Bathtub Hidden Stopper Repair

Cast iron tub with hidden stopper down the overflow tube.
The stopper was jammed (probably from lack of use; I mostly take showers). I tried loosening with penetrating oil (Lime-Away, too) but to no avail and now the reach rod has broken free of the stopper from pulling too hard. I believe the normal thing would be to reach down with a coat hanger wire formed into a hook but that's not going to be effective with a stuck stopper. How can I loosen it so that has a chance of working?
I'm thinking of running HCl down from the overflow to eat up any scale but the stopper itself is (if I recall) brass so this might make things worse. The stopper and passage way is going to have to be very loose for it to be picked up with a hook.
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wrote:

do the job once and do it right, replace the entire assembly which is part of the overflow drain. you will need access to the tub where the overflow is and underneath. you will likely find a old rotten drain line unless its plastic
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Sadly, no. Concrete slab floor and what's more, on the other side of the this lav is another one, a little larger and the sinks, toilet, and bathtub are back to back with each other.
Just to be clear, this is not a pop-up stopper. It's a hidden plug that drops down in the overflow passage way. Even with access I don't know if there is anything to disassemble from below or behind.
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On Sat, 24 Mar 2012 12:23:22 -0500, Steve Kraus

Concrete slab or not, there has to be some way to get to the drain pipes under there. It's not like they poured the floor after the tub was installed. Unfortunately as a last resort, you'll have to remove the tub. Hopefully you wont have to do that.

Why not take off the overflow pipes and see if you can get it out from there. Once it's out, leave it out and get a plain old rubber plug. Some of those contraptions are more trouble than they are worth.
I'm having a problem understanding what you have in there. See if you can find a webpage with a drawing of the thing or exploded view. There is likely one on there. Then post the url. It sure sounds like a popup stopper to me??????
By the way, they sell a device that works similar to a popup stopper, except you step on it to close it, and step a second time to open it. It mounts right into the drain, and dont have all kinds of levers and rods to get stuck or break. That might work as a replacement, if you're the kind of guy what dont want a rubber plug. (Myself, I'll stick with the rubber plugs.... simple, cheap, and easy to use, as long as the kids or dog dont run off with them).
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No, there is no access. The tub drain goes down into the slab then sideways to a drum trap adjacent to it (there's an access plug). The tub is boxed in on three sides by walls and as I've said, the head wall is back to back with a similarly installed tub in the other lav.

What pipes? I dont know if the overflow is a pipe or cast into the tub. Seems like the latter since the plug has to drop down there from the overflow opening which is where the control trip lever is...so it can't just any old pipe. It has to have a precise fitting where the plug blocks the water flow when it's down and unblocks when it's up.

No, it's not a pop up. You do not see anything move other than the trip lever that you push up or down and that is located at the overflow drain cover. The drain itself has no moving parts. It's just a little grill covering the opening.
Thank you for writing but I'm hoping to hear from someone familiar with this type of drain. As you asked here is a diagram. It's the one on the right. As you see, there is no visible mechanism other than the trip lever, which is similar to that of the pop up drain on the left.
http://www.mrdrain.com/images/tubs_04.png
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Break down your options:
1. You mentioned hooking the stopper and pulling it out. The fact that you already tried that and broke off the wire means that you have to hook something pretty strong to the stopper and try pulling again. I think doing that blind is going to be very hard. So, remote camera on a flexible hose, some kind of hard steel hook and strong wire. The remote camera, etc. means call in a professional.
2. Physical access to the back side of the tub means breaking into the wall between the 2 tubs. That will give you about 5 inches of gap between the tubs. Whether that will lead to access and repair is unknown until you open it up and look.
3. Tub replacement. A sure fix and step 2 may lead up to the third option.
--
Dan Espen

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On 3/25/2012 11:37 AM, Dan Espen wrote:

If he has make/model should be able to find installation sheet. Generally, there _is_ a way even if not apparent.
I had one similar that I eventually did manage to get apart but it's been almost 30 yr and I no longer remember the specifics well enough to coach from memory. Seems like it was similar to a basin wrench to get to the seat as best I can recall...
The thing to remember is that it had to go in... :)
--
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On Mar 24, 3:25pm, snipped-for-privacy@toyotamail.com wrote:

When I replaced my tub a few years ago I installed one of those fancy "foot activated" stoppers.
With three females, all with long hair, using that tub ever day, it was a bad mistake.
With no strainer on top of the drain to catch the hair, it goes down the drain and gets caught on the cross bars just below the foot activated top. Every few month I had to disassemble to the top of the drain to get to the clump of hair.
After doing that something like 4 times in the first year, I took the foot activated stopper out and installed a standard pop-up.
Now the ladies can just remove the hair from the top the strainer when they are done showering.
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On 3/24/2012 11:02 AM, Steve Kraus wrote:

Try a sizable dose of crystal Drano or the like then add hot water and let it work (wear eye protection and gloves, obviously). Let stand at least 24 hr or longer if can and see if can break it loose then.
--
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wrote:

Have you tried pushing the stopper down to free it?
Since it's so stuck that pulling up resulted in a broken linkage, perhaps you could free it up by pushing it down, then pulling it up.
If that doesn't work, I don't see too many options other than disassembly. Since you've mentioned that access is not readily available, you seem to be in a bit of a pickle.
I wish you luck!
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On 3/25/2012 5:57 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

There comes a time when every DIY skilled person needs professional help. I think that your situation calls for a plumber. -- Peace, bobJ
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Ahh...the joys of access panels!
A few years ago I replaced my entire drain assembly from the access panel in the hallway.
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Yesterday I went to work on the one that is stuck up but not broken. I tried NaOH drain cleaner, strong HCl, ice water on the theory that brass (the plug) has a greater coefficient of expansion than iron (the pipe), and boiling water on theory that I might as well try everything. I was using a piece of garden hose with a funnel down the overflow to apply these liquids and that's also a good way to push on the plug. No significant help.
But when I gave up and decided to close it up I found that the trip lever was now able to move the plug up and down. Not easily and I could not pull the plug all the way up and out but if it's working where it needs to, case closed.
So far similar techniques have not budged the other one. Someone asked if I could make it go down since the connection broke trying to pull it up. No, originally I was trying to push it down as well as up and could not get it to do either. One thing I fear right now is that I end up dropping it into the closed position. As things stand now I still have a usable shower and with a little effort to close the drain with something, even a bathtub. If I drop it closed I'm screwed. There's always the danger if the thing drops only because I push hard on it that snagging it with a coat hanger wire might not be able to urge it back up to open the drain. So I must proceed thoughtfully.
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wrote:

Foolishness, the overflow tube, waste arm, fitting and plunger are all made of brass if they are metal -- any ductile or cast iron drain piping wouldn't begin until the connection out of the fitting which you are trying to blindly detarnish/degunkify/descale...
~~ Evan
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Bob. a common problem with people who complain of "slow tub drains" is a plunger with an improperly adjusted rod which allows the plunger to partially restrict the drain even when it should be fully retracted...
~~ Evan
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