Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Installing a new tub

OK OK - not exactly a post related to cruising, but I thought it might be helpful to someone to share some of our experiences putting in two new bathtubs in my friend Ian's house. I am staying with Ian after having rented our house in Duncan on my way out to Nova Scotia.

Old tub - does not look too bad in picture but is quite worn and has been recoated once already...

 One thing that many articles and videos on Youtube neglect to cover in any detail is how to get out the old tub and how to put the new one in. Here are a few pointers I have picked up during the 3 tub installs I have done in the last year.

New tub - Ian with my niece's bear who assisted with the installs.
The order of destruction/construction is roughly:

Rip off tiles or old surround. Tile removal is therapeutic according to Ian...

Removing old tiles

Correct technique for removing tiles.
Cut away any wet drywall (we found that water had made its way behind the tiles (perhaps through unsealed grout). Scrape off old adhesive to make wall reasonably level.

Wall scraped to make even for installing the surround - note dry wall removed well above plumbing
to allow us to remove and install the tubs by swinging them up and into this space.

Cut away a piece of drywall at the tap end of the tub to a height of about 36 to 40 inches above the tub lip. Remove any insulation and vapour barrier and save to re-install later. This provides access to the plumbing and allows room for you to swing the new tub into place, allowing the skirt to clear the wall. You need room between the two end wall equal to the length of the diagonal of the new tub and this provides enough length, at least for a 20 inch high tub...

Measuring diagonal to see how much space we need to swing the tub through.

Cut away the drywall along the back length and foot of the tub up at least a couple of inches higher than the taller of the new/old tubs. Again - This allows you to tilt the tub away from the wall to help as you swing the old tub out and the new tub.

Old plumbing - Note drywall, insulation, and vapour barrier have been removed.
We will remove the valve assemblies to allow the tub to swing past.
Disconnect the drain by unscrewing the flange inside the tub. One way to do this is to insert a wrench or adjustable slip jaw pliers and use another pair of pliers or wrench at right angles as a handle. Unscrew the overflow plate. Turn off the water and unscrew the taps and faucet. You will need to remove the handles first...

You should now be able to lift the end of the tub beside the plumbing, tilting it slightly out from the back wall and wiggling it free of the drywall. You may have to work a bit to make it clear the old plumbing. If it will not clear this, you may need to cut the old plumbing taps out.

You will need to measure and put together a drain/overflow assembly for the new tub based on the dimensions and location of the drain overflow cutouts in the tub and the position of the drain pipe in the floor. The latter was a problem for us and required cutting old drain pipe (1.5" ABS plastic) and moving the drain location to line up with the tub overflow pipe. We assembled the plumbing at the tub and welded this with ABS cement and then attached the this to the newly positioned floor drain in the bathroom.

Now is also a good time to redo the faucet and taps, perhaps moving to a single tap installation. This required us to do a lot of copper cutting, joining, and soldering. We used an old baking sheet to protect the wood from being scorched and cut the old copper with a hacksaw. A pipe cutter would have been nice.

New faucet installed - lots of copper joints but quite easy to do it yourself with an appropriate torch.

The new tub may be quite a bit deeper than the old. This can make it tricky to install, but if you have cut away the drywall on the plumbing wall to a good height, you should be able to install the tub by swing it down from an on-end position with the high end swinging down into the cavity you have made in the plumbing wall. Again a slight twisting out from the wall may be needed until the tub is almost down flat.

Hook up the drain plumbing being careful to compress the gaskets evenly to get a good seal.

Finally, you will want to shim the tub's supports (for us this involved feet in one tub and rails in another. Because of the skirt, it is very hard to reach the feet to shim, so we cut an access in the drywall along the back of the tub to let us reach in and place a shim. You may be able to avoid this by initially cutting away at least 2 inches of drywall all around the top of the tub so that you can temporarily lift the tub to slide in the thin wood shims. 

Checking for leaks
Fill the tub with water and check for leaks (a long arm helps as you have to reach behind the tub for this. Fill up so the overflow overflows, too...

While the tub is full, secure the lip via drywall screws either through the lip or immediately above it, depending on the type of tub.

When replacing the drywall, use a product designed specifically for this purpose - not regular drywall. We found some very nice fibreglass faced panels that are 5 feet by 32" - 2 of these did the 2 bathrooms and are easier to fit in a car than the 4 X 8 sheets. We cut them using a knife and straight edge. 

We put in a polystyrene tub surround, too. Use a cardboard template to position cutouts for tap, faucet and shower and don't forget to cut out holes for the cover plate screws to go through.

PL 700 adhesive applied to back of new surround panel

New surround in place.