Installing a bathtub can be a complicated job if the circumstances aren't just right. Replacing an old bathtub can be a simple matter of prying out the old bathtub and putting a new one in its place with no muss or fuss, or it can be a job requiring you to open a wall to complete the process. Add the helper needed for moving heavy bathtubs around and the possible requirements of a plumber and this becomes a major DIY project. But by following a few guidelines, the project is still well within the abilities of the DIY enthusiast.
Removing the Old Bathtub
The positioning of your old bathtub will largely influence the difficulty factor involved in removing your old bathtub. If the bathtub is freestanding, likely all you'll have to do is disconnect the pipes and fittings and slide the bathtub right out of the area. If your bathtub is in an enclosed area, such as sandwiched between walls, the pipes and fittings may be a bit more difficult to reach and may require you to cut into the walls of the bathroom to remove them. Other fixtures in the room like the sink or lavatory may also be in the way of bathtub removal, and will have to be removed as obstacles before continuing. Turn off all water to the area before beginning.
Locate the pipes and fittings for your bathtub. These should be behind an access panel in the fixture wall above your bathtub. Remove the access panel to get at the fittings. If there is no access panel the fixtures will likely be located behind a gypsum wallboard which can be easily removed. Disconnect the bathtub drain and supply pipes. And then remove the bathtub from its present location. When removing the bathtub, get the aid of a helper as it will be heavy. Also protect the floor of the bathroom by placing a piece of plywood down so moving the bathtub will not cause any damage.
If you have to do excessive work on the pipes in order to remove the bathtub, such as cutting them, it may be a good idea to get a plumber's help, as the pipes will have to be replaced when installing the new bathtub.
Installing the New Bathtub
Before installing the new bathtub, make sure the area you're placing the bathtub in has been properly prepared. The mortar or floorboards the old bathtub rested on may be damaged and need replacement. The bathtub you've chosen may also need a foam bed to lie on. Check with the manufacturer and see what's needed before proceeding, and them prepare the installation area accordingly.
Reverse the removal process to install the new bathtub. With plywood protection in place and the helper at hand, place the new bathtub into the proper location, aligning the water supply and drainage system. Use shims under the bottom of the bathtub if necessary to level and steady the bathtub completely.
Connect the water supply and drainage system to the new bathtub. The drain should be seated in plumber's putty before completing the connection to avoid leaks, and joint compound should be used on the male threads of the water supply fixtures to seal them. When the pipes have been connected, attach the faucet handles and the water spout.
Replace the access board or the wallboard to hide the fixtures. If you need to replace the wallboard, use a water-resistant gypsum board. Tape the board and apply joint compound at the connection, sanding it smooth. Finish the wall, making a mark at the base of the wall to show the location of the board's edges for later ease of removal if you have to work with the fixtures again. Tile or paint the wall to match others in the bathroom and then enjoy your new bathtub.
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