How to Fix a Loose Tub Drain Switch

What You'll Need
small wire brush
white vinegar
heatproof grease
needle nose pliers

One of the most common tub drain styles is the plunger type. It is has a switch on the front of the tub, usually near the faucet, to regulate the flow of water down the drain. The switch is mechanical and has an internal linkage which can get out of alignment and need some adjusting. Often, if the tub will not hold water when the switch is applied, it may simply be caused by this the linkage becoming loose. This alignment issue can be easily remedied. Although it can be a complicated with its many moving parts, you can easily fix a loose tub drain switch.  In fact, you may find that this is one of the simplest repairs you can make to your tub. 

Step 1 – Prepare the Work Area

It is a good idea to cover the drain with some newspaper or a towel so that if you drop a screw there is no chance of it going down the drain. Locate the drain switch and determine if you need a Phillips or a flat screwdriver. Some switches have a decorative metal plate over the screws that will need to be removed before you continue.

Step 2 – Unscrew and Remove

Remove the two screws that are holding the plate in place and set them aside. Attached to the cover plate is the linkage and at the bottom is a small plug. This system not only regulates the flow of water out of the tub into the drain, but it is part of the overflow drain. Remove and dissemble completely.

Step 3 – Clean the Assembly

Using a small wire brush, you should clean the linkage and plunger with some white vinegar. Next you should use some heatproof grease and lubricate the assembly. 

Step 4 – Adjust the Linkage

With needle nose pliers, adjust the locknut on the threaded lift rod. Next you should screw the rod down about 1/8”. Finally, you need to tighten the locknut. This step should adjust the linkage.

Step 5 – Reassemble the Switch

Your last step is to reassemble the switch. Since this switch is part of the overflow system, protecting the tub from overflowing in the event to the faucet being left on and the drain closed, be careful that you seat it correctly. Feed the unit back in the opening the way you took it out. Feel around as you lower it and be sure the plug fits back in property. You will be able to feel whether it is or not it is in correctly as you move it in. Screw the two screws back into the metal place and tighten down firmly but do not over tighten. Replace any decorative plate you removed. 

Your drain switch should no longer be loose and you should regain proper operation.