Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fixing the Tub Without a Plumber

"Honey, I have some more bad news".

I hate hearing this from my husband. It usually means that something else in our house is broken.

Lately, we have been having a run of bad house luck. A toilet broke and had to be replaced. The downstairs bathroom floor has cracked and is coming up. My husband tripped while painting the upstairs hall, knocked over the ladder, and shattered the window.

We're bleeding cash.

This time, husband held up the little lever that drains the tub. It had been sticking for a while, and finally snapped right off instead of budging. Great.

Husband was all for calling a plumber. I was all for searching the internet. It turns out I could get the parts at Lowe's and probably do this myself. It's worth a try.

Plumbers are EXPENSIVE, and I will only call one under duress.

(Yeah, I know. This blog is starting to look like a Lowe's commercial, but I swear I am not paid a dime by them.) (Not that I would mind if they wanted to pay me.) (Actually, I think I'd rather enjoy it.) (*hint hint*)
The nice man covering the plumbing department showed me what I would need. Apparently I needed more than just the little lever thing. Likely, the sticking problem was cause by some blockage down by the drain, so I should replace that, too.

Sure. Okay. So long as there are instructions on the package.

I don't have a true before picture, as husband took it apart before I could get up there and start snapping. The above picture is the removed overflow plate and lever behind it.

Notice that the tub is still full? Yeah. That's because the trip lever broke before the drain opened. I grabbed the lever with pliers and pulled upward, disengaging the plug. The water was able to drain out and I could work.

I don't have pictures of the next part (where I removed the drain) as I was struggling and frustrated, but I can tell you how to do it.

1) Remove the screw holding the drain plate in place.
2) Underneath you will see is sort of cross (either metal or plastic) in the drain.
3) Put the handles of a pair of pliers in the cross, then twist to remove it.

Note: My plier's handles weren't narrow enough. I used the tips of the pliers instead.

So I just pull up this drain piece to look for what's blocking it...

I feel dirty even looking at this - like a need a bath. But clearly, after seeing this, I can never trust the bathtub again. Ever.

Drama aside...

4) Throw out the scary drain.
5) Thread the brand new shiny one in it's place.
6) Put some plumber's putty around the outside rim
7) Screw down the new drain plate.
The next section was the part I probably should have done first, namely replacing the overflow plate and trip lever. I put it off because the cotter pin holding the old lever on was seriously corroded and hard to remove. Eventually it required a wire cutter and pliers. I cut off one end, then used the pliers on the other end to pull the pin out. This released the broken trip lever so I could install the new one. The new kit included screws for the plate and a sparkly new cotter pin.

The cotter pin attaches the back of the new trip lever to the piece coming out of the wall, and the screws attach the new overflow plate.

Actually, it was a much easier fix than I thought. Doesn't it look beautiful?

Kit cost = $30
Plummer's putty = $2
Total (after tax) = Around $35

Tell me. Have you ever spend only $35 on a plumber's visit? No? Didn't think so.

http://www.thethriftyhome.comPhotobucketThe Shabby Nest


  1. This is awesome! I too have tacked doing my own plumbing and although it's gross, it's actually not as hard as you'd expect. Good job!
    Check out my blog Musings of an Imperfect Mom

  2. What a sight indeed that was, Amy! It’s good that you were able to pull it off. :) Kudos for a job well done, and for big savings, too! However, to prevent your drains from clogging, it’s good to consider a weekly do-it-yourself maintenance. For example, pouring boiling hot water every week through the drain, may help in dissolving the clog.

    Darryl Iorio

    1. @ Darryl: What a sight that was, indeed. But, I'll just say something about pouring boiling water into the drain. Yup, it's a good way to flush out those unwanted things inside the pipes. However, you should NOT do this during the winter season, as the pipes are frozen and if you pour boiling water in it, the pipes might burst and it may cause you too much trouble in the end.

  3. Really- very important tips about Fixing the Tub Without a Plumber ...........
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  4. There are certain plumbing problem that we can do ourselves but there are also that really needs a plumber, it's a good thing though that you didn't need one in this case....good job!!

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  6. Great tip with great work. It helps in reducing cost. Thanks for the article. I appreciate your post and work.
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  7. Wow! It is impressive that you were able to fix the plumbing problem you had with your bathtub. That set of skills can definitely save a lot of money in terms of plumbing maintenance. The bath tub drain does look good after you fixed it. Well, the best thing to do now is to keep a close eye on it and make sure it doesn’t break or leak!

  8. Every time there is a problem in the house, your husband and your kids will normally run to you. I guess that’s just part of being a mother. It’s like they always see you as the go-to person, and they expect you to always have a solution to any problem. :) Well, you just proved that by fixing your bathtub yourself! Great job!

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