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 about $7. 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.

Update: I found the plastic drain to be unreliable and prone to leaking. I believe the plastic drain flange warps when tightened. Best to use the more expensive and sturdier metal brass drain.

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

Copyright © 2017   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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28 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.

  3. Julie December 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Any idea where to get just the tailpiece with pivot? We only need to replace that part on our sink and can’t find it anywhere.

    • Bob Jackson December 23, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

      Replacement pivots rods are available at the home improvement stores. If you need the tailpiece (“pop-up drain body“) too then you’ll likely have to buy a new drain assembly.

      If you have a brand name sink drain made by Kohler, Delta, Moen, etc. check the manufacturer’s web site or call customer support to see if the individual repair parts are available. For example, I found the parts to fix my shower valve at


    • Bridget April 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

      Hi Bob,
      You have the same plastic screw on tailpiece with the whole for the pivot joint like I need! I can’t find it anywhere. Julie did you ever find one? They all come as one whole piece now. Just finding that piece would save me needing to take apart an entire pedestal sink secured to the wall and base and then replace the whole drain:( So much more work then just screwing on a new plastic tailpiece. Sadly mine cracked at the top where it threaded on. At least I know how to replace it confidently thanks to you now Bob. We didn’t buy the faucet and there is no markings on it.

  4. ale January 24, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    I replaced the bathroom drain sink kit and after I finished I turn on the water to make sure that nothing was dripping, but there was no water coming out of the faucet. I don’t understand why? please help

  5. Phil February 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    Great instructions and pictures. I had not problems with the first pop up assembly, but I am unable to get started on another bathroom due to a stripped/worn lock nut that I cannot losen. Any suggestions?

    • Bob Jackson February 14, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

      If the brass lock nut is stripped or spinning the drain body, you try can one of two methods:

      Channel locks:
      Hold the drain body with channel locks and loosen the nut with an adjustable wrench. Wrap the drain body in a wash cloth so the channel locks don’t damage the threads so you can spin off the lock nut.


      Dremel Tool:
      Cut a slot in the nut using Dremel Tool and cutoff wheel. Angle the cut sideways to avoid impacting and damaging the sink. When you have a groove cut most of the way through the lock nut, insert a flat tip screw drive and pry the nut open.


  6. Rachel July 14, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    Just had a handyman replace my faucet and plunger and he didn’t put the clip on that hold the two rods together. He’s disappeared and is not answering my calls now. Can I get a replacement clip?

    • Bob Jackson July 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      You may have to buy pop-up ball rod assembly which includes the clip for around $7. Look in the plumbing section of the hardware store.

  7. Dale Felix September 13, 2015 at 12:54 am #

    I am replacing the pop-up drain assembly with the same Dearborn assembly as shown in your guide. I am having problems getting the old brass lock ring off. When I turn it, the entire unit turns and the lock ring will not unscrew. Any suggestions?

    • Bob Jackson September 13, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      Double wrap a cloth around the drain threads to protect them from damage then hold the drain body still with channellocks placed on the cloth to prevent it from turning. Remove the brass lock nut with wrench.

  8. Jim January 21, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    I am getting leakage past the pivot rod, the white ball and locking cap. My kit came with two washer/gaskets. Should there be one on each side of the white ball? Or is only one required between the ball and the locking cap? How tight should the locking cap be? Should I put something like vaseline jelly one the ball to get a good seal.

    • Bob Jackson January 21, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

      The pivot rod has two tapered washers that go on both sides of the pivot ball as explained in How to Replace a Pop-Up Sink Drain – Part 3. Both are required and must be installed so they fit the round contour of the pivot ball.

      The pivot nut (“locking cap”) should be tightened such that:
      * It’s snug with no leaks at the pivot ball.
      * Not so tight it’s difficult to move the pivot arm with the pop-up handle.

      Screw on the pivot nut until finger tight, then maybe 1/2 turn or so more. Run the water, check for leaks and tighten it a little more if needed. Toilet tissue is an excellent leak detector. Dab a square around the pivot nut and it’ll reveal the smallest drop.

      Oh, and don’t use Vaseline or other lubricants.

  9. jim February 29, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    do i need to take taps off to get at the top of drain rod

  10. Richrd March 8, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

    We need to get the plug to release. The plug was pushed down in order to open the drain but it’s stuck and won’t come up… We’re told it’s “a relatively new unit”

  11. Richrd March 8, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    I know you have these explanations with photos but they don’t correlate with our problem

  12. Randy January 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    I have just replaced the pivot rod and ball due to it breaking. It took me several tries reinstalling the P Trap before I saw the leaking stopped. I believe it was on the tail pipe where the first threaded part of the pipe has a nylon washer . (My big question is that I read there are 2 washers associated with the pivot ball). My kit did not come with any washers for the pivot ball. Only 3 pivot balls and was instructed to choose which one is closest in size to the one to be removed. I appreciate your time and can see that you have helped many people here.

    Thanks again, Randy

  13. Christine James February 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

    Hey Bob, Have you ever heard of the pipe being too long or the sink being too thin to make a good connection? After popping the drain in and screwing the brass lock nut on as far as it will go, there’s still a huge gap between it and the sink. I did put the rubber washer and the white washer on before the brass nut. The two holes in the pipe are below the sink level. Are there different sizes??? Thanks for your help.

  14. Christine James February 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

    Thanks, Bob. I figured it out. I feel like such a dummy. I was forgetting to put in the piece with the hose that goes to the overflow hole in the sink. Once I did that it worked like a charm. No leaks…works perfectly. :) Thanks!

  15. Robin Dowdell March 16, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Hi, can you replace the original pull type drain with the newer push and seal drains instead?

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