How to Fix Sink Pop-Up Stopper Problem

Four Simple Solutions for Common Sink Pop-Up Stopper Problems

By Mark J. Donovan

The sink pop-up stopper is a neat and simple little mechanical device for holding water in the sink bowl. The sink pop-up stopper device consists of a stopper and a linkage assembly that controls the position of the sink drain pop-up stopper. Occasionally, however, it requires adjustment.

The pop-up stopper either doesn’t move anymore when you pull/push on the lift rod or the pop-up stopper just doesn’t seem to hold water in the sink very well, e.g. water seeps around the pop-up stopper. 

Fortunately, with just a wrench and/or screw driver you can fix a sink pop-up stopper problem in just a few minutes.

Pop-Up Sink Problem Does Not Stay Closed

One of the most common sink pop-up stopper problems is that the pop-up stopper doesn’t stay closed when you pull up on the lift rod handle. The main culprit with this problem is a loosened pop-up stopper pivot nut.

The pop-up stopper pivot nut can be found on the back or side of the sink drain pipe. Usually if you tighten this nut a little, you will create the necessary friction on the pivot ball, located under the pivot nut, to allow the pop-up stopper to hold its position when either pulled closed or pushed open. It is important, however, to not over tighten this nut as you will create too much friction such that you will not be able to move the pop-up stopper lever at all.

If you do find the pop-up stopper lift rod hard to move up and down, you may want to loosen the pivot nut a little. In addition, you can also temporarily remove the pivot nut and lubricate the pivot ball with a little Vaseline to help create a smoother action when opening and closing the sink pop-up stopper.

Small Puddle Under Sink

If you notice a small puddle or leak underneath your sink, it may be that the pop-up stopper nut is too loose and drain water is actually seeping out around the pivot nut.

Sink Pop-Up Stopper Problems

If this is the case, tighten the pivot nut with your wrench.

Pop-Up Stopper Linkage has Loosened Up

Another reason why a sink pop-up stopper may not work well in holding water in the sink is that the pop-up stopper linkage assembly has moved and needs adjusting. If you look up and under the sink you will notice that a horizontal metal arm extends from the pivot nut to a metal or plastic linkage assembly that is connected to the lift handle rod.

Sometimes there is a screw that holds the lift handle rod to the horizontal metal arm that extends out from the sink drain. Other times there is a U-shaped piece of metal that holds the metal arm and lift rod together. Occasionally the screw loosens up or the U-shaped piece of metal slides down the lever rod.

If this happens, adjust the lift arm and the horizontal metal arm that extends from the drain pipe, and either tighten the screw that holds them together or slide the U-shaped piece of metal up or down on the lift rod.

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After making the adjustment try opening and closing the pop-up sink drain using the lift rod handle and see if the pop-up stopper open and closes properly. If it does not, again adjust the position of the horizontal metal arm on the lift rod until the pop-up stopper works properly.

Pop-Up Stopper Disconnect from Horizontal Metal Arm

Another frequent problem that can arise with pop-up stoppers is that the pop-up stopper becomes disconnected from the horizontal metal arm that protrudes into the drain pipe. By loosening the pivot nut you can move the horizontal metal arm in and out of the drain pipe so that it lines up with the square/round hole in the bottom of the pop-up stopper assembly. Once the horizontal metal arm is located in the hole properly, you can tighten the pivot nut back up.

Sink Pop-Up Mechanical Assembly How to Fix Sink Pop-Up Stopper Problem

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