How to Install a Plumbing Access Panel


Plumbing access panels used to be regularly included in home design. They were often unattractive, hinged doors that jutted out from the walls of bedrooms, living rooms and even dining rooms. Opting for aesthetics over function, fewer and fewer builders installed these panels. Today, such panels are the exception, when there's really no need for them to be. Not only have access panels improved in design and appearance, but anyone who has had plumbing problems knows that such an access panel may have made repairs much easier.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Utility knife
  • electric multi-tool (optional)
  • Metal ruler
  • Drywall saw
  • Plumbing access panel (prefabricated)
  • Construction adhesive
  • Locate the plumbing that you wish to access. Measure from the outside wall of the tub or shower to the faucet or shower head fixture. Measure up from the shower floor (allowing for the thickness of flooring material) to the faucet handles. This will give you the approximate location of shower and bathtub plumbing.

  • Go to the adjoining room and use your measurements. Mark the wall.

  • Use a stud finder to locate any studs in the wall. The stud finder may also locate copper pipes if your home has copper plumbing. Mark the location of studs.

  • Trace the inside perimeter of the access panel onto the wall. Use a utility knife and metal ruler to cut through the sheet rock paper.

  • Cut through the sheet rock with a drywall saw. Be careful not to go deep since you do not want to hit wires or pipes. Sometimes you can cut using just the utility knife or an electric multi-tool. Remove the drywall. You should see your plumbing pipes.

  • Pre-fit the panel to make sure it slides into the hole snugly. Apply construction adhesive to the back of the panel lip. Slide the panel in place making sure there is good contact between the panel and the wall. Insert the plastic door.

Tips & Warnings

  • Plastic access doors come in many sizes and some are decorative. Most are plain and they are designed to be painted the same color as the wall.
  • Always wear eye and hand protection when using a saw.

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