What are the Steps I Should Follow While Removing a Bathtub from My Bathroom?

Removing a BathtubWhen it comes time to remodel your bathroom, you will likely need to remove the bathtub from the area while you perform the structural work. To accomplish this feat without it becoming a costly and time-consuming ordeal, you must go through the proper steps in order. Otherwise, missteps could cause water damage or structural issues that take an enormous amount of time, money and effort to rectify.

While removing a bathtub, you must keep its overall weight and material strength in mind to avoid causing damage to its structure or your home. Furthermore, you must pay close attention to the connected parts, such as the water supply lines, drain pipes and overflow valve, to prevent damage to your bathroom space. Use the following guide to adequately plan the bathtub removal process during your bathroom remodel project.

Step 1: Shut Off the Main Water Supply

As with any home renovation project involving the fresh water supply lines, you must turn off the main supply valve before disconnecting the plumbing components. Although the shut off valve behind the toilet will turn off water going to the bathroom, it does not always deactivate the lines serving the bathtub components. Instead, you should locate the main valve outside your house to ensure the lines going to the bathtub will not leak water during this project.

If you have not previously located this valve, you may have to search around a bit to find it. In some homes, this valve is located down in the basement or along the outer wall. For others, the main supply valve is actually situated under a metal plate near the curb or at the edge of the yard.  You can locate a hidden shutoff valve by following the cold water line on the water heater backward until you find the valve.

Once you’ve located this valve, turn it clockwise until it reaches a full stop to turn off the water to your bathtub. Turn on your bathroom sink to drain pressure in the lines before proceeding with the bathtub removal project.

Step 2: Take Out the Bathtub Drain and Overflow Valve

You have to carefully remove the bathtub drain and overflow valve to disconnect the tub from its inner components. For this step, you must have a Phillips screwdriver, drain extractor tool and small prybar on hand.

To remove the overflow valve on the front inner edge of the tub, unscrew the two fasteners using a Phillips screwdriver.  Pull the overflow valve cover off the surface of the tub by carefully prying up the edge with your prybar. Disconnect the drain assembly fasteners to streamline the extraction process.

Place the drain extractor tool into the drain and turn it counterclockwise to set the threads. Continue slowly turning the extractor until you feel the drain release from the tub material. This process can take several minutes since these drains have at least an inch of threads on their attachment surface.

Step 3: Reach the Underside of the Bathtub and Remove the Drain Pipes

You will need to analyze the structure of your home to determine the best way to reach the drain pipes at the underside of the bathtub. In some homes, you may be able to reach these pipes from the basement. In others, you must use a saw to cut a hole in the wall or floor to adequately reach these structures.

Once you’ve reached the pipes underneath your bathtub, you will use channel lock pliers to loosen and remove the fittings. Start with the lower fitting on the waste tee and move up the line to the drain shoe. You will need to disconnect and set aside enough of the pipes to keep these components from getting in the way during the removal process. You do not want to remove too many as that could increase the chance of leaks forming in the future unless you replace all the pipes and gaskets during the reinstallation process.

Step 4: Detach the Bathtub Basin from the Drywall

To streamline the tub removal process, you will need to use a saw to cut away about six inches of the drywall around the upper edge of the bathtub. Make sure the cuts are uniform and level to make the wall replacement process quick and easy after you replace the bathtub. Clear the drywall scraps out of the way and brush away the dust before continuing. You should carefully pry the fasteners away from the edges of the bathtub to prevent damage to its structure during the removal process.

Look around the edges of the tub for trim pieces or splash guards connected to the bathtub surface and the wall. Use your prybar and utility knife to remove these trim pieces. Grab your utility knife and cut straight down between the tub surface and wall to break the caulk seal around the edge. Repeat this process along the floor at the bottom edge of the bathtub to remove the caulk seal there as well.

Step 5: Remove Bathtub from the Bathroom

To physically remove bathtub structures from the bathroom, you should utilize a careful touch while employing heavy lifting practices. Depending on the material used in the construction of your bathtub, improper movement of this enormous structure could cause damage to adjacent bathroom materials or the tub itself.

Coming in at around 500 pounds, porcelain-covered cast iron, for example, can withstand bumps and jolts, but the materials it comes into contact with might not be so lucky. Fiberglass-reinforced tubs, on the other hand, require careful movement to prevent chips and cracks from appearing on the bathtub’s surface.

For most tubs, you can simply rotate the front edge of the tub up about a foot and slide 2×4 inch boards underneath to act as skids. Slide the bathtub out from its installation point and use a hand truck to remove it from the house or place it in your storage area.

If you are planning to refinish your bathtub to complete your bathroom renovation project, contact the team at Bath Pro Refinishing for professional assistance. You can use the online form or call 407-869-8696 for a free, no-obligation estimate.