Bathtub Removal Instructions


Bathroom remodeling projects are among the most costly home improvement projects to complete, next to kitchens. Remodeling a bathroom often includes replacing a worn out or lackluster bathtub. For many homeowners, completing demolition tasks such as removing an old tub themselves is a means of saving money on the overall project. But demolishing a bathtub is not as simple as demolishing a wall, since you must account for the plumbing fixtures and pipes, being cautious not to break these fixtures and case damage during the bathtub removal.

Things You'll Need

  • Eye goggles
  • Putty knife
  • Crowbar
  • Hammer
  • Work gloves
  • Plumber's wrench
  • Pry bar
  • Cold chisel
  • Saw
  • 1-inch-by-4-inch wood slats
  • Turn off the water to the bathroom where you are removing the tub. Depending on the construction of your home, you will do this by turning off a water main located in the garage or on the side of the property. It may be necessary to turn off all water in the house until the project is complete. Put on safety glasses to protect your eyes for the remainder of the removal.

  • Demolish the drywall above the head of the tub to expose the plumbing fixtures. You might have to peel up a tub liner first, using a putty knife, crowbar and other pry tools. Wear goggle to protect your eyes from flying debris, and use a hammer to puncture the drywall. Tear the remaining drywall with your hands. Do not remove any studs in the wall at this point. In order to avoid damaging pipes or plumbing, begin demolishing the wall from the top, nearest the ceiling, and proceed downward. Avoid directly hitting any area of the wall directly above the bathtub spout and fixture, as this is where the access panel and pipes are located.

  • Locate the access panel for the bathtub plumbing. The access panel is directly above the spout in the plumbing wall. You will recognize the panel because it covers the pipes. No pipes are exposed until the access panel has been removed. Once you have located the access panel, gently lift it out of the wall, exposing the pipes. In some newer homes, there may not be an access panel, thus removing the wall is all you need to do in order to expose the pipes on the plumbing wall.

  • Locate the tub drain in the wall. The tub drain will be a freestanding white pipe that is connected to the tub, and flows downward. Disconnect the drain at the joint nearest to the top of the drain. Use a large adjustable plumber's wrench to turn the joint to the left until the drain is disconnected. Below the drain, you will see a slip nut that connects the overflow pipe to the bathtub drain. Using the wrench, loosen the slip nut. All pipes are now disconnected from the tub.

  • Remove the wall covering around the bathtub. If the tub surround is tile, you will need to chisel off each piece of tile using a hammer and cold chisel. If the tub surround is vinyl or fiberglass, use a pry bar to remove the tub surround. Once you have pried the surface back about 4 inches, you will see clips that hold the surround in place. Remove the fasteners by either disengaging the exposed locking mechanism on the clip or cutting the clips with a hacksaw.

  • Pry the tub away from the wall. Place a piece of scrap wood behind the pry bar to protect the wall. Gently pry the tub away from the wall with the pry bar. Continue moving the tub away from the wall by pulling it with your hands; you may need a helper to do so. Once the tub is removed from the wall, the project is nearly complete.

  • Place some skids on the floor to protect the floor from being scratched or dented as you remove the tub. Use 1-inch-by-4-inch pieces of plywood and place them underneath the tub after it's disconnected from the wall. This helps the tub slide across the floor, eliminating the need to lift it. Slide the tub out of the bathroom. Dispose of the tub on your own by hauling it to a dump, demolished into pieces with a sledgehammer, or by having it hauled away by a plumber or contractor.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the tub does not move after you have pried it, the tub may still be connected to pipes. You can inspect this by checking the connections in the plumbing wall where the drainpipe is located. Disconnect all pipes and try again.
  • If you are unable to move the tub from the back wall, it may be necessary to take the tub through the plumbing wall. You will need to cut all of the pipes with a hacksaw before moving the tub this way.

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