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How To Remove A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs? A Comprehensive Guide

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Removing a tub drain is pretty simple if you know the drain stopper type used in the tub. Usually, modern bathtub drains have crosshairs, and some have threaded strainers. 

But the task of removing the drain stopper gets complicated when the crosshair is broken. And if not removed carefully, it may break even further, making the process more difficult. So how do you remove a tub drain with broken crosshairs? 

Using a drain key to remove a tub drain with a broken crosshair is the best thing to do. Additionally, you’ll need some lubricant like elbow grease and two adjustable wrenches for the purpose. The task may need a little more time than usual, but this is the easiest method for anyone with little plumbing knowledge. 

How To Remove A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs

In this article, I’ll provide a step-by-step process for removing a tub drain with broken crosshairs and shed light on why tub drains get damaged and more. Read on to learn further.

Why Does A Tub Drain Get Damaged? 

Bathtubs are for enjoying long slow baths playing some calming music with aromatherapy candles. But a damaged tub drain can be a real bummer preventing you from enjoying your me time. 

A foul odor from the drain, water backing up in the bathtub, toilet, or in the sink, wet drywall underneath the tub, pooling water, mold, or mildew around the shower are clear signs of a damaged tub drain. 

But why does the tub drain get damaged? The following are a few common reasons for a damaged tub drain:

  • Hair is one of the common causes of a clogged or damaged tub drain. Hair fall is apparent while you take a bath or bathe your pets in the tub. While it does not look like an issue to us, it definitely does for the tub drain. Hair buildup over time traps other things that go down the drain, and soon you’ll face the problem of a clogged or damaged tub drain. 
  • Do you regularly use bath bombs? If yes, it could be causing trouble with your tub drain. Ingredients in bath bombs, like flower bits, glitter, cornstarch, cocoa butter, etc., do not completely dissolve in water. Residues left behind by such products eventually get stuck to the bath drain pipe. Moreover, oil can solidify, and cornstarch can also harden and prevent the smooth passing of other deposits leading to blockages. 
  • The chalky, filmy soap scum that you see collecting on the sides of your bathtub is another concerning factor. Soap scum can also accumulate over time on the pipe walls, and it may trap other substances like hair and residues, causing the blockage. 
  • Rusting due to exposure to moisture can also cause tub drain damage. Rust buildup damages the drain preventing efficient water flow.
  • Pipe issues like rust buildup from corroded pipes can eventually restrict water flow and ultimately damage the tub drain. 
  •  Chemical damage from harsh bathroom cleaners also causes tub drain damage. Additionally, the drain can damage while trying to remove a clog; hence, be light-handed.

Things Required For Removing A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs

You have to be patient and careful while removing a tub drain, especially one with broken crosshairs. Since removing the drain isn’t an everyday affair, it may need extra effort and more time. So don’t lose your calm, and keep your fingers protected while doing it. 

And most importantly, you need the appropriate tub drain extractor tools for the purpose, and the following is the list of supplies you’ll require: 

How To Remove A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs – Step by Step

Here comes the part you’ve been waiting for, how to get out the broken tub drain. I’ll explain everything in lucid detail, but before we jump on to the procedure, a little knowledge about the tub drain components is a must. 


So, your tub drain with crosshairs has three parts- the stopper, the drain shoe, and the drain flange. The stopper is like a lid and is located at the top of the drain tub. The flange is located beneath the stopper, and the flange is connected to the drain shoe. And the crosshairs are found at the base of the flange. Here is a picture below that explains all the components.

How To Remove A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs
How To Remove A Tub Drain With Broken Crosshairs


Now let’s check the steps of removing the tub drain with broken crosshairs. I’ll show you two methods of removing it- one by using the drain key and another by using a drain extractor tool. You can follow the procedure that suits you best.

First Method: Using the Drain Key

Tools needed for this method are: 

  • Drain key
  • Lubricant 
  • Two adjustable wrenches 


Step One

First, you need to remove the drain stopper. If your tub has pop-up or flip-it style stoppers, you can remove it by simply pulling it out. For push-pull and toe-touch stopper designs, pull up and rotate the stopper clockwise to remove it. 

Step Two

Now place the drain key in the drain tub. Position the drain key in a way that the drive screw is at the top. Once you have properly installed the drain key, it’s time to tighten it. Hold the drive screw with a tight grip and start rotating it clockwise to hand-tighten it. Use the other hand to hold the lower hex nut which is located beneath the drive screw. This will help expand the drain shoe. 

Step Three

Once the drain key is perfectly positioned, it’s time to put the adjustable wrenches to work. Hold the drain key, fix one adjustable wrench to the drive screw, and attach the other to the hex nut. Start turning the drive screw anticlockwise using the other wrench while holding the hex nut in place. 

The task will require some force but keep turning the drive screw anticlockwise till the drain shoes are expanded further. As your grip gets stronger, you’ll be able to remove the drain slowly. Keep turning the wrench till the drain loosens up completely. 

Step Four 

Now you’ll be doing the opposite of the previous step. You have to hold the drive screw secure and start turning the hex screw anticlockwise. This eventually contracts the expansion shoes and removes the drain. 

If you’re not replacing the tub drain and reusing the same one make sure to clean it. You can use any cleaning solution or baking soda for the purpose.

Second Method: Using the Tub Drain Extractor Tool 

Tools needed for this method are: 

  • Hammer 
  • Tub drain extractor tool 
  • A half-inch ratchet or an extension bar 


Step One

You must be wondering how to use the tub drain extractor tool? Well it’s actually easier than the previous process. Simply, place the extractor tool in the drain, take a hammer and tap the tool with it a few times to allow it to grip the drain. 

Step Two

Use the half-inch drive and the ratchet and start twisting the extractor tool applying enough force. Keep rotating the drain until it loosens up and comes out. And that’s it; you have successfully removed the tub drain with broken crosshairs. 

You can check out this video to understand the process better: 



Q: Why Can’t I Unscrew My Bathtub Drain? 

Mineral buildup and corrosion may make the bathtub drain tub very tight, creating trouble in unscrewing it. You can use penetrating oil to loosen mineral or rust buildup and remove the tub drain easily. Make sure to cover the drain tub with a soft cloth to prevent scratches while trying to remove it. 

Q: How Do You Remove Rust From A Bathtub Drain?

Baking soda and water paste are the best DIY remedy to remove rust from the bathtub drain. Apply the paste to the rusty area, leave it for 30 minutes, and use a soft brush or scrub pad to remove the paste. 

Q: How Much Does A Plumber Charge To Replace A Bathtub Drain? 

You may have never thought of it, but calling a plumber to replace a bathtub drain is expensive. The average cost of the drain and parts is around $100, a professional installation charge is around $350, and the ultimate cost is around $450. It’s just an estimated cost; it may vary based on the drain, parts, and plumber’s charge. 

Q: What Are The Different Types Of Bathtub Drain Stoppers? 

Some common types of bathtub drain stoppers are- pop-up, push-and-pull, toe-touch, trip lever, lift-and-turn, flip-it, etc. 

Q: Can You Make A Homemade Tub Stopper? 

Yes, you can make or rather use simple stuff found around your home as a tub stopper. A sturdy container or jar lid makes a great tub stopper. You can also use empty coffee capsules and plastic bags as tub stoppers. 


I have covered every possible detail about removing a tub drain with broken crosshairs. With the mentioned steps, you should face no problem removing the tub drain. Also, make sure you have the essential tools ready to aid in the process. 

A tub drain with broken crosshairs is not a pretty sight, and it won’t go easy on your pockets. So make sure you adopt preventive measures to keep the tub drain nice and shiny!


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