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How to Replace a Tub Drain

In this edition of DIY Smarts, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner with an old 1950s bathtub replace the tub drain assembly when the current one stops plugging the tub.

Richard Trethewey visits a 1950s ranch house to help a homeowner replace his tub drain. The drain is rusted, and the stop can’t be used to fill the tub. The homeowners have done some repairs and upgrades themselves but were nervous to touch the tub drain because they don’t want to mess with water. Richard assures that replacing a drain is a straightforward project, as long as you have reasonable access underneath the drain and everything is correctly sealed.

Luckily, the drain is easily accessible from the basement, so the homeowner and Richard get to work. Richard lays out a mockup version of what he’ll be installing and demonstrates what each piece will do. Together they remove the old drain and install the new one.

How to Replace a Tub Drain: Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Using a screwdriver, remove the two screws securing the overflow plate.
  2. Using pliers, reach down to the drain show and turn counterclockwise. Depending on how old the tub is, you might have some trouble. Richard had to go in with a reciprocating saw for the 70-year-old drain.
  3. Once the drain is completely removed, the drain piping should be loosened and removed with a pair of pliers and hand removed.
  4. Remove the old putty.
  5. Loosely assemble the bath waste and overflow kit.
  6. Add putty to the underside of the shoe strainer and put it in the tub drain hole.
  7. Underneath the tub, align the rubber gasket and show elbow under the tub drain.
  8. Have the person in the tub catch the threads and turn the shoe strainer to tighten using pliers or a strainer wrench.
  9. Align the overflow assembly to the overflow hole in the tub.
  10. Attach the linkage assembly to the trip lever faceplate.
  11. Insert the plunger linkage assembly into the overflow hole.
  12. Screw the overflow plate back on.
  13. Secure the slip nuts and washers.
  14. Thread the new drain into the pipes.
  15. Install strainer drain plate.
  16. Test out new drain and stopper.


Richard replaced the old bath waste and overflow with an Everbilt Trip Lever Brass Pipe Bath Waste and Overflow in Chrome, though most bath waste and overflow kits would also work.

Richard needed other tools and materials to replace the drain, including plumber’s putty, screwdrivers, and the tub drain wrench.

All plumbing items available at The Home Depot

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