Plumbing

How To Replace Or Maintain A Sink Pop Up Drain Assembly

Written by Whitney Bennett

THE MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.LANDMARK HOME WARRANTY DOES NOT PURPORT TO BE A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT WITH REGARD TO THIS MATERIAL, AND YOU SHOULD CONDUCT YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SEEK THE ADVICE OF APPROPRIATELY QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS WITH REGARD TO YOUR SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE YOU TAKE ACTION. LANDMARK HOME WARRANTY ASSUMES NO RESPONSIBILITY, AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY, FOR YOUR USE OF ANY AND ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN.


Does your sink not drain? Does it not let you fill the basin with water? If so, your sink's pop-up assembly in the drain may be broken. 

What has happened in the sink, is the pop-up mechanism (or assembly) has broken. When a pop-up assembly is working correctly, it is fairly simple, using leverage to open and close the drain. When you pull up on the lift rod on the back of your sink, the stopper is closed, and when you push the rod down, the stopper opens.

Animation showing how a sink pop up mechanism works.

Like this!

 The lift rod that you are pulling up is attached to what is called the pivot rod, which is connected to your drain stopper. When the lift rod is pulled up, it pulls up the pivot rod, which pulls down the drain stopper.

Side-view animation showing how a sink pop-up drain working properly.

There are a few reasons why this part of your sink might not be working. The part of the pivot rod that connects to the drain stopper may have rusted or broken off, or the drain stopper itself might be broken so that the pivot rod can’t actually pull the stopper down. There might not be enough leverage from your lift rod on your pivot rod, even. If your sink isn’t draining well, and you can open and close your pop-up mechanism, it might be because there is something that you need to clean out of the drain that has caught on the mechanism.

Before you call a plumber, you can fix this yourself, for a lot less money. Whatever the problem is with your pop-up mechanism, you can easily find replacement parts at a hardware store. There are universal kits you can purchase for anywhere between $4.00 and $14.00.

After purchasing a repair kit, the actual repair process is extremely easy. If you don't know what part is what is in a pop-up assembly, we published a post on how your pop-up assembly works. Familiarize yourself with the parts of the assembly so you know how to complete this DIY project.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

1. PREPARE SINK

Before you start repairing or cleaning your pop-up drain, make sure to turn the water off on your sink, ensure the back of the sink is accessible and put a bucket underneath the drain, just in case. 

2. LOOSEN THE SPRING CLIP

Remove the spring clip on the pop-up assembly sink drain.
Loosen your spring clip that is keeping the clevis strap attached to the pivot rod. 

3. TAKE OFF THE SPRING CLIP AND CLEVIS STRAP

Remove the clevis strap from the sink pop up assembly.
Remove the spring clip and the clevis strap completely. 

4. UNSCREW GASKET HOLDING PIVOT ROD

Remove gasket holding pivot rod in sink drain pop up mechanism.

Leave the clevis strap where it is hanging and twist off the gasket that is holding the pivot rod in the drain. 

5. REMOVE PIVOT ROD

Remove pivot rod from sink pop up drain assembly.
After you remove the gasket on the drain, you will see a small white ball on the pivot rod. This is the seal that prevents water from leaking out all over your bathroom floor. On the other side of the ball is the portion of the pivot rod that attaches to the drain stopper that could be dirty or broken off. 

6. EXCHANGE OR CLEAN PIVOT ROD

Clean off the pivot rod, or replace it with a new pivot rod.
If you are just doing maintenance on your pivot rod, clean it off in a different sink. If you are changing out your pivot rod for one that will work, make sure to match the correct seal ball size and length of pivot rod in the universal repair kit, with your seal and rod. Attach the correct seal ball with the correct rod length and set aside. 

7. EXCHANGE OR CLEAN DRAIN STOPPER

Replace or clean the drain stopper from sink pop up mechanism.

Clean off your drain stopper in a different sink if you are just doing maintenance. At this time, clean out your drain, too. If you are replacing the stopper, unscrew the cap on the top, and screw on the new drain bottom. 

8. REPLACE THE DRAIN STOPPER

Replace the drain stopper into the pop-up assembly in the drain.

Make sure that you put the new or cleaned drain stopper with the hole facing out toward you. This way, the pivot rod can go through the hole at the bottom of the drain stopper and move it up and down. 

9. REPLACE THE PIVOT ROD

Replace pivot rod on the sink pop-up mechanism.
Take the new or cleaned pivot rod and put it into the drain. Make sure that when the pivot rod is in, when you manually move it up and down, the stopper moves up and down. Otherwise, you will need to fiddle with the drain stopper to make sure the pivot rod goes into the bottom of the stopper. 

10. PUT THE GASKET ON THE PIVOT ROD

Seal pivot rod into sink pop up assembly by screwing the gasket on tightly.
Replace the gasket to hold the pivot rod, and remember to twist it hard so that it won't leak!

11. REPLACE CLEVIS STRAP AND SPRING CLIP 

Finally, replace pivot rod back into clevis strap and secure with spring clip..

Make sure to attach the clevis strap and the pivot rod on the same hole as before, or increase the leverage by changing the holes the pivot rod goes through. pinch the spring clip around the clevis strap to ensure the clevis strap will not fall off the pivot rod. 

Congratulations, you've successfully changed out your pivot rod and sink pop-up assembly. If you have a home warranty with Landmark Home Warranty, you may have noticed that pop-up assemblies are not included in the list of things that are covered with a home warranty. That's because the parts and labor to replace this cost more than the service call fees of $60-$100.  If you are interested in covering the bigger parts of your home, like your home systems and appliances, you can see what things Landmark does cover by comparing our home warranty plans here.

Plumbing Articles

Have a clogged sink or water heater that isn’t working? Check out our plumbing maintenance articles and infographics.

Subscribe to our Resources Newsletter

Don't miss out on our monthly newsletter! Sign up to get tips on everything about home ownership, from maintenance tips to home selling advice delivered to your email once a month.

Get a Free Home Warranty Quote!

Input your information and get a free, personalized home warranty quote. You can customize the coverage and pricing to fit your needs. Experience what over 70,000 homeowners already know: A Landmark Home Warranty helps provide protection for your home and budget!

Need help? Click here to chat!