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How to Remove A Bathtub Drain Flange

A do it yourself guide to removing your bathtub drain

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.

In four easy steps we will show you how to remove your old tub drain flange to get your bathtub looking it's best.
tub drain diagram
Click here for larger image
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 Tub Drain Removal Tool or Smart Dumbell Tub Drain Removal Tool
  • Screw Driver (may be needed to remove the stopper)
  • Wrench
  • Bucket or container

Remove the Drain Stopper:

toe touch tub stopper
Toe Touch
push pull tub stopper
Lift and Turn
pop up tub stopper
flip-it stopper
plunger style strainer
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.
For more information on how to remove your stopper, click here!

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

picture of a drain key tool tool for removing drains
Drain Key
picture of smart dumbell tool to remove drains
Smart Dumbell
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. Get more information on how these tools work and how to use them, here.

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.
Find out how to install your new drain here!

Click here to view items already in your shopping cart

Click on the links below to view some items mentioned in this article
waste and overflowComplete Waste and Overflow kits
Tub SpoutsDesigner Tub Spouts
tub drain partsBathtub Drains and Parts
drain toolsEasy to Use Drain Tools
clawfoot tub drainsClawfoot Tub Drains
shower drain coversShower Drains

Please note the information provided is intended to provide a basic knowledge of plumbing related repairs.
This information is general and may not suit all applications.
If you are at all unsure of your abilities to complete one of these projects, please consult a professional.

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