Bathtub stopper stuck - how do I 'unstick' it?

The past few days, my wife noticed that the bathtub wasn't draining properly when she was giving our daughter a bath. This had happened before, so I figured it was more than likely the linkage connecting the lever to the stopper (previously, it had loosened to the point where the lever was not having an affect on the stopper). When I pulled off the lever facing, the linkage fell down the drain! Worst yet, trying my best with a wire hanger, I couldn't fish out either that linkage, or the stopper to at least put it back in the 'open' position. Now, I'm stuck with a three year old bathtub/faucet, and a tub full of stinky baby bath water (don't worry - didn't throw the baby out..)
Any advice on going about getting this bad boy draining again? Was I right in trying to fish up the lever with the wire hanger, or is there a better way (tried a screwdriver with a magnetic probe, but no dice)? Luckily, if it comes to that - I have access to the underside of the bathtub (only positive to an unfinished basement), so if I need to get at the drain elbow I can.
Thanks in advance for any help, -John
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john wrote:

If there's no hope of snagging it from above, best is to get behind the tub wall, rather than below. Is there an access panel? In there you will find a TEE. The top of the TEE has the overflow tube connected with a slip nut. Undo the slip nut and pull the overflow tube out. The stopper will be right there.
Clean the gunk off and very lightly sand the brass parts to polish them.
Be sure the slip joint doesn't leak afterward (new washer) and check the gasket between overflow and back of the tub (replace).
Jim
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Jim-
Thanks for the quick reply (you weren't kidding with 'speedy' lol)
Unfortunately, the bottom access is the only one I have. I'd have to break sheet rock (and in a very visible place) in order to get behind the tee.. Looks more and more like I'm either going to be breaking wall or calling in the pros, because an hour of fishing yielded no success (not even a bite).
Thanks, -John

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john wrote:

Wellllllll....you might be able to completely remove the entire waste and overflow assy; that's the TEE with its outlet stub and the overflow tube. You'll have to look underneath to see how it is plumbed into the trap connection; if you're lucky, there might be a slip nut there too... But the tub drain ("shoe") would have to come out too.
Long shot, but maybe you can reach around from below and wiggle the overflow tube out of the TEE. Jim

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Got a shop vac? It might be worth a try to pull the stopper closer and then fish it out.

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Thanks all for the help and suggestions... as it turns out - I finally did end up fishing out the plunger, but to my dismay, there wasn't any drainage to follow!
I managed to borrow an electric snake from a friend, remove the elbow underneath the tub, and work my way down the line until I pulled out a ball of hair that could easily be a wig for someone with a very small head... Plumbing for dummies 101, but for me it was an experience. Guess I need to have the make sure the drain is more diligently guarded for hair from now on, and occasionally toss some chlorine bleach down the tubes to prevent buildup.
Thanks again for the assistance.
John

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john wrote:

LOL! Good story.
Pick up a "hair trap" at the hardware or variety store. White plastic thing, looks like a Martian space ship. Jim
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Your best bet is to lose the stopper and the linkage and buy an old fashioned rubber plug stopper that you manually insert when you want to stop the tub up. A plumber friend once told me that those linkage arrangements make a fortune for plumbers because they ALWAYS get clogged and genetrate a lot of revenue to come and fix them. All that gear in the flowpath is bad engineering and GUARANTEES a buildup of hair, soap, and other unmentionables.I have never understood the logic of these things. What's so hard about putting in a stopper when you want to fill the tub and removing it when you want the tub to empty?
Jim
On Tue, 09 Dec 2003 21:08:37 GMT, "john"

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