Bathtub drain flange "not removable?"

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Daniel Schwarz, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. Daniel Schwarz

    Daniel Schwarz New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    New York
    Hi,

    I live in an apartment - built in 1959 - with the original tub. All bathroom fixtures have been replaced except the tub drain flange. I'd like to replace it as it is corroded and nasty looking (the tub drain also has a slow leak.) I asked the building super about this and he said that the tub drain flanges are "not replaceable" except by going to the apartment below and breaking through their ceiling to expose the piping. I asked him if he's ever tried to change one out from above and he said "no". I'm slightly skeptical of this as it seems that most if not all drain flanges are removable, no?

    The tub has a drain open/close toggle. The crossbars inside the drain flange are rusty but intact.

    What's your advice on how to proceed? I have no intention of breaking through my neighbor's ceiling to do the changeout. I don't want to put my existing plumbing at risk. Worst case I could buy an oversized strainer, screw it down and leave it at that. But it'd be nice to fix tis the right way if I can do so economically.

    Any thoughts?

    Dan
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    There's more than one type of strainer...some may just have a screw in the middle, but others may actually thread into the shoe below. They make a special tool to remove that type of strainer, but on one that has been in there for half a century, there's no guarantee it will come out without breaking something, either it, or something down below you can't see. Then, you may find that the threads on a new one may not fit the shoe below. ANy time you disturb plumbing fixtures that old, you risk something finally giving way. As a renter, you'd entail huge risks if you tried this yourself and then created a leak - BIG liability. You probably won't get the super to replace it unless it breaks.
  3. Daniel Schwarz

    Daniel Schwarz New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    New York
    Couple of pictures of the drain for your reference

    IMG_20131017_141613.jpg IMG_20131017_141630.jpg
  4. Daniel Schwarz

    Daniel Schwarz New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    New York
    Thanks for the reply. Note that my original goal was not to replace the strainer (that comes out easily with one screw - I've removed it in the photos below). I wanted to replace the entire flange and I'm skeptical of the super's claims that it "can't be done." Point taken about the problems with disturbing old plumbing. I'm leaning towards simply replacing the strainer with a larger one that'll cover over the ugly drain flange entirely.
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,236
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    It will come out, but there is the possibility of damaging the tub shoe or the tub itself in the process. If the tub shoe gets damaged, then access for repair will be through the floor below.

    It's not yours. Why take a chance? If you were my tenant and you did anything to the plumbing, you would be looking for a new place to live.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    There is likely also a gasket under the tub sealing the shoe to the tub...disturbing one over 50-years old, could just cause it to come apart, and regardless of how tight you might get a new flange in (if you can find a new one that fits!), it may never seal. The old brass stuff can be brittle or thin as the result of maybe using drain cleaners, making it more prone to break with any disturbance.

    The only time you really want to consider changing that is if you're going to replace the whole drain and overflow. Since it's working, I doubt you can talk the landlord/super or whatever to spend the money. You can try...
  7. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    398
    Location:
    California
    Do you have a lease/rental agreement with this super/manager/landlord? What does it say about "repair" and "replacements"?

    landlords are not quick to replace it if it ain't broken, for a good reason: it hurts the bottom line. The only time a landlord replaces something like this is when he/she feels that it will cost too much to replace the tenant.
  8. Daniel Schwarz

    Daniel Schwarz New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    New York
    I live in a NYC co-op, so essentially I own the place (it's something like a condo but the rules are different.) The super is under no obligation to replace things like this. I'd better not mess with it as the liability issues mentioned in this thread still apply.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on the style tub, and where the room's walls are, you may be able to reach the drain from the end wall, if you make a hole. It's a pain, but so is working over your head from below. The difference is, it would all be in your living space. Now, depending on the floor structure, what else is in that wall (at least some water supply pipes), and how big the hole is in the floor, you still might have issues getting to everything you need.

    If you were going to do this, my suggestion would be to replace the entire tub drain (which typically comes with the overflow assembly and trim). Also note, in many places (I wouldn't be surprised if NYC was one of them), the only people that can touch plumbing (or electrical) in a multi-family dwelling is a licensed professional. If he does it, and it leaks, you'd be relying on his liability insurance (check he has some active before hiring!), not yours, and keep out of the issues with city hall that might arise.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,249
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A "good plumber" could remove it without doing any damage, but I would not attempt to teach a homeowner how to do it using the Internet.
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