What to Do When Your Sink Stopper Is Stuck

Try Jiggling the Stopper

Often a stuck sink stopper just needs some encouragement to get moving again. Try jiggling the stopper up and down and twisting it back and forth. Sometimes this is enough to dislodge whatever is causing it to stick. Be gentle when jiggling the stopper to avoid damaging it.

Use a Plunger

A simple plunger can provide enough suction to help pull a stuck stopper up. Fill the sink with enough water to cover the stopper. Place the plunger directly over the stopper and push down firmly several times. This should form a seal and create suction when you pull up on the plunger. Repeat several times, adding more force each time. The suction can help pull the stopper free.

Disassemble the Stopper

Many sink stoppers can be easily disassembled, allowing you to inspect what might be causing the sticking. Start by pulling up on the stopper as much as possible to expose the pole underneath. Unscrew any nuts or retaining pins that hold the pole in place. This will allow you to remove the pole and stopper from the sink drain.

Once removed, inspect the mechanism for any blockages or damage. Try soaking it in white vinegar to dissolve any grime or mineral deposits. Use a pipe cleaner or tweezers to remove any hair or debris lodged in the mechanism. Reassemble and test to see if the stopper moves freely.

Use Lubricant

A lubricant like WD-40 can help loosen a stubborn stopper. Spray or apply gel lubricant directly onto the stopper mechanism. Try working the stopper up and down while lubricating to work the lubricant into the mechanism. Allow it to soak in for 10-15 minutes before testing the stopper again. The lubricant will help the mechanism glide smoothly.

Remove the Stopper with Pliers

If you can grab onto the edge of the stopper with pliers, you may be able to provide enough grip and force to wrest it free. Protect the sink surface by covering it with a rag before placing the jaws of the pliers against the stopper edge. Firmly grip the stopper and twist it back and forth while pulling up. Take care not to bend or damage the stopper.

Clean Out the Drain

A buildup of hair, gunk and other debris draining down from the sink can sometimes prevent the stopper from moving freely. Removing the stopper mechanism allows you to run a drain snake down into the drain pipe to clean out any blockages. Alternatively, try an enzyme drain cleaner or boiling water to break up gunk in the drain.

Replace the Stopper

If you’ve exhausted all other options, the stopper mechanism may simply be broken or too corroded to function properly. Most sink stopper assemblies are easily replaced by unscrewing the retaining nut holding the pole under the sink. Take the old assembly with you to find a matching replacement stopper kit. Installation is as simple as screwing the new stopper pole back into place.

FAQs About Dealing With a Stuck Sink Stopper

What if the stopper won’t come up at all?
If the stopper is stuck fully closed and won’t budge, the above techniques can help loosen it. Focus on lubricating and disassembling the mechanism to troubleshoot the issue. In a worst case, the stopper may need to be forcibly pried up.

Why does my sink stopper keep getting stuck?
Frequent sticking could be due to a damaged mechanism in need of replacement. Buildup of hair, soap scum and mineral deposits can also cause recurring issues. Thoroughly clean the stopper and drain pipe to prevent repeated sticking.

Is there a homemade solution I can try?
You can try loosening a stuck stopper with white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for 15 minutes before trying to jiggle the stopper loose. Baking soda and hot water is another DIY method that can break up gunk. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stopper mechanism clean.

What should I avoid doing when trying to unstick the stopper?
Avoid forcing the stopper too aggressively or you could damage the mechanism. Don’t use harsh chemicals or solvents that could corrode the stopper components. Applying too much brute force with pliers risks bending the fragile stopper parts.

Why does my stopper stick periodically but not all the time?
Intermittent sticking when the stopper seems fine at other times is likely due to a buildup of hair, soap and grime. Regularly cleaning the stopper and drain pipe prevents occasional sticking issues.

When should I call in a plumber for help?
If you’ve tried all the DIY methods without success, the stopper likely needs disassembling to be properly serviced and repaired. At that point it’s best to call a professional plumber rather than risk damaging the sink or stopper even more.


Dealing with a stuck sink stopper can quickly go from annoying to frustrating. However, in most cases a stuck stopper can be freed up with some DIY elbow grease. Focus on lubricating, disassembling and cleaning out the stopper mechanism. For stubborn stickers, be prepared to replace the stopper assembly. With a few simple tools and techniques, you can get your sink stopper working smoothly again.

What to Do When Your Sink Stopper Is Stuck

A stuck sink stopper is a common annoyance that most homeowners will deal with eventually. Whether it gets stuck open and causes the sink to hold water, or gets stuck closed and prevents water from draining, a stuck stopper can make your sink unusable. Fortunately, there are several tricks you can try to get your sink stopper unstuck before having to call in a plumber.

Try Jiggling and Twisting the Stopper

Often some simple jiggling is all that’s needed to unstick a stubborn sink stopper. Try grasping the stopper and gently pulling up while twisting back and forth. Sometimes a buildup of grime or mineral deposits is causing it to stick, which can be broken free with some wiggling. Don’t pull up too forcefully, which risks damaging the stopper mechanism.

Use a Plunger

For a sink stopper stuck closed, a common plunger can generate enough suction to pull it open. Fill the sink with enough water to completely submerge the stopper. Place the plunger directly over the stopper and push down several times to form a tight seal. When you pull up, the suction created can provide the extra force needed to pop the stopper free.

Remove the Stopper Assembly

On many sinks, the stopper pole and control rod can be easily removed for cleaning and inspection. Start by unscrewing any retaining nuts or pins underneath the sink that hold the pole in place. This allows you to take out the entire assembly. Scrub away any buildup with vinegar or scrub brushes. Soak it in white vinegar if mineral deposits are causing it to stick.

Use Lubricants

Spray lubricants like WD-40 work great for loosening a stuck sink stopper. Liberally apply the lubricant directly onto the stopper and pole, allowing it to soak in for 10-15 minutes. The lubricant will seep into the mechanism and help it glide smoothly again. Don’t forget to lubricate both sides of the stopper.

Adjust the Control Rod

If the sink stopper is getting stuck in the open or closed position, adjusting the control rod may help. The control rod connects the stopper to the sink lever or foot pedal under the sink. Loosen the control rod connectors and adjust the length of the rod as needed so the stopper seats properly.

Clean Out the Drain

Gunk in the sink drain can prevent the stopper from moving freely. Try snaking the drain or using an enzyme drain cleaner to remove any hair or debris buildup in the pipes below the stopper. Prevent future sticking by regularly cleaning the drain to keep the path clear.

Remove the Stopper Manually

As a last resort, you may need to forcibly remove the stopper if other methods fail. Protect the sink surface, then use pliers or other gripping tools to try prying the stuck stopper out. Just be very careful not to damage the sink or stopper in the process.

A stuck sink stopper often just needs a little coaxing to get moving again. With some troubleshooting and DIY techniques, you can likely get your sink drain working properly and avoid calling in expensive plumbing repairs. Just be patient and gentle when trying to unstick the stopper.

FAQs About Dealing with a Stuck Sink Stopper

What if my stopper is fully stuck closed?

Try using a plunger to generate suction and pop the stopper open. Filling the sink and repeatedly plunging can provide enough force. As a last resort, you may have to pry the stopper open manually with gripping tools.

Why does my stopper keep getting stuck?

Frequent sticking is usually due to a buildup of gunk and mineral deposits interfering with the mechanism. Thoroughly scrub and soak the assembly in vinegar. Replace the stopper if cleaning doesn’t solve the recurring sticking issues.

When should I call for professional help?

If DIY methods fail and you can’t remove the stopper assembly yourself, call for assistance. A plumber can disassemble the sink pipes if needed to service the stuck stopper. They can also replace a damaged stopper.

Can I use household products to unstick the stopper?

Yes, white vinegar or WD-40 soaked into the mechanism can help dissolve buildup. Baking soda and hot water can also break up gunk. Use old toothbrushes or pipe cleaners to scrub away any debris.

What causes a sink stopper to get stuck?

The most common causes are hair, soap scum, mineral deposits, and general gunk building up over time. These can interfere with the stopper mechanism and cause sticking or prevent smooth operation.

How can I prevent my sink stopper from getting stuck again?

Regularly clean the stopper components and drain pipe to prevent buildup. Every few months, disassemble the stopper and control rod for a thorough scrubbing. This maintenance will prevent recurring issues.