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Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

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Pretty Handy Girl: Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

We just got back from a short trip to Vienna, Virginia to visit my family for the holidays. When we arrived, my mom had left me a note in the bathroom we were using.

Here it is:
 My mom, she's so cute, doesn't she know that this sign taunted me the whole visit?
Besides, what kind of daughter would I be if I left this minor repair to a plumber? Puh-lease!

So, here was the deal with the hair clip in the sink. It was her way of holding the stopper up because the rod inside the sink had rusted and broken off. (Pretty creative in my opinion.)
But not the real fix for a sink stopper that would not stay up.
Let's back up before I show you how to repair the stopper. Thank you to Dvorty Girl for the excellent illustration above that she posted on

Sink parts:
  1. Drain Down Rod
  2. Joint Clamp Clip
  3. Horizontal Rod
  4. Nut
  5. Ball, Rod, Nut & Gasket
  6. Stopper Notch
  7. Pop Up Drain Stopper

Universal Pivot Ball Replacement Kit
Pliers (maybe)


1. Clear out enough room so you can work under the sink. (Okay, my mom is going to kill me for showing you her cluttered sink vanity. But, who's sink vanity doesn't look like this?! Please leave a comment and tell her that she's not the only one!)
2. Lay down some towels to cushion the edge of the vanity (or your back, rib cage or hips will be in screaming pain.)
3. Locate the (3)horizontal rod and (5) nut at the back of your drain that holds the (5) ball, rod & gasket.
4.  Unscrew the (5) nut with your fingers or use pliers if it is really tight. Pull out the ball and gasket.
5. To release the (3) horizontal rod from the (1) down rod, squeeze the (2) joint clamp clip between your fingers and slide it off the end of the horizontal rod.
6. Lay out your old pieces to assess the damage. You may or may not need a new gasket (which is sold separately.) This one was broken and needed replacing.
7. Match the old pivot ball with the new ones in the kit. Be sure to choose the one that is exactly the same size. Thread the (5) new ball onto the new (3) horizontal rod.
8. Next thread the new gasket onto the horizontal rod and then the nut.
9. Next feed one end of the (2) joint clip clamp (the kit I bought contained two white stoppers instead of a joint clip clamp). Only add one side or one stopper at this point.)
10. Feed the (3) horizontal rod into the (1) down rod.
11. Line the other end of the (3) horizontal bar up and slip the ball joint into the hole at the back of the drain. Ideally the horizontal bar will be parallel to the floor, but you may have to make some minor adjustments at the end.
12. Screw the nut back onto the drain making sure the ball joint and gasket are lined up properly.
13. Now add the second stopper or the other end of the (2) joint clamp clip to the back of the (3) horizontal rod.
14. Look inside the drain, and notice the post end of the (5) ball joint inside the drain. 
Pull up on the (1) down drain rod and make sure that it moves up and down freely and the post in the drain moves as well.
15. This next step requires a little patience, so put your patience cap on. Feed the drain stopper back into the drain. You want the end of the stopper to be at a 90 degree angle from the ball joint post as show below.

Gently rotate the stopper 90 degrees until the end of the stopper hooks the post.
16. Once the stopper has been properly rotated and hooked onto the ball joint post, test your sink by pulling up and own on the (1) drain down rod.

And you are done! 

Pretty Handsome Guy thought it would be funny to re-arrange the letters in the sign.
And just to prove to you that my Mom can also be handy, this is a photo I found of her from the 1970's when my parents were building my childhood home.
Next time your drain stopper is broken, I hope you will put off calling a plumber and fix it yourself!

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At December 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM , Blogger Laura said...

You're my hero! Thanks for this :)

At December 23, 2010 at 12:11 PM , Blogger Margie said...

Wow! I am SO impressed! We had a plumber here to fix a clog in our sink (among other things) and he took our stopper out when he did it, that was over a year ago, we still have no stopper because he told us he CAN'T get it back in. HA! Now I have proof that it CAN be done! Needless to say, that guy is NEVER coming back to our house (not just because of that, but because every room he worked in [bathroom, powder room and kitchen] he scratched, dented or plain broke something and cursed a blue streak) I envy you for being so handy, I would LOVE to be able to do these things myself or hire a WOMAN to do the job for me!

I WILL be showing this post to my hubby!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

At December 23, 2010 at 1:16 PM , Blogger Rhiannon said...

i love this! you are sooooo handy!!!

At December 23, 2010 at 1:59 PM , Anonymous Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

That is so awesome! I love that you not only fixed it, but of course stopped to take pictures so you could fully document this on your blog.

You rock!! :-)

At December 23, 2010 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Beehive said...

Very cute post. Did you wrap those threads in teflon (sp?) tape?

At December 24, 2010 at 2:45 PM , Blogger Shelly said...

What a great daughter you are! I ALWAYS love a simple solution tutorial, especially from a woman's perspective. Way to go. :) Merry Christmas!

At December 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM , Blogger Reenie said...

Can you come live with me for a week!! :)'re not the only one with a messy under the sink cabinet. I bet it's all organized now.... thx to your daughter ;)

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

At December 29, 2010 at 12:13 AM , Blogger Teresa said...

You are THE BEST!!! Thank you for the tutorial. I will be working on each of our sinks tomorrow!

Always, Teresa T.

At January 4, 2011 at 11:08 PM , Blogger claudia said...

Thanks this was right on time for me. I can't wait to repair this. I kept thinking why bother I have to yank that ugly sink out one day when I remodel.The truth is it will be a while before I can afford to do the whole job and in the mean time miscellaneous things keep falling down the hole. Most recently a screwdriver clogged it rather well and wasn't easy to extract. So now that I know what that kit is called I am going to pick one up. Love ya for this.


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