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How Do I Remove a Shower Drain?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 16, 2024
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To remove a shower drain, the drain assembly can be accessed through the shower floor, and pulled out by individual pieces through the exposed drainage hole. The drain itself is comprised of several different interlocking parts which constitute the entire assembly. These parts can be replaced at any time during the life of the drain. Many home improvement stores and websites sell replacement shower drains which are kits that contain the entire drain assembly. These kits often include instructions on the removal of the old drain, and installation of new working parts.

The parts of the shower drain include the strainer, strainer body, shower pan, rubber gasket, and drain body. It may become necessary to remove a shower drain due to water leakage through some of the interlocking parts. The drain body is connected to the drain pipe, which is permanently attached to the home's water supply lines. The drain pipe is usually made of PVC, though older homes may have piping made from different types of metal. The removal of the drain pipe typically requires the skills of a professional plumber.

The strainer is the portion of the drain that is visible while standing in the shower. This piece is usually made of metal, such as brushed nickel or chrome, and is designed to catch large objects and prevent them from going down the drain. To remove a shower drain strainer, it can be unscrewed by the two screws which attach it to the strainer body below. Older screws may require the use of a flat head screw driver, while newer models are usually attached using Philips head screws.

Once the strainer has been lifted away, the strainer body can be removed. This portion of the drain assembly will be attached with both interior threading lines and plumber's putty. It is usually helpful to use channel locks, which can be inserted into the interior space of the strainer body for superior grip, to loosen and twist this piece out. Shower drains which also serve as tub drains may require the use of a specialized plumber's tool known as a drain key to perform this step.

The shower pan and drain body should both be visible once the strainer body has been taken out of the drain. The shower pan is designed to sit just below the surface of the shower and protect the subfloor of the bathroom beneath from water damage. This piece should remain in place. Between the shower pan and the drain body sits a rubber gasket, which acts as a sealant to prevent water from leaking between these two pieces into the crawl space below. The drain body can be moved slightly until the lip of the rubber gasket is exposed, and the entire pieces can be lifted away by hand.

It may be necessary to access the plumbing from below the shower to complete the drain removal. To remove a shower drain body, the drain pipe and body must be unattached. These two pieces are usually welded or soldered together using PVC glue or metal welding techniques. Older welds may be pulled and twisted apart by hand, while more difficult connections may require the use of a pipe cutting saw to separate the pieces.

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Discussion Comments

By Paul838 — On Dec 17, 2019

Wow, great guide, thanks! I bought a shower drain from IPS Corp a week ago, so I should be able to replace the old one, all thanks to you! I chose a 'Tile Shower Square Stamped CP – ABS', but replacing it should be the same as a round one, right?

Have a great day, cheers!

By Heavanet — On Jan 08, 2014

If you have home improvement skills, removing a shower drain may not be too difficult. However, if you follow simple steps but run into problems, you may need to stop and call a plumber to complete your project.

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