answer to help anyone else who has a problem. You can upvote or select if you choose.
    – JACK
    May 9, 2020 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


Squirt some WD-40 on the screw, wait awhile and then grab the screw with a pair of vise grips and twist counterclockwise.


Look at you lower photo. See the pipe nut that is at the highest point in the photo? That is a compression nut; there's a packing below this.

Loosen up that nut. The tub overflow pipe (the thing you broke) telescopes inside that lower pipe. The tub overflow pipe should now be able to go straight up until it comes out of the pipe, then you can wangle it down through the hole (or enlarge the hole).

Myself, I just open a cabinet door, (giving access like in this blog here), and there you can see an example of what you're looking at. Mine is in the Victorian style, a tasteful cabinet with a latch and hinges, and tall enough for easy access to the tub faucet. Great place to hide WiFi routers, personal stash, etc. Makes very short work of tub faucet and drain repairs. I recommend the upgrade!

  • Thanks! I ended up not having to go that far but appreciate the advice for if I ever need to do bigger repairs
    – lucasvw
    May 9, 2020 at 16:20

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