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Thread: Bathroom Remodel: Tub Drain and Plumbing Problems

  1. #1
    Engineer John235's Avatar
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    Default Bathroom Remodel: Tub Drain and Plumbing Problems

    After purchasing a house a few months ago, I decided today was the day to remove the 18 year old fiberglass all-in-one tub/surround and replace it with a standard tub and tiled surround. I've done two full bath remodels in a previous home that were fairly straightforward, but this one has a couple new issues right from the start. The image below shows what was behind the fiberglass enclosure.

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    The first thing I noticed was the drain and overflow are not in the proper position for any of the new tubs I'm considering. There's no room below the tee to cut and replace either. I guess my only option is to start chipping away at the concrete around the tee and see what is below. Hopefully I will be able to move the drain to the correct location.

    The second issue is the 3/4" copper supply lines run in front of the studs in the corner of what will be the back wall of the tub. There isn't any room to reroute them in the corner. Should I build a triangular box around them, tile it, and use it as a built-out shelf? Do you see any other options?

    Thanks,
    John
    Mesa, AZ

  2. #2
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    I've found that before on my remodels.....it makes me want to cry when I find them coming out of the slab because there is no way to correct it but to break the concrete out and move the pipes. Adds alot time to the job.

    If you do not want to relocate the pipes which would involve a bit of copper pipe work,sure you could box around them.

    If the drain needs to be relocated just break the concrete out and cut the trap off. Installa new trap in the proper location. Drains are usually a bit easier to move in this situation than the water pipes.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    There is ALWAYS room to reroute them into the corner. You have to do quite a bit of repiping anyway since the water to the valve is outside the studs. As a last resort, if putting them into the corner taxes your abilities, drop them down below the rim of the tub and then extend them to the faucet by going around outside of the corner.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    A tile surround is now "standard"?

    You've done 2 full bathroom remodels and haven't had to touch the plumbing whatsoever? Don't they call that decorating when you paint the walls and change out a countertop?

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Sometimes you have to stop looking at what is there.
    Envision what you want to be there and make it so.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Exactly.

    I don't see any "problems", just a bit of work...

    It makes me wonder sometimes, what people think will be behind walls and showers before they rip them out.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Many times we have to move a p-trap in the ground for the new tub installation.

    hj's idea of dropping the pipes below the rim of the tub is good.
    This way you can avoid the wood in the corner, similar to what was achieved above with the fiberglass enclosure.
    The valve will need moving back into the wall, and I would replace it at this time with a single handle pressure balanced valve. A Major brand that provides parts in the future.

  8. #8
    Engineer John235's Avatar
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    Thanks for the ideas. I should have been a little more clear in my original post. I planned on replacing the valve and setting it back to allow for the surrounds to be flush with the studs. I've done this before and just takes a little patience. I like the idea of dropping the larger lines to below the tub rim and then bringing them back up. This shouldn't be a problem now.

    My biggest concern and of which I have no experience is chipping out concrete in the slab and repositioning the drain. My previous two remodels had the drain in the correct place (since they were standard cast iron tubs that I removed and replaced due to significant enamel chipping). Since I've only done this twice before and it was a few years ago, I figured I would ask some experts instead of the hardware store guys to make sure I'm doing it right.

    I'm going to start chipping away now and see what I find.

    From what I've read on the forum, if there is no access panel I must use permanently glued fittings for the drain. Does this apply to the overflow too? A slip fitting overflow would make things a lot simpler to line up when setting the tub.

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John235 View Post
    Thanks for the ideas. I should have been a little more clear in my original post. I planned on replacing the valve and setting it back to allow for the surrounds to be flush with the studs. I've done this before and just takes a little patience. I like the idea of dropping the larger lines to below the tub rim and then bringing them back up. This shouldn't be a problem now.

    My biggest concern and of which I have no experience is chipping out concrete in the slab and repositioning the drain. My previous two remodels had the drain in the correct place (since they were standard cast iron tubs that I removed and replaced due to significant enamel chipping). Since I've only done this twice before and it was a few years ago, I figured I would ask some experts instead of the hardware store guys to make sure I'm doing it right.

    I'm going to start chipping away now and see what I find.

    From what I've read on the forum, if there is no access panel I must use permanently glued fittings for the drain. Does this apply to the overflow too? A slip fitting overflow would make things a lot simpler to line up when setting the tub.

    Thanks.
    If there is no access panel I use sch 40 solvent weld waste and overflow.

  10. #10
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You were very lucky on the previous remodels...the drains rarely line up when replacing tubs! You may find that there's not much concrete in the area around the trap. Often when they pour the slab, they leave a boxed out area, then, once the trap is placed, they fill it in to help prevent termites, and other things getting in.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Do you own a hammer?

    See how thick that round looking area around where the trap is buried actually is.

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    Engineer John235's Avatar
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    I chipped out about 2" just below the tee. There is some bubble wrap around the vertical pipe. Do I need to keep chipping until I find the P trap or could I cut it off near the bubble wrap, weld on a couple, then a tee and use a series of fittings to get my proper positioning like what is already there? If I keep going, should the P trap be in the dirt or would it be covered in cement or concrete? I'm a little over 5" deep from the top of the slab. Thanks. Name:  Chipped Away.jpg
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    You need to keep going. Thats not enough room to make an offset and I dont like offsets there anyway. break that whole area out......notice I didn't say chip. Make some room to work,concrete is cheap.

    Thanks for posting the pics. Good quality too.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Your best bet is a straight drop into the trap, you don't want offsets unless absolutely necessary.

    This isn't a big deal, it might be more than you're used to, but as far as plumbing projects go this is fairly straight forward.

  15. #15
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    If a tub drain ever needs to be snaked there is no way to go through the tub shoe, so one must go through the overflow. When the drain connection is made properly, the overflow will drop straight down to the trap with no offset. To do it right you will probably need to cut the trap off the drain line and install a new one.

    Once you get through the concrete, you can use a shop vac and a screwdriver or whatever to loosen and suck out the dirt around the trap. You want a nice open area to work so that you will not be dropping dirt into your glued joints as you reassemble everything.

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