Sink Stopper Stuck? Fix It Fast In Easy Ways

Melissa Fannin Written By:
Melissa Fannin
Rosemarie Rich Edited By:
Rosemarie Rich
Sink Stopper Stuck

Are you faced with a sink stopper that won’t budge? A stuck sink stopper can bring your daily routine to a halt. Our guide is packed with simple fixes to free up any stubborn sink plug quickly and without fuss.

Keep reading for tips that really work!

Primary Lessons

  • Use a gentle pull, metal tool, or vacuum to unstuck a sink stopper in the open position.
  • Clean around the stopper and clear out any gunk with a brush or hot water to fix blockages.
  • Reach under the sink to adjust the horizontal rod or move water supply lines for better access if your stopper is closed.
  • Check and maybe replace rusty or bent horizontal rods to ensure smooth operation of your sink stopper.
  • Prevent future issues by avoiding clogging materials, cleaning regularly, and lubing parts with silicone grease.

Why is Your Sink Stopper Stuck?

Close-up of a stuck sink stopper preventing water drainage

There are a few common culprits behind your rebellious sink stopper’s refusal to move. From worn-out components to simple mechanical hiccups, we’ll explore the root causes that keep you from achieving smooth drainage.

Broken or unattached spring clip

A spring clip helps your sink stopper move up and down. If this small part is not hooked right or breaks, your stopper might get stuck. It’s important to check the clip if you push the lift rod and nothing happens.

Fixing it might be easy! You just need to find where it should connect to the pivot rod and extension bar again. Sometimes, getting a new spring clip can solve the problem if the old one won’t work anymore.

Rusted pivot rod

Sometimes the pivot rod under your sink might get rusty. This is a metal part that helps move the stopper up and down. If it gets rust on it, the stopper can become stuck. Rust can make it hard for the rod to slide and do its job.

You might notice this when you push or pull on the lift rod, but nothing happens. The stopper just won’t budge.

If there’s hair or gunk caught on the pivot rod, this could also cause problems. You may be able to fix this by moving the rod around until you can pull out whatever is stuck to it.

Taking off the nut that holds the pivot rod in place lets you remove it completely if needed. Then you can take out any junk and even replace the whole thing if it’s too rusty to work right anymore.

Broken pop-up plug

A broken pop-up plug often causes trouble in sinks. This happens when the plug that should go up and down gets stuck, not moving as it should. If pressing and releasing it many times doesn’t work, the plug might need to come out for a fix or replacement.

Checking if it’s damaged or worn out is important because then you know if you can repair it or need to get a new one. Fixing a pop-up plug can make your sink work right again without calling a plumber.

How to Fix a Sink Stopper Stuck in the Open Position

Sink stopper jammed and not movingIf your sink stopper won’t budge from its open stance, don’t fret—there’s a good chance you can solve the issue without a call to the plumber. Let’s roll up our sleeves and explore some practical steps to free that stubborn stopper and get your sink back in working order.

Try pulling it up

Your sink stopper stuck in the closed position can be annoying. But you might be able to fix it with just your fingers.

  • First, get a good grip on the stopper and gently pull straight up. Sometimes this is all it takes to free it.
  • No luck? Slide a metal nail file or flathead screwdriver under the edge of the stopper.
  • Carefully try to lift up with the tool. The stopper might pop right out.
  • Still stuck? Use a vacuum hose. Place it over the stopper and turn on the vacuum. As air pulls up, so should the stopper.
  • Make sure your hands are dry for safety and better grip when attempting these steps.
  • Finally, move below the sink. Feel for the horizontal rod and lift it. This may release the stopper from above.

Use pliers to loosen

If your sink stopper is stuck, pliers may help. They give you a stronger grip to work with.

  • Find the right pliers. Channel lock pliers are the best choice because they can adjust to different sizes.
  • Clear space under your sink. Make sure you have room to move and use tools.
  • Look for the stopper under the sink. You’ll see where it connects with the pivot rod.
  • Gently grab the pivot rod with your pliers. Be careful not to squeeze too hard.
  • Wiggle the rod just a little bit. This wiggling can help loosen things up.
  • Try moving the stopper now. With some wiggling, it might come free.
  • If it’s still stuck, twist the pivot rod slowly. Turning it can help free up any bits that are caught.
  • Pull on the stopper from above. Do this while you gently turn or wiggle the rod below with your pliers.
  • Check for dirt or hair. Sometimes cleaning off gunk can make everything work again.

Clear any debris

Sometimes your sink stopper may get stuck because things like hair and soap build up. This can make the stopper unable to move. Here’s how to clean it out:

  • Put on gloves to keep your hands clean.
  • Take off the sink stopper if you can lift it out.
  • Use a small flashlight to see inside the drain.
  • Look for things like hair or soap that might be in the way.
  • Take a small brush or an old toothbrush to scrub around the stopper and drain opening.
  • If you find a lot of gunk, pull it out with your fingers or tweezers.
  • Clean around the edges of the stopper where it meets the sink hole.
  • Flush the area with hot water to wash away any loose debris.

How to Fix a Sink Stopper Stuck in the Closed Position

When your sink stopper is stubbornly stuck in the closed position, a few strategic moves can free it up—keep reading to learn how you can tackle this common bathroom nuisance.

Lower the horizontal rod

Fixing a sink stopper stuck in the closed position may seem tough, but it can be simple. One key step is to lower the horizontal rod under the sink. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Start by finding the horizontal rod beneath the sink.
  • Look for a thin metal rod connected to the drain pipe.
  • This rod links to the stopper inside your sink basin.
  • It also connects to the strap that has holes in it.
  • The strap is held by a clamp attached to the lift rod.
  • Loosen the clamp screw to free up the lift rod.
  • Gently pull down on the horizontal rod.
  • Do this until you see movement of the stopper in your basin.
  • Keep water out of your way by mopping up any spills.
  • Make sure nothing blocks your access to parts under the sink.
  • Your stopper should go down, letting water run through.
  • Test it by running water and checking if it drains well.
  • Cleaning out debris from around or inside the drain hole.
  • Checking if other parts need fixing or replacing.

Move water supply lines

Sometimes your sink stopper gets stuck because water supply lines are in the way. These lines can be metal and flexible, like braided metal hoses.

  • Clear out everything from under the sink to make room to work.
  • Find the water supply lines; they should be two pipes or hoses coming from the wall.
  • Look for space to move them aside without bending too sharply.
  • Gently push or pull the lines to one side of the cabinet away from the sink’s drain assembly.
  • Make sure not to kink or damage the lines as they could leak.
  • Secure the lines out of the way if needed with a piece of tape or a strap so they don’t slip back.

Locate and lower the horizontal rod

After moving the water supply lines, you can reach the parts under the sink more easily. Next, you’ll want to find and lower the horizontal rod to free up your stuck sink stopper. Here’s how you do it step by step:

  • Look for the horizontal rod at the back of the sink. It’s a thin metal piece connected to your stopper.
  • This rod goes through a hole in the stopper lever, located behind your drainpipe.
  • Gently grasp the horizontal rod with your fingers. You might need to reach below the sink for this.
  • Firmly pull down on the horizontal rod to unhook it from the strap that holds it in place.
  • Once unhooked, push it slightly towards the back of the sink which will release your stuck sink stopper.
  • If your bathroom sink stopper is still stuck, try lifting and wiggling the rod a bit more.
  • Make sure everything moves smoothly when you’re done. The water should drain out without trouble.

Repairing or Replacing the Horizontal Rod

The horizontal rod is key to making your sink stopper work right. If it’s not working, here are steps to fix or replace it:

  • Check if the horizontal rod is bent. If so, you can try to straighten it with your hands.
  • Find the V – shaped spring clip that connects the rod and stopper. Pinch it to disconnect them.
  • Look at the retaining nut that holds the rod in place. Make sure it’s tight but not too tight.
  • Take out the horizontal rod by unscrewing any parts that hold it down.
  • See if the rod has rust or damage. You might need a new one if it’s broken.
  • Put a new horizontal rod in if needed. Line it up and attach it where the old one was.
  • Reconnect everything. Make sure your sink stopper moves up and down smoothly.

How to Properly Attach the Lift Rod and Lift Strap

Now that you have checked the horizontal rod, it’s time to connect the lift rod and lift strap. This will help your sink stopper go up and down smoothly.

  • First, find the hole at the bottom of the lift rod. This rod is above your sink.
  • Next, locate the lift strap. It hangs below your sink and has several holes.
  • Slide the end of the lift rod through one of the holes in the lift strap. Choose a hole that lets you move the stopper up and down well.
  • Use a clip to lock these two parts together. Make sure it snaps into place so they stay attached.
  • Test your work by moving the lift rod up and down. Watch if the sink stopper moves with it.
  • If everything works fine, then you are all set! If not, adjust until it does.

Prevention Tips for Avoiding a Stuck Sink Stopper

A stuck sink stopper can be a hassle. You can avoid this problem with easy steps.

  • Keep thick or sticky things out of your sink. Things like cooking grease and coffee grounds can clog your drain and make the stopper stick.
  • Clean your sink often. This stops stuff from building up that could keep the stopper from moving.
  • Look at your sink parts now and then. Make sure everything is hooked up right and nothing is broken.
  • Use a strainer in your sink. It catches hair and other bits before they go down the drain.
  • Don’t overuse cleaners that promise to clear drains. They can sometimes damage the parts of your sink.
  • Lube moving parts under the sink with silicone grease. This makes them move better and not get stuck.
  • Teach everyone in your house how to use the sink right. Tell them what shouldn’t go down the drain and how to work the stopper smoothly.


1. What can I do if my sink stopper is stuck down?

If your sink stopper is stuck, you can try using a small suction cup to pull it up or gently use pliers to grab and lift the stopper.

2. Is there a way to fix a bathroom sink plug that’s stuck with no rod underneath?

Yes! Try pushing and pulling on the push-to-pop-up stopper itself or use a plunger over the drain to create pressure that might pop it open.

3. Why might my sink drain stopper get stuck in the closed position in the first place?

Common reasons include something blocking its movement, buildup of gunk, or parts like the lift rod not working right.

4. If my sink has water in it, how can I fix a stuck sink drain stopper without making a mess?

Turn off both hot and cold taps first. Then try lifting the horizontal rod attached under the sink while preventing water from going down the drain too fast.

5. Can fixing a push-to-pop-up type of sink stopper be done without calling for professional help?

Many times you can jostle or jiggle around this type of stopper by reaching below your existing sink and working with parts like lift rods which often just need adjusting.

6. What should I do if home improvement tricks don’t free my stuck tub drain plug?

When basic tips fail—like using pliers or changing angles while lifting—then you might need to call a professional plumber who has tools and experience for such tasks.

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