If there is less bathwater a few minutes later than it was when you filled the tub, your drain stopper is not operating as it should. But before you toss out the old drain stopper, learn the types of bathtub drain stoppers available. Since you will be responsible for installing, maintaining, cleaning, and using it each day, even if you need a plumber's assistance, a little research goes a long way.
This article will offer a detailed overview of the seven bathtub drain stopper types so you can decide which one is right for you. In addition to cost, look for ease of use, ease of installation, low maintenance, and few repair costs.
1. Push and Pull
The first of seven bathtub drain stopper types is the push and pull version. The push-pull bathtub stopper has a simple design: a knob on top of a cap wide enough to cover the drain. To add water to the tub, push the stopper closed. To release water, pull it open.
Installation is straightforward. Screw the stopper’s set screw into the drain crossbar's center hole, but not too tight (it can get stuck). To clean the tub stopper, unscrew the stopper to clean and reattach it to the drain crossbar hole.
While the push and pull requires minimal maintenance and repair initially, it wears out gradually due to the repetitive nature of opening and closing the drain the same way.
2. Lift and Turn
On the surface, the stopper is a mirror image of the push and pull stopper. Instead of pushing it up and down, you twist it like a doorknob. Twist it in one direction until it opens to release water, and reverse the direction until it locks in place to close the drain and fill the tub with water.
The rubber seal blocks water from entering and allows water to pass. Installation and maintenance/repair are the same as a push and pull stopper. Plus, this bathtub drain stopper type is easy to clean. Just follow guidelines from push and pull stoppers for removal.
However, over time the lift and turn stopper, or twist and pull, can become worn out due to repetitive use and the metal components rusting out, similar to the photograph above. The push and pull stopper has a similar issue.
3. Toe Touch
The bathtub drain stopper type has a round button on top with a rubber seal bottom and a spring on the end. Also called the toe tap, the toe touch stopper is spring-loaded and acts similar to the previous two types.
By pushing the toe touch stopper down with your toe, you close the stopper so the rubber seal keeps bathwater from draining. Touch the stopper again and the spring pops the stopper open. The open position empties the water after use.
Unlike the other two, it requires little maintenance. However, the springs wear out with continued use, and it will require a spring replacement or new installation. The rubber seal also wears out over time, so it’ll also need to be replaced. Installation and cleaning call for the same screw-in-the-drain method as the push-and-pull and the lift-and-turn.
4. Pop Up
This bathtub drain stopper type mixes the appearance of the toe touch with the operation of the trip levern. There's an overflow plate, a connecting rod, and a rocker arm involved in the installation process, so let a plumber install the device.
Move the lever down to seal the drain so you can fill the bathtub with water. A rod on the inside connects the lever to the rocker arm, which closes the stopper. Move it upward to allow water to escape into the pipes.
However, be careful about repairs. Damaging the rocker arm may mean you need to replace the entire system. Additionally, its design makes it susceptible to hair and dirt clogs. Therefore, you’ll need a plumbing expert to clean the pop-up drain and device.
5. Trip Lever
This the second of two bathtub drain stopper types that use a lever to open and close without removal. Also called the flip lever, the trip lever contains a lever device in the center with a hole on the left and right sides of the lever, somewhat resembling a strainer. There's also a long connector and a heavy, cylinder-shaped component. You need a plumber to help with installation because of the intricate details involved.
This stopper operates similarly to the pop up lever. Move the lever down, and the cylinder moves inside the pipe to keep water from leaving the tub. Move the lever upward, and the cylinder moves out of the pipe to allow water to escape through the drain opening.
The downside? This isn’t easy to remove for cleaning, as it takes a bit of work unscrewing the lever plate and removing the connector and cylinder device out of the drain. Therefore, you might need to call a plumber to clean the stopper. Without cleaning, hair clogs in the drain may block the cylinder from entering the pipe, hence not being unable to add bathwater to the tub.
A second type of trip lever has a twist cover instead of a lever drain stopper. Just twist the cover in one direction to seal the drain for bathwater filling. Twist the cover in the opposite direction to open the drain and let water flow down the pipes.
6. Flip It
The next bathtub drain stopper type is the Flip It stopper. To install the Flip It stopper, push the stopper into the drain and leave it there. Use the O-rings to keep the stopper steady in the drain.
This stopper has a toggle lever on top. Move the lever in one direction to let the water fill the tub. The O-rings create a tight seal. Move the lever in reverse and remove the drain stopper, and O-rings to release water down the drain.
The only maintenance repair to worry about is the O-rings. While they lose their rubber elasticity over time, it is easy to buy new ones to replace the old ones. For cleaning, remove the stopper and the O-rings with a flathead screwdriver.
7. StopShroom Plug
Of the seven types of bathtub drain stoppers, this is the easiest to insert in the drain pipe.
Most plug stoppers are thick plugs with a keychain hoop handle on top or a chain on top. Sadly, the hoop handle and the chain handles tend to tear away from the plug with continued use. The StopShroom Plug opts for a thick, black silicone drain plug with an immovable knob on top of the stopper. This was chosen over the standard to keep the plug uniform; making the knob with the same material as the plug prevents separation.
To install it, push the stopper into the drain similar to a cork. To drain water, grip the knob and pull the stopper out.
Cleaning the tub stopper is stress-free, as it doesn't stay inserted in the drain like the six prior types. Only use it when you want to fill the tub with water. Maintenance and repair are non-existent.
The StopShroom Plug is stretchy and durable, fitting on any existing drain no matter the size. The other drain stoppers contain metal components, making them prone to rust. Additionally, repetitive motions of twisting, turning, pushing, and pulling aids in wear and tear, leading to eventual replacement.
This product is a well-crafted plug that makes filling and draining water in the bathtub simple.
Of the eight bathtub drain stopper types, this is the most effective and easiest to install (no need to call a plumber). It's a hat-shaped rubber device that fits on top of existing drains.
Similar suction stoppers will allow water to pass through when you want the water to stay or move around when you want it to stand still. StopShroom will do neither, as the suction is a super tight seal. There’s no maintenance or repair required, so you don’t need any home improvement know-how. And, like the StopShroom Plug, the StopShroom fits any drain size and works with or without drain stoppers or overflow drains installed.
Bathtub Drain Measurements
It's important to choose the correct size plug for your drain. If the drain is larger than the stopper, the water will leak out. If the stopper is larger than the drain, the stopper will not fit properly.
Avoid this by measuring the drain’s diameter with measuring tape or a ruler. The horizontal result is the bathtub drain width.
Complicated drain stoppers such as Trip Levers and Pop Ups require additional measurements. Therefore, if possible, measure the width and length of the pipe behind the shower wall. If it is difficult to reach the pipes from behind the wall, contact a plumbing expert.
While local building codes vary, the standard drain size is 1.5 inches wide. Antique bathtubs are 1 3/8 inches wide.
The Bathtub Drain Stopper Types: Your Move
Drain stoppers are perfect for bathing and washing the tub. The best choice is one that you can easily maintain, clean, install, and use without stress. Regardless of the decision, clean the drain stopper once per month to stop clog buildup from forming, even if a plumber’s help is necessary.
The StopShroom and StopShroom Plug are the most effective drain stoppers hands down. Both are simple to install in any drain, easy to clean, and maintenance-free. The drain stoppers are stress-free, meaning you can simply enjoy relaxing baths without worrying about water running down the drain. Complete the collection by adding TubShroom to the list to stop clogs before it begins.