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:

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

My mom, she’s so cute, doesn’t she know that this sign taunted me the whole visit?

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

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.)

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

But not the real fix for a sink stopper that would not stay up.

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

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 WikiHow.com.

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

Materials:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Universal Pivot Ball Replacement Kit
Pliers (maybe)

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain Instructions:

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!)

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

2. Lay down some towels to cushion the edge of the vanity (or your back, rib cage or hips will be in screaming pain.)

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
8. Next thread the new gasket onto the horizontal rod and then the nut.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.)
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
10. Feed the (3) horizontal rod into the (1) down rod.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
12. Screw the nut back onto the drain making sure the ball joint and gasket are lined up properly.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
13. Now add the second stopper or the other end of the (2) joint clamp clip to the back of the (3) horizontal rod.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
14. Look inside the drain, and notice the post end of the (5) ball joint inside the drain.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink 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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
Gently rotate the stopper 90 degrees until the end of the stopper hooks the post.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
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.
Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain
Next time your drain stopper is broken, I hope you will put off calling a plumber and fix it yourself!
133 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Ary
    Ary says:

    Hi, thank you for this tutorial, it is very detailed. I was wondering if horizontal rods come in different sizes? I have already bought two kits, including the one you did the tutorial with, and am having a tough time inserting the horizontal bar up with ball joint into the hole at the back of the drain because the bar is much longer than the space between the wall and the drain. You mentioned possibly making minor adjustments to have the horizontal rod parallel to the floor, but what exactly does that mean? How do you recommend I do this without breaking the bar? Thank you for your help.

    Reply
  2. Janette Rochman
    Janette Rochman says:

    Hi there my boyfriend pulled out the sink plug not realizing your supposed to unhook the rod under the sink. Now when i put the plug in the rod is moving up and down but the plug won’t move or open. Any advice? My boyfriend and I are not good with this kind is stuff lol

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Ugh, it’s a real pain to reattach the drain plug. You might have to put on your patience cap and try to pry it up with a flat head screwdriver, then try to reattach it to the rod paying attention to the diagram in this post.

      Reply
  3. Grace M Joubarne
    Grace M Joubarne says:

    I used a small suction cup and got it off. I ordered the new part 2 weeks ago and should have it soon. I believe I should have no problems assembling it now.

    Many thanks for your excellent explanation. This has saved me hundreds of dollars and really stoked my confidence.

    Reply
  4. Grace
    Grace says:

    It all sounds great, however, I can’t get the plug out of the hole no matter what I do. I tried releasing the rod and ball from the lever and moving it up and down manually, but it still will l not move the plug up at all, not even enough to grab it with something and leave it out until I can do the rest.

    Reply
  5. Jennifer P
    Jennifer P says:

    Ugh, my ball d assembly kit did not come with a new washer!! I just assumed it would. Now I have to go to the store yet again!
    You would think the person helping me at the store could have asked if I needed a gasket. (They also could have pointed out thst i did not need to buy the pop up rod clips, since those cone washers were included in the kit.I did not realize that.)

    But, your tutorial is spot-on! Most helpful, thank you!!

    Reply
  6. Abigail
    Abigail says:

    If I just want to take out the stopper all together do I need a new pipe? Do I keep the “Ball, Rod, Nut & Gasket” in without the stopper or do I need something in its place to keep the water from spilling through?

    Reply
  7. Nora Bilbro
    Nora Bilbro says:

    Thank you for this excellent post. Found it when doing some research on how to fix my broken sink stopper and it gave me all the information and confidence to fix it myself!

    Reply
  8. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    Thank You! Thank You! I just repaired my sink using these instructions. My husband was shocked. I have always loved learning new tasks and I can add this one to the list. Keep up the good work you are doing to educate homeowners. Thank You!

    Reply
  9. Jen
    Jen says:

    Wow! After much frustration with other websites with no detailed diagrams or explanations, I found your site … best diagrams and explanations!!! am bookmarking your site. Keep up the super work … will be back for more help. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Robin
    Robin says:

    Thank you! The corroded pivot arm disintegrated when I was cleaning my sink the other day, so you and Ace saved my day. And I just noticed that your post was seven years ago to the day. So, Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  11. ERIN
    ERIN says:

    The plastic washer between the ball and nut wasn’t actually there when I took it apart, and I don’t know where to get one or what size it should be. Since it has worked for ten years without it, until the metal arm corroded (just like the one in your mom’s) I installed it without the washer, and it seems to work just fine! And tell your mom that most under-sinks look messy. Ours sure does!

    Reply
  12. Janet F.
    Janet F. says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! I took the nut and ball parts to Our local Ace. I bought the kit, noticing the balls were the same. I would advise anyone making this repair to keep the old parts until the job is a confirmed fix. When doing the repair, the nuts in the kit were not the right size. Thank goodness I hadn’t chucked the old parts. I used the old nut with the new ball/rod and it all worked beautifully. I put on my patience hat and tried hard to hook the stopper onto the ball end, but eventually gave up. It still stops and in-stops the sink. Actually, all four of our lav sinks do not have stoppers that are connected. I, too, do a lot of stuff around the house that people would normally think were man’s work. I don’t care, I have the capacity and the willingness. Thanks for being yourself. Janet in PA

    Reply
  13. Gillian
    Gillian says:

    For almost a year I’ve been without the stopper in the sink drain and went to get a sink strainer that didn’t fit. I came home and found this site and am so grateful to you! I finally fixed it! Tonight, in fact. I returned the sink strainer for the drain and got the correct ball rod. It wasn’t easy but I did it with some more finagling of the clevis (lol, just learned that term) and low and behold it’s fixed. I can’t thank you enough and I can’t wait to check out the rest of your site.

    Reply

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