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How to Replace a Pop-Up Sink Stopper

Is your pop-up sink stopper acting up? These handy sink features are great when they’re working, but they can be a bit tricky to fix when something goes wrong. Use this guide to figure out what’s causing the issue and learn how to replace a pop-up sink stopper without complications.

pop-up sink stopper
Photo via Flickr by Arenamontanus

Get Your Tools Together

First things first: it’s time to assemble your tool kit for this DIY project. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Sealant
  • Cleaning solution
  • A replacement stopper (in most cases)

Removing the Stopper

To figure out what’s wrong, you’ll first need to remove the pop-up stopper assembly from your sink. Here’s how:

  1. Remove everything from under the sink to create more room to work.
  2. Loosen the nuts holding the horizontal pivot rod in place, then remove the rod from the drain pipe.
  3. Loosen the clevis screw, which can be found near the stopper rod at the top of the clevis.
  4. Lift the stopper out of the drain.

Potential Problems

There are a few reasons your pop-up sink stopper may have stopped working. Here’s how to tell which issue is at hand:

  • Cracked seal: Inspect the rubber seal on the bottom of the stopper head. If it’s cracked or brittle, that’s the reason your sink won’t stay plugged up effectively.
  • Dirty seal: In some cases, a seal with lots of built-up gunk is causing the stopper to malfunction. When this is the problem, the rubber seal will have a visible build-up of slime and sink debris.
  • Broken parts: Broken parts can be detected by inspecting the parts for cracks, rust, and other signs of deterioration.

Fixing or Replacing the Pop-Up Sink Stopper

With the stopper assembly out in plain view, you should be able to quickly determine the cause of the problem. If it’s a dirty seal, soak the stopper in a mild cleaner and use an old tooth brush to remove the gunk. Then, simply replace the stopper.

Unfortunately, a cracked seal or broken parts is more likely to be the cause. In this case, you’ll need to purchase and install a new pop-up sink stopper. The good news is that it’s a relatively easy part to replace. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove the old drain flange and clean away any debris from the area.
  2. Add a thin line of sealant to the new flange and set aside for a moment.
  3. Insert the new stopper up through the bottom of the sink.
  4. Screw on the flange until it makes contact with the sink bowl.
  5. Hold the pop-up assembly body under the sink, being sure to face the rod opening towards the back of the sink.
  6. Tighten the retaining nut to hold the horizontal pivot rod in place.
  7. Tighten the clevis screw.
  8. Test the stopper to be sure that all moving parts are attached and that it is creating a tight seal in the sink bowl.
  9. Adjust the retaining nut and clevis screw if necessary until the stopper is functioning as desired.

It really is that easy. Even though you’ll likely have to replace the entire pop-up sink stopper assembly, these parts are typically available for under $10.

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