How To Remove A Shower Drain Without Replacing The Shower Pan

Nearly invisible from above, shower drains can seem mysterious and intimidating.  Unfortunately, drains are also a common point for shower failures to occur.  If you're beginning to see water stains on the ceiling beneath the shower (especially if the stains are rust-tinted) it may be time to replace your drain. Of course, before you can replace a drain you need to get the old one out.  This article will explain how to easily remove a shower drain without removing or damaging the shower pan.

1. Remove the Drain Cover

While the metallic grate on the floor of a shower is often referred to as the "drain," this is actually just the drain cover and must be removed before you can get access to the drain itself.  Use a flat-head screwdriver to pop the drain cover off and place it aside.  (In older showers the cover may be held in place by a few small screws that will need to be removed first.)

2. Break Seal Between Drain and Pipe

Most modern drains prevent leaks between the drain and the pipe using a black rubber compression gasket, which is often the point of failure when a drain begins to leak.  With the drain cover removed, use a pair of pliers to twist and extract the large compression nut holding the gasket in place.  Discard both the gasket and the compression nut.

3. Remove a Narrow Section of the Drain and Drain Flange

Next we want to remove a small section of the drain and the drain flange (the lip of the drain that extends onto the floor of the shower beneath the drain cover).  This will allow us to compress the drain, making it easier to remove without having to lift the shower pan.  To do this, use a hacksaw to carefully make a single vertical cut into the drain, cutting through the drain itself but not into the pipe or the shower pan.  Continue this cut on the horizontal drain flange.  Next, move approximately one inch around the drain and make a similar cut through both the drain and flange.  Use a flat-head screwdriver to lift this section of the flange away from the shower pan, prying through whatever substance was used to originally seal the flange down.  

4. Remove the Drain

Squeeze the remaining section of drain and gently twist or rock it.  This will allow the retaining nut and washers securing the drain below to drop down, freeing the assembly.  The drain can now be lifted away from the pipe and discarded.

Removing an existing drain without damaging or removing the shower floor is a simple task most homeowners can complete on their own following these instructions.  With the drain successfully extracted, you can now install a new drain following manufacturers instructions and cross "fix leaking shower" off your to-do list. If you would rather have a professional's help, contact a plumbing company like Eddie B Plumbing.

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