Bathtub drains occasionally need to be replaced, and drains with the built in stoppers are the ones that usually have problems. These will with time become harder to use and will slowly allow water to leak while the tub is supposed to be plugged, as well as hold water when they are supposed to drain. These are the reasons that you cannot properly rinse off your ankles in the shower in many cases. In time your bathtub drain stopper mechanism will need to be repaired or replaced. This is actually a minor repair that most do-it-yourselfers are willing and able to tackle. You will need to have on hand some plumber's putty, channel locks (or other wrench), a Philips screwdriver, and the replacement part for the bathtub drain you are replacing as well as a few cleaning rags.
Start by removing the old bathtub drain plug mechanism. This has a face plate in the tub which has two screws attaching it to the tub. Once you remove the cover plate you will gain access to the rest of the assembly. Simply grasp it and remove through the hole it was installed in.
If you have any broken pieces you have a couple choices; if you have access to the other side of the wall the easiest thing to do is open the wet wall panel and make the repair in the open space but this is usually not an option. The most likely scenario is you are going to have to fish out the parts in a very small amount of space. A piece of wire, or a wire hanger, straightened into a hook works well.
Once you have fished out all of the old pieces you merely need to clean up, and reassemble and reinstall the pieces. Often you can repair this type of draining mechanism without having to replace any of the parts by simply cleaning it up and putting it back together correctly.
For those drains that do need to be replaced you need make sure your new parts are the same as the old parts were. Changing to different sized parts when you are working with plumbing is not a good idea, unless you like having your home flooded.
Test the parts, make sure everything is in good working order. If the stopper fits in and plugs the pipe properly you are ready to install the bathtub drain stopper. If not you need to get the right equipment first.
Plumbers putty should be used on all of the pipes and flanges where they attach to one another to make sure they seal well. The mechanism that lifts and lowers the stopper needs to be attached to the overflow plate. Before you seal the plate down make sure the stopper is working properly by testing it. If the tub is holding water and draining the water back out at appropriate times you are ready to seal the plate down.
You need to smear some plumbers putty on the plate and then put it in place and screw it down. You can then clean up any excess plumber's putty. Make sure that you haven't covered the overflow vent and you are finished. Your bathtub drain should work as good as new.
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