View Full Version : Access panels kohler whirlpool alcove

01-15-2008, 10:29 AM

I'm planning a bath room remodel and I'm trying to determine which tub I can use. I'd like to install a Kohler cast iron whirlpool (Mendota model) in a three wall alcove. Due to the layout of the room I can only have one access panel. The motor is located at the the end opposite the drain. Do I need an access panel for the plumbing? Do I need (by code, I'm in Los Angeles) an access panel for the motor? The wall that abuts the area where the bath tub will be contains a built in linen closet with a set of drawers on the bottom half. Theoretically you'd be able to remove the drawers and ,if I remove the existing wall, access the motor if needed. It'd be a tight squeeze, but possible. Does any one have any thoughts?
My other option would be to use an acrylic tub with a removable front panel, though if possible I'd rather use cast iron.

Thanks for your help,


01-15-2008, 04:30 PM
Generally, you need an access panel for the motor. You don't have to have one for the plumbing end, but you'll be happier if you do when it comes time for maintenance. As to what is required - I'm pretty sure the inspector will want to see the motor electrical hookup in the final, so that would need a panel. Probably wouldn't need to see the wet end in the final. What does the installation instruction sheet say? Local codes generally require it to be installed per the manufacturer's instructions.

01-16-2008, 05:49 AM
If the plumbing is installed correctly all maintenance will be done from outside the wall so no access is required for it. The motor is going to fail some day, so you must have a means to remove it or service it. And if the motor is plugged into a GFCI outlet under the tub, which is the way some electricians do it, you may need access quite frequently if it starts false tripping.

01-16-2008, 11:22 AM
Kohler's installation guide says - "Install an access panel to allow the pump to be serviced".

So even thought the wall is finished (tiled) the plumbing can still be serviced if needed?

Also, and this is more of a design question, is there a "correct orientation" for the tub? If I go with the cast iron tub (any opinions on cast vs acrylic?) I'll have to use a tub with the drain on the right hand side. It "feels" awkward to me to have the shower controls so near the door.

Thanks for the help


01-16-2008, 11:56 AM
The valves typically can be serviced through the tub side; they rarely can be changed from there without destroying some of the tile, though. So, you'd be able to replace a cartridge for example, but not replace the valve. If you developed a pipe leak, you'd have to tear up some wall and an access panel may not be big enough.

If the back side is going to be tiled as well and you decide you do want an access panel, www.schluter.com (http://www.schluter.com) makes some tile-in magnetic brackets. You'd then use grout colored caulk around the tiled panel. If you ever needed to open things up, you'd cut out the caulk, remove the panel and fix it, then snap it back in place and recaulk.

If you had a problem with the drain, you'd have to either get it from the ceiling below, or have an access panel. Using good materials, that may not happen in your lifetime or until the next remodel.

01-18-2008, 03:32 PM
Note that the pump access must be large enough to allow one to remove and replace the pump , if necessary.

01-19-2008, 02:18 PM
I installed a 72inch Kohler Mariposa whirlpool, it is fiberglass and very sound/strong. It was layed into a bed of structo-lite, and the floor of the tub feels like cast iron. I installed a kohler panel in front for service, the panel has "cheesey" fasteners..i.e. velcro, but works well and gives complete access underneath. I think you will be happy if you can get thru the installation OK.