A pop-up stopper is fairly self-explanatory—it pops up and down to open or close the drain in a sink or tub.

There are many reasons why you want to be able to remove and adjust the pop-up stopper in your sink:

  • Bad fit or faulty seal (adjustment)
  • Broken piece or component (replacement)
  • Sluggish drain or blockage (drain cleaning)
  • Gunk and smell (cleaning and maintenance)

When your stopper isn’t opening or closing properly, you will need to remove and inspect it. For instance, a stopper mechanism that doesn’t open far enough may be contributing to your sluggish drain. Knowing how to remove your pop-up stopper is also necessary when there is a major clog requiring clearing.

Most sink stoppers are attached to a pivot rod. Some stoppers can simply be lifted out. If you cannot lift the stopper straight out, try giving it a slight twist to free it from the rod. If you cannot lift or twist it out, it may be attached to the pivot rod. In this case, follow the steps below:

1. How to Adjust a Pop-Up Stopper 

If all you need to do is adjust your stopper because it is too tight or too loose, you don’t have to remove the stopper. All you’ll need to do is get under the sink and adjust the pivot rod by squeezing the spring clip and inserting the pivot rod into the next highest hole. Raise or lower it hole by hole until you reach the perfect adjustment.

If the stopper still won’t sit correctly, try loosening the clevis screw and adjusting the lift rod.

Still, it’s a good idea to regularly remove and clean the pop-up stopper. The sluggishness could also be caused by hair and gunk trapped in the pipes and stopper mechanism.

2. How to Remove the Sink Pop-Up Stopper 

Consider putting on rubber gloves for this. You may also need a flashlight. If you need to remove the sink stopper to clear a drain, wear gloves and be prepared for a messy and smelly experience.

First, remove everything from underneath the sink so you have room to work.
Next, place a bucket or some kind of container underneath the piping right beneath the sink.
Then, raise the lift rod so the stopper closes all the way to form a tight seal.
Get underneath the sink and look where your pivot rod is connected to the clevis strap. Disconnect the pivot rod from the clevis strap by squeezing the two end of the spring clip together and sliding it out. If you cannot do it with your hands, use a pair of pliers.
Once the pivot rod is disconnected, you can free the pivot rod from the stopper by hand. Make sure a basin is beneath the pipes so water doesn’t go everywhere when you remove the ball seal.
Now that the pivot rod is unhooked from the stopper, you should be free to pull it out.

Warning: Do not turn the water on! With the stopper and pivot rod removed, water will flow out of the hole and all over the place. If you want to clean the stopper mechanism or pivot rod, use a different sink.

3. How to Clean the Stopper Mechanism and Pivot Rod

This is where is gets gross, so make sure you have your rubber gloves on. With the stopper loosened, you can pull it out of the sink drain. This is where you need to clean the stopper mechanism of all dirt, hair, and debris.

Again, do NOT turn on your bathroom sink to do this! If you need water, use a different sink to clean the stopper. Bleach and rubbing alcohol should help.

4. How to Clear the Blockage

After cleaning your pop-up stopper in a different sink, use a bent wire hanger to clear any hair and gunk out of the pipes. Lower the hook-shaped wire into the drain and rotate it until you feel something on the end. Then pull up and use gloved hands to throw away anything you pull up. You can also pull hair and other blockages through the pivot rod hole.

Use an old toothbrush to clean the inside of the pipe and around the drain. If using a hanger doesn’t clear the clog, you may need to remove the P-trap from under the sink and hand-clean it.

5. How to Replace the Sink Pop-Up Assembly

If any of the components of your pop-up mechanism are broken or otherwise need replacing, it’s an easy job you can do yourself.

  • Remove the stopper
  • Unscrew the clevis screw.
  • Squeeze the spring clip and release the clevis strap from the pivot rod.
  • Take off the spring clip completely. If you are reusing the clevis strap and pop-up rod, leave them hanging.
  • Twist off the gasket or retaining nut that holds the pivot rod in the drain.
  • If you want to clean the pivot rod, do it in a different sink.
  • If you are replacing the pivot rod, bring the old pivot rod with you to the hardware store in order to sleeve the correct seal ball size and rod length.
  • Insert the new or clean pivot rod back into the drain.
  • Likewise, insert the new or clean drain stopper.
  • When you insert the pivot rod, make sure it catches the hole at the bottom the stopper by manually moving it up and down. When you move the pivot rod with your hand, the stopper mechanism should also move up and down. If not, continue to fiddle with it until the pivot rod is in.
  • Screw the pivot rod gasket/nut back on.
  • Insert the pivot rod into the same hole of the clevis strap as before. Or, if you need to adjust, change holes one by one until you have the perfect height.

Great job! You just disassembled and replaced a sink pop-up stopper!

If you encounter any troubles or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact OnTime Service.


Call OnTime Service at (205) 872-1944 or contact us online to schedule your next HVAC, electrical, or plumbing appointment.

Our experienced team of technicians is fully trained to handle any plumbing system. As always, we will troubleshoot your home and give you straightforward pricing options before any work begins.

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