Understanding How Sink Drain Stopper Works

No doubt that most of the home tasks are done on the kitchen and bathroom sink. But working on the sinks without stoppers can lead to a lot of water wastage. To preserve the water, you need to put a stopper on the sink drain.

But, which is the best type of sink stopper that you need? Do you know how it works? It can be frustrating when you don’t know how a sink stopper works.

Do you know how to fix a sink? Do you want to avoid the mess of removing the sink water using cups instead of it draining?

You will get the answers to your questions and learn more in this guide.

What Is A Sink Stopper?

Metallic sink drain stopper

A sink stopper is an object that is used in a sink drainage outlet. It can be used in both the kitchen and bathroom sink and basins. Its purpose is to stop the water from draining and allow it to drain after usage.

For instance, when doing laundry, you put the stopper in your bathroom sink drainage to prevent the water from draining. After you finish, remove the stopper for the water to drain. A sink stopper is also known as a plug.

There are different types of sink stoppers like the push-and-pull, pop-up, trip lever, toe-touch, and others. Even if they serve the same purpose, it is important to know the type you are buying or using. Let’s have a look at them.

Different Types Of Sink Stoppers And How To Clean Them

1. Lift And Turn Sink Stopper

Lift and turn sink stopper

Lift and turn sink stopper is a common type that has a small knob on its cap. The purpose of the knob is to help you open and close the stopper easily by twisting it. When opening it, you lift and turn it in one direction. When closing, you turn it in the opposite direction.

Installing this stopper is easy. Locate the threaded centre of the drain crossbar and screw the centre setscrew there. The setscrew is usually beneath the top cap of the stopper.

However, you need to ensure that you dont screw it too tight because it can get stuck in that place.

How To Clean It

Maintaining and cleaning it is easy. Thanks to its unique design. Pull the plug or stopper up to open and remove all the debris by wiping and rinsing it with clean water. This stopper is available at an affordable price.

2. Push And Pull Sink Stopper

Push and pull sink stopper

Push and pull sink stopper looks and design is similar to lift and turn stopper. It is installed in the same screwing the setscrew in the threaded center of the drain bar process.

The only difference between the two is how you operate them. Unlike the lift and turn stopper, the push and pull operate by pushing down to close and pulling up to open it.

How To Clean It

Maintaining and cleaning this stopper is also easy because you pull up the stopper, clean the debris, rinse it with clean water, and close it.

3. Flip-it Sink Stopper

Flip-it sink drain stopper

If you want a stopper that you can fix without tools, flip-it is the best. Installing this stopper is easy. It has rings that keep it firmly in place and ensures a strong seal. So you will push it into the drain, and it will automatically fix there.

When operating it, move the toggle lever attached at the top right of the stopper from side to side to open it. Closing it, push it into the drain.

How To Clean It

Cleaning flip-it stopper has no difference from the others. In fact, this is the easiest to clean. Move the toggle lever for the drainage to open, wash that area removing the waste, and then rinse it.

4. Toe-Touch Sink Stopper

Toe-touch is a unique stopper because you use your toe to open and close it. It is similar to the push and pulls and lift and turn stopper. Also, it is installed the same way. The only difference is that it uses the spring design.

This stopper has other names like foot-actuated or toe-tap. The stopper is fitted to the crossbar on the drain-fitting by the screw underneath the stopper’s cap.

How To Clean It

Cleaning this stopper is not hard. It would help if you pushed down the stopper using your toes to open it. Then clean and then rinse it. The only disadvantage this stopper has is that it wears out over time. So it would help if you changed it eventually.

5. Trip-lever Sink Stopper

Trip-lever sink drain stopper

Trip-lever sink stopper is among the two types of stoppers that use a lever on the overflow plate at the front of the tub. There is no visible pop-up stopper in this stopper; instead, only a strainer is there in the drain opening.

When this stopper is operating, the internal plunger moves inside the waste and overflow tube in an up-and-down motion to swivel the stopper in the drain opening.

To open the stopper, you need to move the plunger downwards so that the trip lever can go down. While closing it, you need to pull the plunger upwards to go up the trip lever.

How To Clean It

Cleaning and maintaining this stopper is a bit hard and complicated compared to the above-mentioned stoppers. While working on the drain, you might need to remove the plunger, and it can be tricky if it is stuck in the waste-and-overflow tube.

When cleaning, you first need to remove the screws that hold the overflow cover plate. Then remove the tab drain assembly from the overflow hole. Use a toothbrush and vinegar to clean the plunger. After drying it, apply petroleum jelly and the plunger to avoid stickiness and have efficient motion.

Then, replace the cover plate you removed and insert the drain assembly through the overflow hole. After doing all that, test the water flow. This stopper appears to be tricky, especially for people who are not familiar with levers. If that’s your case, go for the other options to avoid the hard times caused by it.

How Sink Drain Stopper Works

As mentioned above, sink drain stoppers are used in kitchen and bathroom sinks and basins. The stoppers are part of the sink, which is vital. How do we use them?

Although it is a bit explained above, have a look at this example. When washing the dishes in a sink, you might waste a lot of water when you don’t close the drainage outlet. To avoid this, you need to put the stopper in the opening to block the water from draining and wash your utensils.

When you are done washing the utensils, you will remove the stopper, and the water will flow out through the drainage. So, what you want to do in your sink will determine whether you will use the stopper or not.

But as time goes by, the stopper might either wear out or get stuck in the drainer. When you experience that, you need to fix the sink immediately.

How To Fix A Sink Stopper

A stuck stopper can be frustrating because water cannot drain, so you will not use the sink until it is fixed. However, not knowing how to fix the sink is terrible. Unlike the Trip-lever stopper, which is a bit complicated (although I have explained how to handle it above), the other stoppers are easy to fix when they get stuck.

The first step is to twist and pull the stoppers’ small knob upwards. If it doesn’t move, there are other ways to remove it without damaging the sink.

You can use a suction cup to remove the stopper. Place the cup on top of the stopper and push it down to stick it to the stopper. Then lift it to remove the stopper. If that still doesn’t work, don’t worry.

Take a pair of pliers and remove the pivot rod so that you can remove the pivot rod nut. The pivot rod is found beneath the sink, and it holds the nut. After removing the pivot rod, pull the stopper up from the drain. Turn your stopper and let it face the pivot rod, and place the sink stopper in the drain. Put your pivot rod back and tighten it to secure the pivot rod nut.

These methods can help you remove a stuck sink stopper faster. If you find it hard to do, hire an expert to do the task. Would you mind watching this video to know more about fixing the stopper especially the pivot rod?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I consider when buying a sink stopper?

The first thing you should consider is whether your sink has an overflow. This hole at the top of your basin allows air into the drain to enable the water to flow away faster when the sink is full. Also, it would help if you bought a good drainer like the pop-up assembly. They are easy to install and maintain.

Another thing is that you should get a stopper that fixes well in your sink and choose the design that will impress you. Also, you need to set your budget in case you need to replace it; you can afford the same stopper.

2. What is the difference between a kitchen and a bathroom sink?

There’s no much difference between the two. But you will notice certain designs are mostly used either in the kitchen or the bathroom sink. Also, the materials used and look matters. Like the toe-touch sink, a stopper is used in the bathroom sink. But for the others, you can use them where you want.

3. How does the pop-up mechanism work?

A Pop up stopper works when you pull up the lift rod, the pivot rod is pulled upwards. Since the pivot rod is attached to the stopper, it is pulled down and seal the sink. A lift rod is a plumbing fixture that allows a flapper to open and close.

4.What causes leakage in the pop up drain?

Pop up drain can start to leak where the pivot rod enters the drain pipe. That happens if the nut that holds the pivot rod is cracked or loose. You need to tighten the pivot rod but not too much.


With the above guide, you now know which is the best sink stopper for you, how it works and how to maintain it.

It would be best if you cared for it to avoid rusting(for metallic stoppers) and getting stuck in the drainage. Also, dirt causes water to get stuck when you fail to clean your sink drainage, debris pile up there and cause blockage. Always check on that.

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