How Do I Retrieve A Detached Plunger From A Bathtub Drain? Solving A Common Bathtub Problem

How Do I Retrieve A Detached Plunger From A Bathtub Drain? Solving A Common Bathtub Problem

Water no longer drains off your bathtub fast. Why? It’s glaring that the plunger has detached from the linkage. Since water doesn’t drain off the bathtub quickly as expected, using it would be quite a challenge. 

You have tried all you could without success. Now, you’re seeking an answer to the question, how do I retrieve a detached plunger from a bathtub drain? 

Do the above scenarios sound like something you’re currently experiencing? If yes, you have come to the right place! 

We’ll discuss how to retrieve a detached plunger and share other tips you may find valuable on this post. Keep reading!

Retrieving A Detached Plunger From A Bathtub Drain

You can remove the plunger from any bathtub in diverse ways. You would only require a couple of tools to get it done. The good thing is you don’t need many tools for each method. Furthermore, the tools are also pocket-friendly. 

Let’s discuss different ways to remove a plunger that has detached itself from the linkage and is now making it difficult for water to drain off the bathtub quickly.      

Method 1: Using a hook to retrieve the detached plunger:

Please follow the step below if you’re comfortable using this method. 

#1: Unscrew the cover plate:

Your first move should be to loosen the cover plate to remove the trip lever and linkage, leaving the plunger inside. 

Typically, you are going to find the plunger attached to the linkage. But it broke and then fell inside the bathtub. That’s what you’re trying to retrieve, by the way.

Please, after removing both felt screws using your screwdriver, keep them somewhere you can easily remember. You don’t want to be looking for screws once it’s time to fix the cover plate to how it was. 

#2: Remove the assembly (trip lever and linkage):

Now that you have unscrewed the cover plate, carefully pull the trip lever and linkage assembly off the bathtub. Once you have done that, please keep it on one side and begin the next process. 

A Handy Tip: If you notice that the linkage has a breakage, don’t try to fix it back. You can’t do anything besides changing the entire stopper. But you still have to remove the detached plunger from the bathtub.    

#3: Deploy a C-hook:

Get a C-hook to fetch the detached plunger in the bathtub. Try to open the C-hook a bit using a plier, and have the screw head wrapped with string. 

Continue the next process once you have done that and are confident that the string is firmly attached to the C-hook. 

What you need to do next is to lower the assembly (C-hook and string) into the hole. Try to hook the plunger and have it pulled out. 

You might find it difficult to hook the detached plug in the bathtub on your first try. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying harder. 

A Handy Tip: It could happen that the plug’s hook wasn’t tight enough, which is why it got detached from the linkage. So, after you pull it out, use your plier to close the hook a bit. By doing so, the plunger won’t detach from the linkage with ease. 

Again, it is not a wise decision to attach a string to a plastic hook. Why? Chances are the string could get broken, or the same thing could happen to the plastic hook. It could get broken too. 

A better option would be to use a coat hanger and have the hook bent at the end. If such a hook gets stuck, it won’t break like the plastic hook. It would only bend and come out neatly without causing more problems for you. 

You also have a better chance of removing the detached plunger with a coat hanger, given that it is metal and it has some weight. The plastic hook could float and find it difficult to reach the detached plunger if the bathtub remains flooded.

A coat hanger won’t float or have problems dropping deep into the hole to retrieve the detached plunger so that the bathtub can start working properly. 

Method 2: Use a vacuum 

You can get the drain plunger out of the bathtub with the help of a vacuum. And the process is quite simple. 

All there is to do is suck the stopper up via the overflow. You can do this with a vacuum. Once it comes up, grab it using a plier and pull it out. That’s it. Your stopper is out. 

Method 3: Involve a professional

Sometimes, DIY is not the definite answer to some obstacles. It just gives you a good feeling that you tried at least. Unfortunately, the problem might persist. 

With your drain plunger detached from the linkage, causing water to drain off the bathtub slower than it should, all you can think of now is finding a solution. The solution implies removing the detached plunger so that the bathtub can become functional again.    

Please note that you might require a superior plunging technique for some cases. And that means getting a professional plumber involved. 

With a plumber present, you can rest assured you’ll get expert advice on what to do, have the right equipment to use such as a pipe bender hire, and the solution to the problem.

How To Block A Bathtub Drain In The Absence of A Plunger

 You desperately need a hot bath to sleep or feel alright. But for that to happen, your plug or drain plunger must be working efficiently. It has to ensure the water doesn’t drain out of the bathtub whenever you fill it up. 

So, if your stopper is no longer working but you need your bathtub to hold water while you soak your stress away, try the following techniques. 

#1: Shut the drain with a lid: 

You can keep water from draining using a cover. This process is a breeze. Plus, you don’t require any unique tool. 

A plastic lid or flat jam jar lid can get the job done. Just cover the drain hole and ensure the lid is big enough to cover the drain perfectly. 

You don’t need to permanently or temporarily seal the lid with any substance or place any object on it. Just ensure it is covering the drain correctly and put your hand on it. 

The reason you’re placing your hand is to form a strong seal that will keep the lid in place. Now, start filling the bathtub with water. But don’t forget to keep your hand on the lid while doing so. 

Will the lid move out of position once you fill-up the bathtub? No, it won’t. The water’s weight will keep the cover in place. 

#2: Use the plastic bag technique:

This trick is about creating a makeshift drain. The things you need for this technique include a washcloth, sponge, and plastic sandwich bag. 

If you’re using a sponge, get it wet but ensure you have rolled it into the drain to know if it would fit into the hole. If you were using a washcloth, you also need to follow the same procedure. Both materials have to be wet but do not have too much water. 

The next step is to place either the wet sponge or washcloth in the plastic sandwich bag. Then squeeze carefully to ensure there’s no air left in the bag. Now zip the plastic bag up. Alternatively, you can seal the plastic bag with a rubber band. 

After that, fit the plastic bag containing the wet washcloth or sponge into the hole. The washcloth or sponge will expand and fill the void, giving the plastic bag a better chance of preventing water from draining from the bathtub. 


How do I retrieve a detached plunger from a bathtub drain? By reading this post, you should know the various ways to do this. As you can see, you can remove a plunger that detached itself from the link in multiple ways. 

However, if all effort fails, don’t be shy to involve a professional and save time. You can even gain some knowledge on drain plungers from a professional plumber.

But the most important thing is don’t give up. Try everything possible to get the plunger out first before thinking of reaching out to a pro plumber. If you can retrieve the plunger yourself, you will save money and prove how good your DIY skills are.    


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Johnny is dedicated to providing useful information on commonly asked questions on the internet. He is thankful for your support ♥

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