How to Fix a Sink Pop Up Stopper

- Dec 13, 2017-

Water may leak or refuse to drain around a sink pop-up for a number of reasons. If your sink pop-up won't pop up or seat properly, fixing it is quite easy—usually just a matter of adjusting a few parts. The culprit is often a buildup of hair around the base of the stopper or the pivot rod mechanism. Or, the clevis may be out of adjustment (see illustration to identify the various parts).


Pushing the knob and the lift rod down causes the pivot rod to push the stopper up. Pulling the knob causes the pivot rod to pull the stopper down. If the stopper sits too high or not high enough in the drain, go under the sink with a flashlight and identify these parts, per the illustration here. Pinch the spring clip to release the flat bar (clevis) from the pivot rod. Then move the rod up or down into a different hole in the clevis and replace the spring clip.

In many sinks, hair and crud accumulates around the body of the stopper, clogging the drain. You have to extract the stopper to clean it. On some sinks, you may be able to pull it right out.  But it’s often necessary to work under the sink. You must remove the retaining nut (slip-joint pliers can help if it’s frozen shut) and pull out the pivot rod first. You may have to turn the stopper to unhook it from the pivot rod.

Here’s more detail on how to fix the problem:

1. With a slight twist, try to lift out the stopper. If it seems to be linked to the mechanism below, reach under the sink and unscrew the pivot rod retaining nut and pull out the pivot rod to disengage it. Use locking-jaw pliers to loosen it if necessary.


2.Lift the stopper from the drain. Clean off all hair and debris. If the stopper is broken or its seal looks worn, replace it.

3.Face the hole at the bottom of the stopper toward the pivot rod’s location, and drop the stopper back into the drain hole. Insert the pivot rod so that it engages the hole in the bottom of the stopper, and tighten on the retaining nut with the stopper in its up position. When the drain is closed, the pivot rod should slope slightly uphill from the clevis to the tailpiece.


4.Loosen the set screw on the clevis and adjust the strap up or down so that it operates the pivot rod to open and close the stopper. Retighten the set screw.

5.If adjusting the clevis screw doesn’t help, reset the pivot rod by squeezing the spring clip and freeing the pivot rod. Move the clip up to the next clevis hole and insert the rod. You may need to keep tweaking this a little to find the right hole on the clevis.

6.If water drips from around the pivot ball, tighten the retaining nut that holds the ball in place. You may also need to replace the gasket or washer (or both) inside the pivot ball-and-rod assembly.

Keeping drains clear of hair, soap and shampoo residue, and other debris is one of the best ways to help keep pop-up stoppers in good working order.