How to Fix a Sink Stopper

A sink stopper is a faucet component with a pull-and-push rod control that offers modern convenience. But like other sink fixtures, it can also fail, which makes it unsightly and inconvenient to use. Luckily, you will be able to repair it yourself with just some basic plumbing skills and the right steps to take.

1. Identify the problem.

You might think that something is just separated from another component in the sink stopper, and you can simply put it back. Also, you might think that you can restore the stopper’s function by just twisting or manipulating the operating rod while holding the stopper in place. But actually, a malfunctioning sink stopper most probably has parts that are either badly worn or broken, which means that they should be replaced.

2. Secure the necessary tools and materials.

In this task, you need to get the tools and supplies that you will need, especially a replacement stopper, that can come as a pop-up assembly with a linkage and a lift rod. As for the tools and materials, they include a pair of slip joint pliers, an adjustable wrench, a screwdriver, a silicone sealant that is specifically used for the sink.

3. Remove the P-trap.

Before you remove anything, make sure you have completely shut off the water supply to the sink. And to catch any spill and keep everything dry, it is recommended place a pan under the pipe connections and some towels near you. To start removing the P-trap, loosen and remove first its top retainer nut, which is located in the low-bend of the trap and always contains water, which is another reason to use a pan. You might smell some sewer vapor when removing this nut, especially when a house is unoccupied for a while, as the nut functions as a seal to keep this gas coming into your house. If a house is left unoccupied for a long while, you may smell sewer gas. To avoid this gas, you can run water down drain for 1 to 2 minutes. Take note that the choice of tools to loosen and tighten your P-trap would depend on what it is made of—plastic, chrome-plated brass, etc.—so check this out first. Remove the trap and set it aside.

4. Remove the finished flange.

Disconnect the lifting rod by pinching the ends of the retainer clip and slide off the end of the linkage rod. Using a pair of pliers, loosen the pop-up assembly retainer nut with a few turns and then rock the pop-up assembly back and forth to be able to loosen the old sealant that is located below the finished flange. Push up on the assembly to gain access to the finished flange and then grasp it with a pair of pliers. Turn the pop-up assembly body to unscrew it from the finished flange. Take note that the old sealant breaks away or cracks easily, so remove and discard all of it, as well as the old finished flange, which is also no longer useful.

5. Fit the new finished flange.

Depending on the type of finished flange you are using—whether it is screwed on the inside or the outside of the body of the pop-up assembly. Take note that the diameter of the threaded area on your new flange should perfectly slip into the hole in the bottom of your sink. If it happens that it is not fit, you can carefully trim the plastic ring that is molded into the bottom of the sink to fit the flange into the hole just fine.

6. Apply the sealant.

Apply sealant around the finished flange where it contacts the sink. In this step, press the flange into the hole in the sink, while making sure that there is sufficient amount of sealant and there are no air pockets and gaps. If the design of your pop-up assembly has the flange to be fitted on the outside of the assembly body, it could leak after installation. To avoid this problem, insert the body into the hole in the sink and screw it onto the finished flange without disturbing the flange and the seal. Hold the body so that the linkage rod fitting would point towards the rear of the sink, which is also the side towards the wall.

7. Tighten the assembly body nut.

When tightening the nut on the body of the pop-up assembly, consider the material. If you have the plastic, just use your fingers to tighten it sufficiently, but if you have the brass, you can use a pair of pliers to get the job done. Also, hold firmly while tightening and make sure that the body does not rotate out of its position.

8. Install the linkage into the retainer nut.

Before sliding the linkage into the nut, make sure that the teflon ring in the pop-up assembly body, serving as a seal between the body and the ball, is still in place. You will also notice a piece of similar white plastic that would fall out when you remove the linkage retainer nut from the body, so make sure it is inside the nut before re-installing.

9. Assemble the stopper.

Drop the new drain plug into the flange hole from the top of the sink, position the linkage rod into the hole and then catch the loop at the drain plug bottom with the rod. Screw the retainer nut into place on the assembly body, with the end of the linkage rod in a downward position. Slide the hole at the end of the rod with the retainer clip and then pull up the knob of the lift rod like when you use the sink. Check if the stopper pulls down as far as it can go to create a seal, and if not, slide the retainer clip towards the pop-up assembly body until it properly pulls down and create a seal.

10. Do the finishing touches.

Fit and appropriately tighten the P-trap, while making sure both of its nuts are in place. Clean up any extra sealant around the finished edges and then check for leaks.

There you have it. By following these steps, you will be able to fix your sink stopper!

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