Home-How » 8 Ways to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

8 Ways to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

Is your bathtub drain stopper broken, missing, or not sealing well?

Are you looking for an effective way to block your bathtub drain? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

There’s nothing as relaxing as soaking your body in a warm bath after a busy and long work day. However, this might not be possible if your bathtub has a defective stopper or misses a plug.

While you can shop for a new bath plug, you can save yourself the hassle by using some quick fixes that can prevent water from escaping down the drain and allow you the chance to relax and unwind.

From a flat jar lid to a plumber’s putty fix, this post will go deeper into several temporary solutions to keep your luxurious water from draining away.

But before that, let’s look at how bath stoppers or plugs work.

Understanding How Bath Plugs Work?

Sometimes referred to as a bath stopper, a bathtub plug works to prevent water in the tub from leaking through the drain hole. This simple device covers the hole above the bathtub drain, creating a watertight seal and allowing the tub to get filled.

You can shop for a variety of bathtub drain stoppers on the market, each featuring a unique style, size, and material. The most common bath plugs include lift-and-turn, trip-lever, push-and-pull, toe-touch, flip-it, and pop-up.

While all work slightly different from one another, they perform the same purpose–retaining water in the bathtub for the desired time and allowing the tub to get emptied again.

Most plugs come equipped with a handle or pull chain that makes it easier to unplug when emptying your tub after a good soak.

Despite their durable nature, bathtub drain stoppers often wear and tear after many years of use. As a result, they end up failing to prevent water from escaping your bathtub. When this happens, you might need to invest in a replacement.

But in case of an emergency, there are several DIY methods you can try at home to keep water in your bathtub.

Understanding How Bath Plugs Work

8 Effective Ways to Block a Bathtub Drain Without a Plug

1. Empty Coffee Pod

Perhaps the easiest way to block a bathtub drain when your plug fails is to use an empty coffee pod. If you can’t start a day without a cup of coffee, chances are you have lots of empty coffee capsules lying around. Why not re-purpose them for a justifiable cause?

A used coffee pod, like a Keurig cup, could fit inside the drain hole, creating a tight seal and preventing water from flowing out.  Just clean off the residue in the single-serve cup and place it firmly into the drain with its top facing down to close the hole.

Next, fill your bathtub. If it leaks, don’t worry! There is a solution for that too. Wrap a rubber band or two around the coffee pod to boost its circumference and boost its sealing capabilities.

2. Plumber’s Putty

Another way to create a DIY bath plug is to use a plumber’s putty. This is a basic tool used by plumbers to seal the base of faucets before setting them onto the sink. A plumber’s putty makes an ideal makeshift stopper because it can remain soft for an extended period and maintains a watertight seal.

So, if the gasket on your pop-up drain no longer keeps water in the tub, consider this temporary fix. Take a few pieces of putty and roll them in your hands to form snake-like cylinders that can encircle the entire length of the drain.

Next, lift the faulty drain stopper and place the putty into the hole, creating a firm barrier. Once you’ve done that, close the bathtub drain on the plumber’s putty, then enjoy a leak-free hot bath.

But remember, this is no long-term fix. You will need to get rid of putty when draining your bathtub.

3. Toilet Bowl Plunger

Toilet Bowl Plunger

Besides unclogging the tub and shower drain, a toilet plunger can also serve as an effective bathtub plug. Wash your plunger’s rubber end with water and soap to avoid soaking in dirt and then place it over the drain hole in the bathtub.

If it’s big enough to cover the drain, press it down to create a suction. After that, remove the wooden handle from the plunger. But if the hole extends past the plunger, leave the handle because you need it to retain the seal.

To drain the water, lift or pull the toilet plunger, and water will flow through the drain.

4. Jar Lid Solution

If you don’t want a one-time solution, a jar lid might do the trick. Find a flat jar lid with the right size that matches your drain. Opt for jam jar lids because their sizes tend to fit perfectly with most drains. But you can also use any plastic lid, so long as it fits over the hole.

This method requires you to flip the lid upside down and place it on the opening above the drain. To ensure the lid fits tightly, dampen it and apply a little pressure. Fill your bathtub with water, and push down on the jar lid to create a suction. Alternatively, you can secure the lid using waterproof duct tape.

5. Use Plastic Bags

Besides the above solutions, you can also make a temporary drain plug using a plastic bag. Get a sandwich or storage bag, fill it with water and seal it. After that, gently press down the edges of the bag to create a suction.

For an even tighter seal, wrap a rubber band around the ends of the bag. It’s paramount to find the right size of plastic bag that will snug into the drainpipe. If it’s too small, it will get stuck.

You can also replace the water in the plastic bag with a small sponge or washcloth to create a more robust seal around the drain. Twist the sponge or washcloth and place it inside the bag.

Ensure you’ve squeezed all the air inside the bag and zip it tight. Otherwise, it will float in the bathtub once you fill it.

6. Medicine Container Lids

If you have a lot of medicine container cups lying around, they can make great plugs for your tub’s drain.

Gather your medical containers and search for a top that fits the size of the drain, preferably a 15 ml medicine cup. Flip the top and place it inside the drain while applying small amounts of pressure.  Fill your tub and see how the stopper holds up.

7. Marine Drain Twist Plug

Most fishermen usually have a spare marine drain twist plug in their tool bags. If by luck you have one around the house, you can use it to replace your defective bathtub plug.

Also known as a boat drain plug, this simple device is easy to use. If it matches your drain’s size, twist the marine stopper into the hole in a clockwise direction using the t-shaped brass handle at the back. For easy removal, pull up the handle and lightly twist it counterclockwise.

8. Use a Tape

Another simple solution worth trying out is sealing the drain with waterproof duct tape. You can shop for several waterproof duct tape in your nearest hardware stores or even online.

We recommend you opt for a double-sided tape because it can create a seal that can handle water pressure as long as you have to relax in the bathtub. Regular duct tape can also do the trick, but it might not be as waterproof.

It’s wise to tape the drain when the bathtub is dried up for better results. Also, press gently on the tape to ensure it adheres well and forms a good seal on the surface.

After a relaxing bath, you can remove the tape and let the water drain. Use a knife or scissors to scrape off the tape’s residue. Vinegar can also dissolve the remaining adhesive.


How Do You Stop a Bathtub Overflow Drain

1. How Do You Stop a Bathtub Overflow Drain?

As the name suggests, a bathtub overflow drain prevents your tub from overflowing. It allows water to flow via the overflow drain instead of spilling on the floor.

However, most people often seal off the overflow drain to enjoy a full-body bathing experience. Overflowing also leaves behind debris and other unwanted stains that make your tub look ugly.

Fortunately, you can address this problem by getting an overflow drain cover from the hardware stores or a custom-made seal from your nearby plumbing shop.

Alternatively, you can replace the overflow drain with a waterproof sealant to prevent it from flowing outside. Keep in mind that this solution is more permanent, but you can always reinstall your original drain cover if the need arises.

2. How Does a Pop-up Drain Work?

Pop-up drain plugs are arguably the most common bathtub stoppers in the market. These mechanical tools leverage a system of levers and links to move a drain plug up and down to create a watertight seal for the bathtub.

Anyone can operate a pop-up drain; you don’t need to be a plumbing expert. The device comes with a simple design and operates by the same lever on the overflow platelike in a trip-lever stopper.

When you press down on the center of the pop-up drain and twist it, the stopper will lock in place and allow water to drain out. If you want to open the drain, firmly push the center and twist it in the opposite direction.

Closing Thoughts

As we wrap up, there are many solutions to blocking a tub’s drain without a plug. However, most of them are temporary fixes and come in handy in case of an emergency.

To enjoy a relaxing hot bath every day, it’s wise to invest in a permanent solution. That means taking a trip to your nearby hardware or plumbing shop and finding an excellent replacement for the bathtub plug or stopper.

On that note, avoid using solutions that might damage your bathtub drain hole, or you might need to replace the whole drainage system.

If you have more DIY methods in mind or questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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