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Tub Stopper Stumper

Hello, I hope you can help me. I have a Watco push-pull tub stopper and would like to clean out all the hair because it is running slow. How do I take it out? I know how to remove a regular pop up tub drain but this thing has got me. Any help is appreciated. 

Thank you.

Helen R.

There are some push-pull tub stoppers that simply unscrew. Try grabbing the body of the stopper (when it is UP) and turning counter-clockwise. I have never seen a tub stopper that wasn't removable from the tub side of the plumbing (i.e. you should never have to tear into the wall to remove a tub stopper). Stoppers need to be removable so a drain "snake" can be pushed down the drain. Therefore it stands to reason that there is an easy way to remove the stopper.

Also, you might find it simpler to use some serious drain cleaner to dissolve the hair clog. I use plain old crystal Drano. Just follow the instructions... a couple of tablespoons of Drano followed by a cup of cold water. A good idea is to cover the drain with an inverted plastic pail to keep the sputtering and bubbling Drano from splashing back.

There are also some serious professional-grade liquid drain openers, many of which are based on strong sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid will dissolve almost any organic matter such as hair, soap residue, mold and fungus... all of which are often the ingredients in a drain clog. BUT... these professional-grade products are VERY strong and must be used strictly according to their instructions. When I worked in hotel maintenance we used some pretty dramatic sulfuric acid drain opener products. There is a very real danger of splash-back caused by the heat generated from the chemical reactions. The water in the drain can literally boil as the acid is poured in, so with these products you MUST place a pail upside-down over the drain after you pour in the chemical.

Once the clog is removed and flushed with plenty of water, the acid becomes so diluted that it no longer poses a safety or health risk. I believe that the environmental risks associated with sulfuric-acid drain openers are minimal, because the diluted acid won't affect beneficial bacteriological action within septic tanks or wastewater treatment plants. There are chlorine-based products that probably kill off beneficial bacteria downstream.


Bruce W. Maki, Editor.


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Copyright 2001

Compiled March 5, 2001