How to Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain

This step-by-step tutorial shows how to replace a bathroom sink pop-up drain. The sink pop-up stopper wouldn’t raise when the lift handle was moved, preventing water from draining. Something in the pop-up mechanism was broken.

Bathrom Sink Repair: Pop-Up Stopper Won't Raise

Bathrom Sink Repair: Pop-Up Stopper Won’t Raise

Sink Drain Repair – Broken Pop-Up Stopper

I used the tip of my pocket knife to lift the edge of the pop-up stopper and grab it with my fingers and pull it out of the drain. I shouldn’t be able to simple pull out the stopper unless something was broken. The plastic loop at the bottom of the stopper was OK, so it must be a problem with the pivot rod that engages the pop-up stopper.

Sink Drain Repair: Remove the Pop-up Stopper

Sink Drain Repair: Remove the Pop-up Stopper

The next photo is the view of the sink bottom and pop-up drain inside the vanity cabinet. The lift handle on the faucet is connected to the extension bar which moves the pivot rod (also called a “ball rod”) to actuate the pop-up stopper. I suspect there’s a problem with the pivot rod.

Pop-Up Sink Drain Repair: Pop-Up Stopper Pivot Rod

Pop-Up Sink Drain Repair: Pop-Up Stopper Pivot Rod

The metal spring clamp is pinched to slip it off the end of the pivot rod and disconnect it from the extension bar:

Pop-up Drain Repair: Remove the Pivot Rod Spring Clip

Pop-up Drain Repair: Remove the Pivot Rod Spring Clip

The pivot nut is unscrewed to remove it from the sink drain. Found the problem: The end of the pivot rod rusted off where it engages the pop-up stopper.

Pop-up Sink Drain Repair: Rusted and Broken Pivot Rod

Pop-up Sink Drain Repair: Rusted and Broken Pivot Rod

I took apart the sink drain P-trap and found the end of the pivot rod in the bottom of the J-bend. The chrome finish wore off the rod where it engages the pop-up stopper, ultimately rusting in two after 11 years of service:

Pop-up Sink Drain Repair: Rusted Pivot Rod and Stopper

Pop-up Sink Drain Repair: Rusted Pivot Rod and Stopper

Pop-Up Drain Repair Parts

I took the rusted pivot rod and nut to Home Depot to buy a replacement part.

  • Home Depot had replacement part for the pivot rod with the ball & nut for couple of dollars, but it wouldn’t fit my drain.
  • My next option was the Danco Universal Fit Ball Rod Assembly #88532 for $7.67. This would work, but I preferred an original single piece part.
  • For only $7.29 I could buy a new Dearborn Brass 1-1/4″ Pop-Up Drain, model #H756-1, made of plastic with a chrome finish. I liked getting a whole new drain for less money than just the ball rod assembly.
  • I had minor reservations about the durability of an all-plastic drain, so I also bought the chrome plated brass Dearborn Brass 1-1/4″ Pop-Up Drain, model H759-1 for $16.98.

The two Dearborn Brass Pop-Up Drains are shown here:

Dearborn Brass Pop-Up Drain: Model # H759-1 and H756-1

Dearborn Brass Pop-Up Drain: Model # H759-1 and H756-1

The H759-1 chrome plated brass drain is heavy with a brass lock nut compared to the lightweight economy H756-1 plastic pop-up drain with a plastic lock nut. Since the drain plumbing in the house is all PVC plastic, I thought I’d try a plastic pop-up drain. I kept both the brass and plastic drains – just in case I have a problem with the plastic drain.

The Dearborn Brass 1-1/4″ pop-up drain assembly is illustrated in this next photo. I’ll keep the old Lift Rod, Clevis and Extension Rod because there’s nothing wrong with these parts and replace only the Pop-Up Drain, Pivot Rod and Spring Clip.

Dearborn Brass 1-1/4" Pop-Up Drain Assembly - Model H756-1

Dearborn Brass 1-1/4″ Pop-Up Drain Assembly – Model H756-1

How to Replace a Pop-Up Drain

To take out the old pop-up drain, I first removed the slip nut and slip washer that connected the drain tail piece to the J-Bend on the P-Trap by sliding these off the of the tail piece. Put these aside as they will be reused.

Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain: Remove the P-Trap Slip and Slip Washer

Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain: Remove the P-Trap Slip and Slip Washer

The old drain has a plastic tail piece that is screwed on the metal drain body. The threads are sealed with pipe joint compound to prevent leaks. Unscrew the tail piece by hand.

Remove a Pop-Up Drain: Unscrew the Tail Piece from the Drain

Remove a Pop-Up Drain: Unscrew the Tail Piece from the Drain

The large brass lock nut is unscrewed with a 12-inch adjustable wrench. You can also use a pair of Channellocks (adjustable pliers) if you don’t have a large enough wrench.

Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain: Unscrew the Brass Lock Nut with a Wrench

Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain: Unscrew the Brass Lock Nut with a Wrench

Once the brass lock nut is loose it’s faster to spin it off the drain body by hand. I needed the wrench again to work the nut past the pipe joint compound on the pipe threads:

Replace a Pop-Up Drain: Remove the Brass Lock Nut

Replace a Pop-Up Drain: Remove the Brass Lock Nut

The old pop-up sink drain body is pushed up and into the sink after the brass lock nut is off. No need to remove the sink flange. Lot’s of Plumber’s Putty in the sink drain hole to clean up:

Remove a Pop-Up Drain

Remove a Pop-Up Drain

This project is continued in How to Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain – Part 2.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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3 Responses to How to Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain

  1. Amanda December 1, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    AHHHH! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!!! I accidentally broke part of the plastic pipe when I saw that it was jammed and the pop up drain wouldn’t go down sooo I slammed it down. BIG mistake! To top it off it was in my mom’s bathroom. Thanks to this tutorial I was able to change it and clean up the mess all before mom got home from work lol! Thanks again!

  2. Broseph November 30, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Thanks. Just used this to repair a pivot rod with the same rusty break problem.

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