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How to Remove A Bathtub Drain Flange
A do it yourself guide to removing your bathtub drain

We also have a great tutorial on how to install a bathtub drain flange!

Before beginning please note: There are many variables to consider when it comes to different homes and plumbing applications. This how-to guide is intended to provide a basic understanding of how to remove a bath tub drain flange, and may not cover all circumstances. One important thing to know before attempting any DIY project in your home is the access points to your plumbing. You may find yourself unexpectedly needing to access your plumbing system. Most bathtubs will have an access panel behind the tub, or you may be able to access the plumbing through a crawl space in or under the home. Keep in mind, when attempting to complete a plumbing project yourself, it is possible to "open a can of worms" and you want to be prepared if your simple project suddenly gets out of hand.

tub drain diagram

In four easy steps we will show you how to remove your old tub drain flange to get your bathtub looking it's best.

Drain Flange
A bathtub drain flange is the finished drain part that is visible in the tub. Some manufacturers refer to the drain flange as a "drain body" or "drain basket". Drain flanges come in many different finishes and have a variety of stopper options. The drain flange is threaded into a piece called a drain shoe.
Drain Shoe
Underneath the tub drain flange will be a good amount of plumber's putty that seals the inside of the tub drain, and a rubber gasket underneath the tub that seals the drain flange to the tub. The tub drain flange screws into the drain shoe. The drain shoe connects to a length of pipe that then connects to your waste and overflow pipe.
Tools needed:
  • The Drain Key or Smart Dumbell tub drain removal tool (purchase here)
  • Screw driver (may be needed to remove the stopper)
  • Wrench
  • Bucket or container

Remove the Drain Stopper:

toe touch tub stopperToe Touch
push pull tub stopperPush-Pull or Lift and Turn
flip-it tub stopperFlip-It

pop up tub stopperPop-Up
trip lever style strainerTrip Lever or Plunger Style

There are a few different kinds of drain stoppers, all of which can be removed very easily. When you remove your old stopper you may pull up hair and/or other debris, so be sure to have a container or bucket handy to place your old dirty parts into since this can get messy. Learn how to remove your tub drain stopper.

Remove the Drain Flange:

this is a drain key used to remove drainsDrain Key
this is a smart dumbell used to remove drainsSmart Dumbell

To remove the tub's drain flange it is best to use a drain removal tool. The Drain Key or Smart Dumbell are designed specifically for this job. Using these tools helps to prevent any potential damage to the tub's enamel/finish. There are other ways to remove the drain flange, however those methods are likely to damage your tub (or your tools!).

  1. Insert the Drain Key or the Smart Dumbell into the drain.
  2. Following the instructions for the tool, turn counterclockwise.
  3. Keep turning drain counterclockwise until the old drain is released.
  4. Clean drain area, making sure to remove all old putty residue. Allow to dry before installing new drain.

Both the Drain Key and the Smart Dumbell essentially work the same; you insert them into the drain and turn counterclockwise to release the old tub drain. However, they are slightly different. For your convenience, we offer a complete tutorial for using these drain tools.

Some plumbers have suggested that if the drain is stubborn, and will not budge even with the proper tools, to try heating the flange with a hair dryer on high/hot. This may soften the plumber's putty that is sealing the drain flange to the tub. After a few minutes, the putty should be soft enough to try again.

With just a few turns, the old drain should come right out. With the tub drain flange removed, be sure to clean the area before installing your new drain. Guess what? We also have instructions for installing your new tub drain flange so you can finish your project all in one go!

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