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Removal of a Toe-Operated Tub Drain

Nathan McGinty

Toe-operated drains make it easy for anyone using the bathtub to easily open and shut the drain stopper. Removal of a toe-operated tub drain involves removing the stopper, which is the upper portion of the drain, and then removing the drain flange and body from the tub.

Stopper removal is fairly straightforward, but for removing the drain flange, your best bet is to rent or purchase a tool called a drain key to help make the job easier.

Toe-operated Drains

These drains are called "toe operated" or "toe tap" drains because they operate under the simple principle of push and lock. Pressing down on the drain stopper with your finger — or toe, hence the name — releases the stopper from the locked position and raises it into the open position. To close, the stopper is pressed down until it locks in place.

Toe Stopper Removal

Remove the stopper in a toe-operated drain by first pressing down on it — if it's closed — to extend it to the open position. Grasp the top of the stopper firmly and turn it counterclockwise until it comes out of the drain opening. If the top of the stopper comes loose while you are turning, don't panic, as the stopper can still be removed. Unscrew the top of the stopper to reveal a nut underneath. Grasp the nut with a wrench and continue turning it counterclockwise.

Drain Preparation

Clean out the inside of the drain once the stopper has been removed. This will give your tools a better grip. Pull out any hair or other debris that may be trapped inside, using your fingers or a pair of long needle-nose pliers. Use a bathroom cleaner and a rag to clean off mold, mildew or other growths from around the drain opening.

Drain Removal

Insert a drain removal tool into the drain opening. There are two major types of drain removal tools, also called drain keys. In the first type, insert the key into the drain and rotate the key until you feel it lock into the tines below. Other drain keys are first inserted into the drain, and then a handle is twisted to open the jaws at the bottom to lock them in place in the drain. Once the key is secure, grasp the end with a heavy wrench and turn it counterclockwise until the drain begins to unseat. Continue turning until the drain comes out of the bottom of the tub.