Bathtub Drain Won’t Stay Open: 5 Effective Fixes for a Clogged Drain

If your bathtub drain won’t stay open, try replacing the drain stopper or adjusting the trip lever. You can find DIY solutions and tutorials online that can help you fix the problem.

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Understanding The Issue

Signs of a Clogged Drain

Identifying the signs of a clogged drain is crucial in understanding why your bathtub drain won’t stay open. Look out for the following indicators:

  • Water draining slowly or not draining at all when the bathtub is in use
  • Pooling water around the drain
  • Unpleasant odors coming from the drain
  • Gurgling sounds when the water is draining

Common Causes of a Bathtub Drain Not Staying Open

There are several factors that can contribute to a bathtub drain not staying open. Some common causes include:

  • Hair and soap buildup: Over time, hair and soap residue can accumulate in the drain, causing it to clog and prevent proper drainage.
  • Foreign objects: Objects such as small toys, jewelry, or excessive amounts of toilet paper can accidentally fall into the drain and obstruct the flow of water.
  • Tree roots: In some cases, tree roots can infiltrate the sewer lines, causing blockages that affect multiple drains in the house.
  • Mineral deposits: Hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up inside the pipes, reducing the diameter and impeding water flow.

Importance of Addressing the Issue Promptly

Dealing with a bathtub drain that won’t stay open might seem like a minor inconvenience, but it is important to address the issue promptly. Ignoring the problem can lead to more serious consequences, such as:

  • Worsening of the clog: A clogged drain can escalate if not cleared in a timely manner, causing complete blockage and rendering the bathtub unusable.
  • Water damage: Excess water unable to drain properly can leak into the surrounding areas, causing water damage to the flooring, walls, and any belongings nearby.
  • Health hazards: Stagnant water can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, potentially posing health risks to you and your family.
  • Increased repair costs: Delaying the necessary repairs can result in more extensive damage, requiring costly professional intervention to resolve the issue.

Understanding the signs, causes, and importance of addressing the issue promptly will help you take the necessary steps to resolve a bathtub drain that won’t stay open. In the next section, we will discuss potential solutions and DIY fixes to help you regain proper drainage in your bathtub.

Fix 1: Clearing Blockages With Boiling Water

How to use boiling water to unclog a bathtub drain

When it comes to fixing a bathtub drain that won’t stay open, one effective solution is to use boiling water. This simple and natural method can help clear blockages and keep your bathtub draining smoothly. Here’s how you can use boiling water to unclog your bathtub drain:

  1. Start by boiling a pot of water. Make sure you have enough water to completely cover the drain.
  2. Carefully pour the boiling water down the bathtub drain.
  3. Allow the boiling water to sit in the drain for a few minutes.
  4. Flush the drain with hot water to help remove any remaining debris.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.

Precautions to take when using boiling water

While using boiling water can be an effective way to clear blockages in your bathtub drain, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your safety:

  • Be cautious when handling boiling water to prevent burns. Use heat-resistant gloves or oven mitts if needed.
  • Do not pour boiling water directly on porcelain or enamel surfaces, as it can cause cracking or damage.
  • Avoid using boiling water if you have PVC pipes, as they can be sensitive to high temperatures.
  • Always pour the boiling water slowly to prevent splashing or spilling.

Tips for preventing future clogs

After successfully unclogging your bathtub drain using boiling water, it’s essential to take preventive measures to avoid future clogs:

  1. Use a drain strainer or screen to catch hair, debris, and other particles that can clog the drain.
  2. Regularly clean the drain strainer or screen to prevent buildup.
  3. Avoid pouring grease, oil, or food scraps down the drain.
  4. Rinse the drain with hot water on a regular basis to help flush away any small debris.
  5. Consider using a drain cleaning solution or enzymatic cleaner periodically to keep the drain clear.

By following these precautions and tips, you can keep your bathtub drain running smoothly and minimize the occurrence of clogs. Remember to consult a professional plumber if the clog persists or if you encounter any major plumbing issues.

Fix 2: Using A Plunger To Remove Blockages

When it comes to tackling a stubborn bathtub drain that won’t stay open, using a plunger can be a highly effective solution. Plungers work by creating pressure that helps dislodge blockages, allowing the water to flow freely down the drain again. To properly use a plunger on a bathtub drain, follow these steps:

How to properly use a plunger on a bathtub drain

  1. Start by filling the bathtub with enough water to cover the rubber suction cup of the plunger.
  2. Place the plunger directly over the drain, ensuring a tight seal between the suction cup and the bathtub surface.
  3. Gently push the plunger up and down, maintaining a consistent and steady motion.
  4. After a few plunges, quickly pull the plunger upward while maintaining a tight seal with the drain. This action helps to remove the blockage.
  5. Repeat the plunging process several times until you feel the water draining freely down the drain.

Different types of plungers and their effectiveness

There are several types of plungers available in the market, each designed for specific purposes. When it comes to unclogging a bathtub drain, the most effective type of plunger is a cup plunger or sink plunger. These plungers have a flat suction cup that provides good coverage for the drain and creates a strong seal.

It is important to choose a plunger that is specifically designed for sink or bathtub drains, as toilet plungers have a different shape and won’t provide effective results.

Additional tips for maximizing plunger effectiveness

  • Ensure that the plunger is fully submerged in water for better suction.
  • If the drain is partially blocked, remove any visible debris or hair before using the plunger.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger’s suction cup to improve the seal.
  • Plunge vigorously and consistently to create enough pressure to dislodge the blockage.
  • Repeat the plunging process multiple times if necessary, until the drain starts to flow freely.

By properly using a plunger and following these additional tips, you can overcome the frustration of a bathtub drain that won’t stay open. Remember to use a plunger specifically designed for sinks or bathtubs and create a strong seal by plunging confidently and consistently.

Fix 3: Removing And Cleaning The Drain Stopper

Is your bathtub drain not staying open? One of the common reasons for this problem could be a clogged or faulty drain stopper. By removing and cleaning the drain stopper, you can fix the issue and ensure smooth drainage. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of removing the drain stopper, proper cleaning techniques for different types of drain stoppers, and how to reinstall it properly.

Step-by-step guide to removing a drain stopper

  1. First, locate the drain stopper. Depending on the type of drain stopper you have, it may be connected to a trip lever, a lift-and-turn mechanism, or a pop-up assembly.
  2. If your drain stopper is connected to a trip lever, start by removing the trip lever plate. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the screws securing the plate to the overflow opening.
  3. Once the trip lever plate is removed, you can access the drain stopper. You may need to unscrew it counterclockwise or pull it up to detach it from the drain.
  4. If your drain stopper is a lift-and-turn or pop-up assembly, you will need to unscrew or lift the stopper to remove it from the drain.

Proper cleaning techniques for different types of drain stoppers

Depending on the type of drain stopper, you will need to clean it using the appropriate technique. Here’s how to clean different types of drain stoppers:

Trip lever drain stopper:

  1. Start by removing any debris or hair entangled around the drain stopper. You can use a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers to carefully pull out the blockage.
  2. Next, prepare a mixture of warm water and mild soap. Dip a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush into the soapy water and scrub the drain stopper to remove any accumulated grime or residue.
  3. Rinse the drain stopper thoroughly with clean water and wipe it dry with a clean cloth before reinstalling.

Lift-and-turn or pop-up drain stopper:

  1. Similar to a trip lever drain stopper, start by removing any debris or hair from the drain stopper.
  2. Once the blockage is cleared, use a mixture of warm water and mild soap to clean the drain stopper. You can soak it for a few minutes before scrubbing it with a soft brush or toothbrush.
  3. Rinse off the soap residue with clean water and dry the drain stopper thoroughly before reinstalling.

Reinstalling the drain stopper properly

After cleaning the drain stopper, it’s essential to reinstall it properly to ensure it stays open and allows water to drain effectively. Here’s how to reinstall the drain stopper:

  1. Carefully place the cleaned drain stopper back into the drain opening.
  2. If it’s a trip lever drain stopper, align the trip lever or linkage mechanism correctly and secure it by tightening the screws on the trip lever plate.
  3. If it’s a lift-and-turn or pop-up drain stopper, position it in the open position and screw or lower it back into the drain.

By following these steps, you can remove, clean, and reinstall the drain stopper properly, ensuring it stays open and allows water to drain smoothly in your bathtub.

Fix 4: Using Diy Natural Drain Cleaners

If your bathtub drain won’t stay open, you can try using DIY natural drain cleaners to dissolve or break down blockages. These homemade drain cleaner recipes are not only effective but also safe for you and the environment.

Homemade drain cleaner recipes

There are several different ingredients you can use to create your own natural drain cleaners. Here are a few recipes you can try:

  • Baking soda and vinegar: Mix equal parts of baking soda and vinegar to create a fizzy mixture. Pour it down the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing with hot water.
  • Baking soda and salt: Combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of salt. Pour the mixture down the drain and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Rinse with hot water.
  • Lemon juice and baking soda: Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of baking soda. Mix well and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

How different ingredients can help dissolve or break down blockages

Each ingredient in these DIY drain cleaners has its own unique properties that can help dissolve or break down blockages in your bathtub drain.

Ingredient Properties
Baking soda Acts as a scrubbing agent, helping to remove grease, grime, and odors from your drain
Vinegar Creates a chemical reaction with baking soda, producing a fizzing action that helps to dislodge and break down clogs
Salt Has abrasive properties, aiding in the removal of tough clogs and mineral deposits
Lemon juice Contains citric acid, which can help dissolve organic matter and eliminate unpleasant odors

Safety precautions when handling DIY drain cleaners

While natural drain cleaners are generally safe to use, it is important to take certain safety precautions to protect yourself and your surroundings. Here are a few tips:

  1. Wear protective gloves to prevent any skin irritation or contact with the cleaning solution.
  2. Avoid mixing different ingredients, as they might react unpredictably.
  3. Never use natural drain cleaners immediately after using chemical drain cleaners, as the combination of different chemicals can be hazardous.
  4. Only use these DIY drain cleaners in well-ventilated areas to avoid inhaling any fumes.
  5. If the clog persists or worsens, it is recommended to seek professional help.

By following these safety precautions, you can effectively use DIY natural drain cleaners to unclog your bathtub drain and ensure it stays open.

Fix 5: Seeking Professional Help

Fix 5: Seeking Professional Help

Signs that the clog requires professional assistance

If you have tried various DIY solutions and your bathtub drain still won’t stay open, it may be time to seek professional help. Here are some signs that indicate the clog requires the expertise of a plumber:

  • Water is not draining at all, or it is draining very slowly.
  • You have used chemical drain cleaners, but they haven’t solved the problem.
  • You have attempted to remove visible debris or hair from the drain, but the issue persists.
  • The clog keeps recurring despite your attempts to clear it.
  • You are experiencing unusual gurgling or bubbling sounds when water is draining.

Benefits of hiring a plumber for a clogged bathtub drain

Sometimes, it’s best to leave the task of unclogging a bathtub drain to a professional plumber. Here are the benefits of hiring a plumber:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Plumbers have the necessary knowledge and experience to identify the underlying cause of the clog and determine the most effective solution.
  2. Proper Tools and Equipment: Plumbers have specialized tools and equipment that can effectively clear stubborn clogs without causing damage to your plumbing system.
  3. Time and Cost Savings: Hiring a plumber can save you time and money in the long run. They can quickly and efficiently unclog the drain, preventing further damage and avoiding costly repairs.
  4. Professional Advice: Plumbers can provide valuable advice on how to prevent future clogs and maintain a healthy plumbing system.

How professionals can prevent future drain issues

Professional plumbers not only solve current drain issues, but they can also help prevent future problems. Here’s how:

  • They can perform thorough inspections to identify any underlying problems that may lead to future drain issues.
  • They can provide regular maintenance services to keep your drains clean and free of debris.
  • They can offer guidance on proper plumbing practices, such as avoiding flushing inappropriate items down the drain.
  • They can install drain screens or strainers to catch hair and debris before it enters the drain, preventing clogs.
  • They can recommend and install high-quality drain products that are less prone to clogging.

Frequently Asked Questions On Bathtub Drain Won’T Stay Open

How Do You Fix A Drain That Won’T Stay Up?

To fix a drain that won’t stay up, you can try the following steps: 1. Examine the trip lever and adjust the drain stopper. 2. Remove the trip lever plate and adjust the trip lever. 3. Loosen the lock nut and test your work.

4. If these steps don’t work, consider replacing the tub drain lever or the tub drain linkage assembly. Remember to always consult a professional if needed.

How Do I Keep My Bathtub Drain Down?

To keep your bathtub drain down, follow these steps: – Twist a wet washcloth tightly or wet a rolled-up sponge to fit the drain. – Place the cloth or sponge inside a plastic sandwich bag and zip it closed or secure it with a rubber band.

– Stuff the bag into the drain to keep it down. This method blocks the drain without a plug and prevents water from flowing out.

How Do I Keep My Shower Drain Open?

To keep your shower drain open, try these tips: 1. Use a drain screen or tub strainer to catch loose hairs. 2. Brush your hair before showering to minimize hair fall. 3. Pour hot water down the drain once a week to prevent build-up.

4. If your drain has a lever, make sure it is properly adjusted and tightened. Following these steps will help ensure your shower drain remains open.


Dealing with a bathtub drain that won’t stay open can be a frustrating issue to tackle. However, there are several DIY solutions available to fix this problem. One option is to replace the trip lever or tub drain linkage assembly, which may be broken or not functioning properly.

Another option is to use a twist-tie, wet washcloth, or sponge to block the drain temporarily. Additionally, installing a drain screen or tub strainer can help catch loose hairs and prevent clogs in the future. Boiling water can also be poured down the drain regularly to prevent blockages.

By following these simple techniques, you can ensure that your bathtub drain stays open and the water drains efficiently. Don’t let a malfunctioning drain ruin your bathing experience, take action and fix the issue today.

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