How To Replace A Tub Drain


If you plan on replacing or removing a bathtub, you’ll have to remove the drain first. Additionally, if the drain itself is damaged, corroded, or just gross—you’ll need to replace it. The tub drain is a metal piece that sits on top of the drain pipe. It acts as a filter basket to prevent clogs. Every homeowner has experienced a clogged tub or shower drain at one point or another. The buildup of soap scum and hair can get pretty thick. When your drain has become damaged to the point that it’s no longer performing well or it looks bad, it’s probably time to repair it. Sure, you could just unclog the drain, but if it isn’t aesthetically pleasing anymore, you should consider a replacement. Let’s learn how to replace a tub drain. 


What You Need

Before you get started, you need to gather some tools and supplies: 

  • a plug wrench
  • locking needle-nose pliers
  • normal pliers
  • an adjustable wrench
  • plumber’s putty
  • a small flathead screwdriver
  • a clean rag




Step 1

First, you’ll need to remove the screen or stopper to be able to access the drain fitting inside. If the tub has a stopper, usually, you will unscrew the stopper from the drain or remove the set screw. For drain screens, you pry gently underneath the screen with the small flathead screwdriver. 


Step 2

Remove the drain with the plug wrench. To use a plug wrench, put it down the drain opening and match the crossbars of the drain with the wrench’s shape. Once the plug wrench is seated properly, turn it counterclockwise with an adjustable wrench. Once the drain is loose enough, remove it by hand. 

If the plug wrench doesn’t work, you can use locking pliers. Insert the locking needle-nose pliers into the drain and clamp the center of the crossbars. Next, use a pair of normal locking pliers to grip the needle-nose pliers that are in the drain. Turn counterclockwise until you can remove the drain by hand. 


Step 3

Now, it’s time to prep the drain opening before installing the new drain. Use a putty knife to remove the aged plumber’s putty. Then, soak the clean rag in some alcohol and clean the opening thoroughly. 



Step 4

So, the opening is ready for the new drain. First, spread some plumber’s putty around the underside of the new drain. You’ll want to use about a quarter-thick bead of putty. Put the drain down into the opening, and install the new drain stopper. If the new drain isn’t a stopper, all you need to do is attach the drain screen with a set screw. 


Call The Pros

Now you know the basics of how to replace a tub drain. These instructions may not apply to all drain types, so you may want to reach out to a plumber for the best results. If you’d rather leave this one up to the pros, give us a call today and get on the schedule! At Autry Plumbing, we pride ourselves on being the premier plumbing service in Western North Carolina.