Bathroom Remodel: Tub Drain and Plumbing Problems

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by John235, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    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.

    Remodel 1.jpg

    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. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    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. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,226
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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.
  4. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    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?
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,236
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Sometimes you have to stop looking at what is there.
    Envision what you want to be there and make it so.
  6. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    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.
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,749
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    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. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    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.
  9. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    If there is no access panel I use sch 40 solvent weld waste and overflow.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,798
    Location:
    New England
    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.
  11. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Do you own a hammer?

    See how thick that round looking area around where the trap is buried actually is.
  12. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    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. Chipped Away.jpg
  13. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    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. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    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. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,236
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    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.
  16. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    I finally got a hold of an air chisel and began the excavation of the concrete around the tub drain. I found the p-trap. One half of it goes directly towards the wall and the other half makes a right turn just under the wall and I assume it attaches to the drain pipe there. This has turned from digging a big hole in the concrete to boring a hole under my wall directly under what appears to be load carrying beams. I'll have to make a pretty big hole and leave almost no support for about a foot lengthwise underneath the sill.

    Is this normal to have to excavate such a large portion under a wall? What is the best way to do this since I can't come in from the top? How am I going to clear the concrete on the far side of the drain tube since I can't get to it? Should I just make the drain work in the current location instead and cut it off a little lower and add two 45 degree fittings to make the overflow line up?

    Thanks

    (One portion of the p-trap is completely beneath the wall even though it doesn't look like it in the picture).
    DSCF2340.jpg
  17. liquidplumber

    liquidplumber In the Trades

    Messages:
    69
    Location:
    Gastonia NC
    Youre doing a fine job... cut out some of the 2x10 on the floor and take out all the concrete around the trap. All you need to do is chisel back far enough to cut the trap off and get a fitting on the pipe. That shouldnt be underneath that beam. Looks like your working in the footer or an overpour area for that beam... I thought I was the only one with luck like that...lol Keep going, success is within reach. Just like Hackney said, make a big hole, get some room to work!
  18. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    I finally got around to renting a demolition hammer and getting some room to work. The 2" drain line was almost entirely underneath the wall which was fun. I added a 2" p-trap and then came up vertically into a 2x2x1.5 tee with the 1.5" going to the tub drain and the 2" to 1.5" reducer above the tee going to the tub overflow. Is there any issue with this? It seems reasonable to me but I couldn't find anyone specifically posting about this for a tub/overflow setup.

    Also, when I back fill with cement, should I wrap the ABS with foam bubble wrap or just pour the cement directly over it.

    Thanks for the guidance.


    Drain.jpg
  19. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    You glued that all together already?

    That is quite the change of direction, more concrete removal would make it a straight shot.
  20. John235

    John235 Engineer

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    It's not glued yet.

    In order to get the trap in the right position, I would have needed to go another 6 inches or so to the right under the wall. There's not a lot of room in the corner to angle the demo hammer in that direction and it would require significantly more cutting of the studs and risk me putting the chisel through the drain pipe (I had a couple close calls). This seemed like a reasonable compromise to make everything fit.
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