by Roy Baller
(New York)

Removal of an old tub or shower requires planning, and sometimes a lot of hard work. If the tub is the old fashioned kind with legs, it probably is too big to go through the door size common in older homes. (Interior doors should be 36 inches wide, although a 32-inch door can be used where space is restricted).

Measure the tub to see if removing the legs and turning the tub on its side would permit it to pass through the door. If not, you will have to break up or cut up the tub. Older, footed tubs are cast iron and can be broken up with a sledge hammer. Wear a face mask. If you will be installing a new window, the required rough opening probably will be big enough to permit passing the tub through it.

Therefore, plan to remove the tub at the same time as you are making the opening for the new window.
Disengaging the Tub For the actual work of removing the tub, first turn off the water. Old-fashioned footed tubs are free standing; you can work around them to disconnect the faucets and to remove the plumbing. In the case of a tub that has been closed in to make it look more modern, you will have to tear off the plywood or other material used for the structure. and the covering applied to it. Some tubs have the plumbing inside a wall.

There should be an access door to permit reaching the plumbing. but this is not always the case. You may be able to cut an opening to install an access door. If the plumbing is in an out-side wall, and this is not uncommon. there is nothing to do but remove the ceramic tile or other covering. Then tear off the plaster and lath, or plasterboard. Leave the wall open until all plumbing has been done and checked for leaks.

"Built in" bathtubs have a flange that rests on a ledger strip and may be nailed to the strip. Elongated holes in the flange permit movement of the tub as it fills and empties. This kind of installation means that at least that part of the wall down next to the flange of the tub will have to be removed. Check the condition of the wallboard or plaster when you remove the section above the flange of the tub. If it is damp, it is very possible that the moisture has worked its way through the wall for several feet. The most practical thing to do is remove the wall covering completely both at the ends and the back of the tub and replace it with new surfacing. Use a waterproof plasterboard or a tile backer board, either of which will resist damage from any moisture that might seep in under the bottom row of tiles.

Tearing Out a Shower Removing an old shower is like removing a bathtub when you get down to the pan, where a flange will be under the wall covering and possibly on a ledger strip. If the pan is poured concrete, you will have to use a hammer and chisel and several hours of labor to break it up and remove
Because the walls of a shower are exposed to water much more than are the walls around a bathtub, you will do best to completely remove and replace all tile and wall material. Let the studs dry if they are damp. Replace the walls and then tile them. Use a waterproof plasterboard or tile backer board.

If the shower stall is metal or fiber-glass, you will have to tear it apart in whatever way you can. Be careful with both metal and fiberglass; you may encounter sharp edges. Wear gloves — heavy ones with leather palms. Even with a metal or fiberglass shower stall, check for water damage on the wall and the framing around the stall. Small leaks can allow a tremendous amount of water to seep through. If there is any sign of rotting in the framing and damage to the wall covering, replace the parts affected. It is a lot easier to do the work now.

Damaged Areas When the bathtub or shower stall has been removed, examine the flooring and joists under it. Small leaks or splashes of water over many years can cause extensive damage. Remove any damaged flooring and replace it. If the joists show water damage, but not extensive rotting, fit a length of 2 inch lumber the same size as the joists alongside the affected joists. Spike or bolt the new lumber to the existing joists. The reinforcing piece of lumber must be long enough to extend a foot or two beyond the damage.

For extensive rotting, cut out the bad sections and spike or bolt lengths of joist material on each side of the removed section. In many cases you must support the ends of the cut pieces until you have added the two new pieces. As an alternative, bolt or spike a length of joist alongside the rotted section of joist, then cut through the damaged joist. stopping at the new joist. This is possible because the floor is removed and you can saw from above. After cutting out the bad section, add a second length of joist on the other side of the damaged joist. The new lengths of joist should extend at least 3 feet beyond the section cut away. When replacing the flooring, allow for the offset of the new joists as you nail the flooring down. It might be possible to run some plumbing lines (new ones) up through the doubled joists for added support for the pipes.

If the floor has seemed somewhat flexible (that is, it bounces when you walk on it). installing additional joists will remove this problem.

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