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
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  1. heather
    heather says:

    You saved me!!!! Thank you sooooooooo much for the awesome pictures, so that I knew exactly what the heck I was looking at and what does what!!! You are a-ma-zing!!! Thank you, truly… Saved me a lot of explaining and now it works better than it did before… THANK YOU!!!

    Reply
  2. mark landau
    mark landau says:

    Great explanation and diagrams. The only problem/question I had was how should the ball be attached to the rod? I used the same kit as you did. The ball would not really screw onto the rod. I ended up gently tapping the ball piece onto the rod with a hammer.

    Reply
  3. Mae
    Mae says:

    Well, my stopper was stuck down so it wouldn’t drain. The kit I bought apparently won’t work on this because it’s a Moen brand. So…I have to order the part (the universal Danco doesn’t seem to work). In the process of your directions I at least got the stopper up…but my lift rod won’t stay up to plug the sink. What am I doing wrong? I have the clamp kind versus plastic washers. Thanks….I feel incredibly empowered doing these repairs when hubby is off at work!

    Reply
  4. Wilbur
    Wilbur says:

    I just found out that one of the sinks in our master bath had a similar problem. Is it common for the pivot rod to break as yours (and apparently mine) did? Do you think it is necessary to see if the broken piece is still in the trap?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Sharon Bryant
    Sharon Bryant says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. This was the kind of day when one problem led to another and unfortunately when it came to the sink stopper I was at a loss as to what to do AND I refused to wake my napping husband to only have him grumble and complain. It took me a few attempts, and I was close to being in tears…but persistence paid off and I did it! YEA!!!!

    Reply
  6. kit10phish
    kit10phish says:

    OK, I know you asked for encouraging words regarding your mom’s under sink situation–but it distracted me so much I couldn’t read the rest of the article! I want to help her, and I’m not sure if anyone suggested it yet, but shoe box-sized rubbermaids will make a world of difference under there. They stack nicely, close out water or dust, and you can organize ‘like’ items (sunscreens in 1, meds in another, hair products, etc. . .). Another easy fix! Now I can concentrate on the article and fix my sink–thanks so much for a jargon-free tutorial.

    Reply
  7. Montecasso
    Montecasso says:

    Been bugging me for months pop-up closing when basin half empty
    Took 5 minutes to fix!
    Took 25 minutes to get a 78 year old body into and out of confined space!
    Excellent info
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. betty
    betty says:

    I have a vessel sink with a soft pop up drain. There are no rods, etc. It is stuck in the down position. How do I open it? Thanks

    Reply
  9. Jennifer Wilson
    Jennifer Wilson says:

    I have replaced everything that can be replaced, but my stopper still will not go up all the way. If I turn it to the right a quarter of in inch, once it is up, it will sort of lock in place and stay. But if it gets hit, it goes back down to only giving me about a centimeter opening, which doesn’t allow for water to drain appropriately. I have tried moving the location of the pull up and down the rod and about everything else I can think of, to no avail. Do you have any suggestions? Also, it doesn’t give me a very good seal when it closes either, unless I give it a little push to close it the rest of the way.

    Reply
  10. Timbo
    Timbo says:

    Great job. I really like the pictures, and drawing, along with the easy to understand steps on how to do this.

    Reply
  11. Donna
    Donna says:

    Just replaced my stopper today after reading your blog for the last week. I would like to say it was easy but I had a hard time unscrewing the cap to get the old stopped out. I finally did but it wasn’t easy. I bought the same kit you did. But I needed new washers. Very difficult to find. Big box store didn’t have it. I went to the local hardware store, and they had a better kit with washers and 2 stopppers attached to the rods, and 2 different screw caps. Finally worked w the new kit. Although I had to figure the washers myself. I think I did it right. Your pictures were helpful. Thank you pretty handy girl!

    Reply

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