The pop-up drain stopper for my sink is stuck

old ugly sink image by Tomasz Stelmach from

A pop-up drain stopper is vulnerable to foreign objects becoming stuck in it, which hinders the stopper from raising or seating properly. It's very frustrating when the stopper is unable to be lifted, not allowing water to flow down the drain, or won't lower to allow water to stay inside the sink. However, with an understanding of how the pop-up assembly operates, repairing this situation should be an easy fix for most homeowners.

Understanding the Pop-up Assembly

The stopper in the sink drain and the lift rod on the sink faucet are the visible components of the pop-up assembly. The remaining parts are underneath the sink. There, the lift rod attaches to a strap that has a row of holes in it, called a clevis. The pivot rod is stuck through one of the lower holes in the clevis and held in place by a spring clip. The other end of the pivot rod goes into the rear of the drain tailpiece, where it connects into the stopper.

Foreign Material Causes

The pop-up stopper gets stuck in one position when objects that go down the drain become lodged or wrapped around the stopper body. These objects impede the movement of the pivot rod inside the drain below. The culprits behind this occurrence are most commonly built-up hair and soap scum. When this happens, the solution is to remove the hair or other build-up from around the stopper or the end of the pivot rod.

Mechanical Causes

If any of the connections of the pop-up assembly become unattached or are not properly assembled, the stopper will not raise and lower properly. To remedy this, venture beneath the sink and observe the pop-up assembly. The retaining nut that holds the pivot rod in place inside the drain tailpiece may be loose and need tightening or, inside the drain, the pivot rod end may be disconnected from the stopper. Alternatively, the spring clip may be unattached, allowing the clevis to slide off the pivot rod.

Replacing The Stopper

If the pivot rod is unable to engage the pop-up stopper because of damage to the bottom of the stopper, replace the stopper. When you install the new stopper, drop it into the drain so that the hole in the bottom of the stopper body faces the rear of the sink and the drain. This allows the end of the pivot rod to be stuck through the hole to properly engage the stopper.

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