How Does a Tub Drain Removal Tool Work?

A filled bathtub.

When you’re working on a bathtub, you will often need to remove the tub drain. At first, it can seem like an impossible task. Some people recommend using a pair of crossed screwdrivers in the cross pieces, but this does not always work. All it accomplishes is to break the cross pieces. The tub drain removal tool is specially designed to take out the tub drain easily by attaching to a wrench. Even better, it’s not particularly expensive. You can find tub drain removal tools in most hardware stores in the plumbing section. It can be worth visiting several stores to find the lowest price.

The Design

The tub drain removal tool has a hex-shaped body that can automatically adjust to fit most tub drains. It is set up for the standard 1½ inch household drain but can expand further. Although some models are meant to be used with a wrench, there are also tools that have a hole in the body. This allows the tub drain removal tool to be turned by putting a screwdriver through the hole and exerting force in the correct direction. It should be made of first-cast metal, otherwise, it won’t have the strength to do the job properly. Some of the tools that are turned with a screwdriver rather than a wrench are double-ended, allowing them to also be used on much smaller drains.

How It Operates

The tub drain removal tool should be put into the drain and turned. The sides will move out to grab the inside of the tub drain firmly. It should be tapped into place with a hammer until the fit is very snug. The socket wrench fits on the top of the tool. Check to ensure the fit is firm when you turn the wrench.

Set the lock on the wrench and loosen the tub drain by turning it counterclockwise until the tub drain comes out. If the tub drain has been in for a number of years, this might require some time and plenty of effort but if set properly, the tool will grip tight enough to provide the purchase you need. The beauty of the way this works comes with the tight fit inside the tub drain. You have to be sure it really is tight otherwise it will just slip and scratch the metal.

For putting a new tub drain in, you need to fit the tool snugly into the new drain then slowly screw it into the drain using a clockwise movement. Once it’s fully fitted, gently pull out the tub drain removal tool so you don’t scratch the metal.


There’s no maintenance involved with a tub drain removal tool. When you’ve finished with it, just put it back in your tool box and leave it there until the next time you need it. You might want to wipe it clean if it’s wet.