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How to Convert Bathtub Drain Lever to a Lift-and-Turn Drain

We'll show you how to replace your old-style bathtub drain with a low maintenance lift-and-turn drain. Once you remove the old stopper, installing the new one is a breeze. So stop dealing with the lever-style drain that catches all of the hair in the tub and replace it with a new one that doesn't have the complicated linkage.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Lift-and-turn drains

When the stopper in your lever-style bathtub drain won’t pop up anymore because the linkage is damaged or clogged, replace it with a much simpler lift-and-turn style drain.

The linkage in a lever-style drain attracts dirt and hair like a magnet, and must be cleaned regularly in order to keep the drain working properly. The lift-and-turn drain has no complicated linkage to dig out and clean—almost everything catches in the drain grate. Buy the replacement kit at hardware stores and home centers.

Replace the old drain

Photo 1 shows how to remove the overflow plate, the stopper body and linkage. The linkage may stick and be stubborn to remove. Grab hold of it and tug hard until it pops out. Screw on the new overflow plate once the linkage has been removed.

The toughest part of the job is removing the old stopper body, but it’s all downhill after that. Remove the old stopper body as shown in Photo 2. If you’re having trouble unscrewing it, try heating it with a hair dryer set on “high.” The heat may help loosen the old plumber’s putty. The old stopper body can also be cut out with a reciprocating saw and metal blade, but be very careful because it’s easy to cut into and damage the bathtub.

All that’s left is to install the new stopper body and stopper. Slide the new rubber gasket on top of the drainpipe under the tub and insert the new drain flange with plumber’s putty on it as shown in Photo 3.

Use the supplied bushing if the new threads are different from the old. Screw the stopper into the stopper body and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Hammer
    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Cold chisel
    • Hacksaw
    • Pliers

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Plumber's putty
    • Lift-and-turn stopper

Comments from DIY Community Members

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September 28, 10:29 PM [GMT -5]

I tried to replace the stopper with the push type in the bottom of the tub. I removed all the parts and went to install the new threading and it was wider than the old threading. So I tried to put the old one back in and the pipe dropped under the tub and it is no longer flush with the bottom of the tub. Can anyone help???

December 27, 7:44 PM [GMT -5]

Great help!! But I'm stuck. I finally got the old drain assembly out but the new drain assembly will only screw in about halfway. Any thoughts? Perhaps the threading in the drain is dirty so the threading in the new assembly can't get on? I've tried greasing the threads up and have tried using CLR to clean the old threading in the drain. Any other suggestions? Thanks for your help!!

June 02, 3:48 PM [GMT -5]

This was just what I needed, I didn't know what the drain asembly looked like or what to do to get it out. Thought I had to pay a plumber. You're the greatest. Thanks for the help.

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How to Convert Bathtub Drain Lever to a Lift-and-Turn Drain

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