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What are the Best Tips for Removing a Bathtub?

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  • Written By: Von Shanks
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Removing a bathtub can be a significant part of a bathroom remodel. Avoiding shortcuts and doing the job properly will ensure the best results. Depending on where one lives, city ordinances may require a building permit prior to removing a bathtub and a final inspection once the job is done, especially if piping is to be removed or replaced in the process. That means removing a bathtub starts with a call the local building department to check on requirements. From there, one should turn off the water, disconnect the pipes and any caulking holding the tub in place, and remove the tub.

Start by turning off the water, either specifically to the pipes leading to the bathtub faucets or — as an extra precaution — to the entire bathroom. Any wall panels that would provide access to the bathtub pipes and fittings should be opened. Otherwise, a hole should be cut in the wall to allow access to the pipes, being careful not to damage the pipes in the process. Once access is obtained, an adjustable wrench should be used to disconnect the bathtub drain, the waste pipe and the overflow pipe. Any fixtures fitted inside the bathtub instead of in the wall should be disconnected and removed.

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After any caulking sealing the tub to the wall has been peeled away, removing clips that hold the bathtub to the wall may require the removal of around 4 inches (10 cm) of the wall just above the tub. Using a crowbar, one can start to loosen the bathtub from the fasteners around the entire length of the tub. Once the clips are loose, removing the bathtub should be a matter of gently sliding it out. Removing a bathtub is not a job for one person; bathtubs are very heavy, so it will take at least two people to slide it from the wall. From there, it's a matter of making it fit through the bathroom door, if it is being entirely removed and not just repositioned.

Once the old tub is removed, the new tub is ready to be installed. The new tub should be the same size as the old one, unless a complete remodel of the piping and fittings is planned. If the new tub is the same size as the old one it should slide into place the way the old one slid out.

The new tub and the piping should be carefully aligned and the tub leveled. This can be done by placing a construction level on the rim of the tub and adding shims under the tub where needed to level it out. Once the tub is level and the pipes aligned, fasten the clips that hold the tub in place and connect the pipes and faucets accordingly.

If an inspection of the work is needed by the city building department, schedule this before continuing with wall replacement. Inspectors will need to see the piping and installation work before giving a pass on the inspection. Once this is completed, if needed at all, continue with the next step. Replace the parts of the wall that were removed and apply finishing. Replace the wallboard or tiles, if needed, and run a seam of caulking around the tub to seal the tub and protect the wall.

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