What to Do When Your Sink Drain Stopper is Stuck

Whenever you notice that your sink drain stopper is stuck, you’ll want to fix the problem quickly. After all, you won’t be able to use your sink because it will quickly overflow. Luckily, the problem isn’t that difficult to fix if you know what part of the stopper is broken. 

In this article, we are going to discuss how to fix a sink drain stopper stuck closed. In order to do this, you will have to determine why the sink drain stopper is stuck in the first place and then fix the problem according to what you found.

Why Is the Sink Drain Stopper Stuck? 

If you are wondering why your bathroom sink drain stopper is stuck, it may be this way for a number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons why a sink drain stopper is stuck are because of the spring clip, horizontal pivot rod, or pop-up plug.

You have to determine why the sink drain stopper is stuck in order to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again, but you don’t need to be a plumbing professional to diagnose the problem. 

Broken or Unattached Spring Clip 

The spring clip allows the stopper to pop in and out of place. It is possible for this clip to come unattached, or it can be broken entirely. You will need to look underneath your sink to see the spring clip and check if it is broken.

Rusted Pivot Rod 

The horizontal pivot rod is made from steel, which means it can rust. If rusted, the plug might not be working as it should. Rusted horizontal pivot rods may not move freely, or they can be broken outright. 

Broken Pop-Up Plug 

Pop-up plugs can become broken on the end, which means they don’t connect to the proper mechanism on the stopper and sink. The pop-up plug is often located beneath the sink, around the stopper flange. Either individual parts of the plug can be broken, or the entire assembly might need to be replaced.

How to Fix a Sink Drain Stopper Stuck in Closed Position 

After you determine what is broken on your drain stopper, you need to buy a new replacement part. Then, fix the sink according to what part of the stopper is broken. Here are instructions for fixing the three most common issues described above.

Broken or Unattached Spring Clip 

If the spring clip is unattached, all you have to do is put it back in place. However, you should replace the spring clip entirely if it looks damaged or worn in any way. Fixing this clip is very easy. Just purchase the replacement part and remove the old clip. Then, install the new one in its place.

Rusted Pivot Rod 

A rusted horizontal pivot rod is easy to fix as well. We recommend purchasing a brass rod if yours was rusted, especially if the original rod was steel. Once again, remove the broken part and replace it with the newly purchased horizontal pivot rod.

Broken Pop-Up Plug 

Fixing an entirely broken pop-up plug is a bit more difficult than the last two options. In order to change the entire pop-up assembly, you will need to remove the old parts. Then, add the new stopper to the drain. After that, slide the clevis above the stopper rod and slide the horizontal pivot rod into place as well.

Next, you will need to tighten everything. Begin by tightening the retaining nut that is responsible for holding the pivot rod steady. Make sure not to over-tighten it, though. Tighten the screw attached to the clevis as well.

Finally, see if all of the parts are moving together as they should before making sure that the seal works by filling the sink with water.

Prevention Tips 

If your bathroom sink drain stopper was stuck in a closed position in the past, there is a chance that it can become stuck again. This is especially true if you found it was knocked out of place or rusted from excess leakage.

To prevent this from happening again, make sure that all items underneath your sink or around your sink are far enough away from these stopper mechanisms so that nothing gets knocked out of place. 

Something else you should do to prevent your stopper from breaking in the future is to fix any leaks or drips. Leaks result in rust, which can make the stopper assemblies break.

Avoid placing anything thick or sticky down the drain. This will help to prevent any clogs from occurring in the pipes as well. Clean out the sink regularly and try to catch any hair before it goes into the drain.

Although these tips won’t guarantee that you never have the same problem again, they will keep your sink in relatively good working order for the time being.


The key to fixing a sink drain stopper stuck in the closed position is to uncover why the stopper is stuck in the first place. Unless you know why it is stuck, you won’t be able to rectify the issue accordingly. Most often, the spring clip, horizontal pivot rod, or pop-up plug assembly is to blame.

Once you uncover why your sink plug is not working properly, you can fix it by buying a new replacement part and inserting it where the old one used to be. While you are purchasing new replacement parts, we recommend looking for materials that are generally resistant to rust.

Make sure to keep your sink clean and pop-up mechanism in working condition so that it doesn’t get stuck again. This will help to keep your sink and drain in working order for as long as possible. 

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