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Discuss Bath drain plate won't come off... Or screw back down in the Plumbing Forum | Plumbing Advice area at PlumbersForums.net

Hi all, new here so I hope I'm posting in the right place. I'm having a hell of a time with my bath drain cover. I just wanted to take it off to get a better look at whether the P-Trap was dry. So I unscrewed it. And it won't come off, but neither will it screw back down! Now I just want to screw it back down so we can have baths again, but nothing I try works.

I'm in the UK, the flat was built <20 years ago. This is the actual drain cover:
The cover itself doesn't screw into anything below, it just sits over the drain and should be held down by the screw in the middle, like this one:
The screw extends about an inch below the cover before entering where three black plastic spokes meet in the middle from the outside edge of the pipe. I can pull the cover up about 1cm, and wiggle it around. When I do, the black plastic pipe below moves around with it. If I try to tighten or loosen the screw, it just spins around and around. I've tried tightening and loosening the screw while lifting up the screw, while lifting up the cover, while hooking and lifting up the plastic spokes underneath, done all the above with and without pressing down extra hard on the screw... every combination I can think of. And nothing works.

One very weird thing: when I tighten the screw, pressing down on the screw while hooking and pulling up on the plastic, it does actually tighten! As long I maintain upward pressure on the plastic, the cover gets and stays pretty tight to the bath (though the screw never does stop turning). Then, as soon as I release pressure (from the coat hanger I'm using), the cover is loose again and I can pull it up easily. SO WEIRD.

I also noticed that when I unscrew, while pulling up on the plastic and pressing down hard on the screw, I can feel that it's at the end of its thread because once per turn there's a little pop as it passes the end of the thread and slips back down ever so slightly.

So there is definitely some threading, somewhere.

But it won't stay tight. And it won't screw out. I've tried pulling on it pretty hard and it won't give. Could probably put in a bit more force still, but don't want to completely break anything. I haven't yet tried taking off the bath side panel to have a look underneath - is that likely to help at all?

Any ideas for how to get this screwed back down would be very gratefully received. Really don't want to pay to get a professional out just to tighten a screw!

Update: just took off the side panels to have a look beneath the bath, and turns out this screw is all that holds the entire drain/shoe piping to the bottom of the bath! So the pipe was sitting ~1cm below the bath, and water was leaking out when there was a good flow going. Bodged it for now with elastic bands hooked from the drain cover to the taps... But it's starting to feel urgent now. Maybe I do need to call a plumber to tighten a screw for me... :,(
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Staff member
S. Mod
Gas Engineer
Sounds like you’ve broken the plastic thread underneath

need a new bath waste with overflow


If you can get access to below, then possibly you could still DIY it. The plumber will need access from below anyway to cut out the remaining plastic. And learn the lesson that those top plates should not be removed unless you are replacing the waste fitting.

If not, get a plumber. And if you get a plumber, get rid of that awful centre-screw bath waste and insist on an old-fashioned brass-bodied waste with backnut. It doesn't have the centre screw, less likely to block and, in my experience having actually timed it, proves what I have always supected: that those centre-screw types significantly restrict the flow. I always fit the backnut type.

As there are very few places that actually stock these, I'll give you the link of where you could easily get one. The quality of finish isn't great, but they are still better than the centre-screw type and I think you can get them with a metal plug if that's your thing. I'm sure a plumber will be happy to fit if you supply, though it does take a little working out which bits go where and where to apply silicone sealant: Bath Waste Overflow - Backnut, Black Plug 1.1/2 - https://www.bes.co.uk/bath-waste-overflow-backnut-black-plug-11-2-10261/
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If I try to do it myself, and I stick with the centre-screw design despite its problems, can I install without using sealant? This guy on youtube doesn't seem to use sealant. And it's the sealant where I would least trust myself to DIY it. If it's literally just a question of screwing some things together (and if I can find a tool to cut this old screw off), maybe I could do it...
OH MY GOD I think I fixed it. I decided if I was going to replace the part anyway, and if the plastic was so soft that its thread would strip so easily, and I'm not sure I have a tool that could cut the screw, I may as well try grabbing on the captive screw with some adjustable pliers and just pull as hard as I possibly could. See if I could just pull it out from the plastic.

So I pulled and pulled and pulled. No luck getting it out. But I noticed that the screw was staying standing up, very high. Tried pushing it back down. Wouldn't budge. Tried screwing it back down... and it screwed tight! So somehow I pulled the screw into the plastic until it bit into it. I guess if it's a captive screw, it only has thread on the bottom part of the screw. It must be that the bottom of the plastic threading shredded, so the top of the screw's threading had nothing to bite, but by pulling the screw up with force the top of the screw's thread bit into the plastic threading higher up. Or something.

Anyway, seems pretty good now. Very slight wetness around the shoe washer on the underside when I run water, so I should probably buy some silicon to seal that fully. But I think I'm good. Thanks for the help folks, you gave me the motivation to keep trying things, and eventually get there in the end!

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