Can't remove tub drain, tools too shallow

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by miamicanes, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. miamicanes

    miamicanes New Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    I'm stuck. I can't find a tool that can actually work with the drain on my bathtub. The problem is that it has a post in the middle that's about 3/8" longer than the cavity inside the dumbbell wrenches I've bought so far from Home Depot, Lowes and Harbor Freight. I can't cut it off, because it doesn't stick out above the drain far enough to use a hacksaw.

    I tried Plan B & used a cheap pair of pliers to stick a handle end down each side of the drain, then used a pipe wrench to try turning them. The only thing THAT achieved was a bent, now useless, pair of pliers. :(

    I *can* turn the post by gripping it hard with pliers and rotating it clockwise or counterclockwise, but it doesn't seem to do anything besides rotate... it doesn't loosen, it doesn't tighten, and doesn't end up any higher or lower.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
  2. miamicanes

    miamicanes New Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Update: I managed to cut off the offending 3/8" so the dumbbell wrench from Home Depot now mostly fits. Unfortunately, I can NOT get it to turn. I had a friend holding the wrench (and pipe wrench being used to turn it) in place, climbed into the tub, and tried shoving the wrench with my heel (kind of like doing squats at the gym). Somehow, I managed to visibly bend the cast iron pipe wrench handle, and almost kicked my friend in the face when my foot slipped... the drain? It doesn't appear to have moved at all.

    Good god. Is it normally this hard to get a drain unscrewed from a tub? The videos on Youtube made it look straightforward and relatively easy... insert the dumbbell wrench, give it a good hard turn or two with a pipe wrench, and the whole thing neatly unscrews & comes out. The only thing stopping me from just trying to pry up the tub and cut it off from underneath is the possibility of cracking the drain pipe beyond the part that gets replaced by the new one anyway.

    Also... you turn the drain counter-clockwise to remove it, right? Or are there known to be weird drains that loosen when turned clockwise and tighten when turned counter-clockwise?

    If it matters, I think this drain was a twist-up type (the plug itself was gone when I bought the house).

    Update: Joy! I got it off. I tried the same approach as last time (sitting in the tub, using my heel to shove the pipe wrench handle like squats at the gym), but instead of my (now justifiably-paranoid) friend, I held it on top pf the drain with my right heel. I thought for sure the handle on the wrench was going to snap... but it worked!
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,759
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I wouldn't worry about hurting the pipe below if you are replacing the tub.

    These are removed by going counter clockwise, it's standard threading.

    If it's a cast iron tub, you can lay plastic over it, and break it with a sledge hammer.
    The plastic to to keep the porcelain shards from impaling you.
    Eye protection is a good idea too.
  4. miamicanes

    miamicanes New Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    Naw, the old tub is cultured marble. ;-)

    Kind of a bummer, though... I was trying to avoid damaging it so I could give it to some needy person on Craigslist (it was in decent condition), but after I got it pulled out, it ended up being so incredibly heavy, I let my friend talk me into cutting it up (he argued that if I tried getting it downstairs in one piece, I was going to end up damaging the stairway I spent lots of time and money redoing last year).

    I'm sure YOU know how heavy they are, but for the benefit of others reading this... a 42x72 cultured marble tub is so heavy, two adult men who both work out regularly could barely drag it "lightly" across the floor. There's no way two people could have safely gotten it down the stairs, and I'm convinced the builder must have had a crane & brought the tub in through the front bedroom's window (before the windows themselves were installed, and the interior walls were put up inside). I can't even imagine how a new cultured marble tub (if they still sold them) could have possibly gotten inside the house and up to the second floor today.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,245
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    A couple of things.
    1. If the pipe wrench was really "cast iron" it would have broke, not bent
    2. If you actually bent the wrench is was a VERY poor quality, since even a lousy wrench would have broken the piping under the tub before it bent.
    3. Given enough people the tub can be taken anywhere. (As long as it stays in the box until you get it there.

    We once had to take a 36x60x20 Kohler drop in tub up a winding stairway, without a railing". It took 4 of us to do it. Then we uncrated it so we could install it the next day. During the night the customer looked at it and decided they wanted a different tub. Getting the bathtub down the stairs when it was out of the crate, with nothing to hold onto it by, was a real nervewracking chore. Especially since any mistep would result in a worker or the tub going over the edge of the stairway.
  6. miamicanes

    miamicanes New Member

    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    Pembroke Pines, FL
    > 1. If the pipe wrench was really "cast iron" it would have broke, not bent

    Good point. I guess it was just low-quality Chinese steel.

    > 2. If you actually bent the wrench is was a VERY poor quality, since even a
    > lousy wrench would have broken the piping under the tub before it bent.

    It was $2.99 from Harbor Freight. Objectively, it's hard to imagine how it could have possibly been made any lower quality than it was. ;-)

    > 3. Given enough people the tub can be taken anywhere.
    > (As long as it stays in the box until you get it there.

    Even if the box says multiple times on every printed surface, "This end MUST be up"? Or is it only acrylic (& maybe fiberglass) tubs that are THAT fragile? The new tub basically had to be carried up sideways, and standing on one end from the upstairs landing to the bathroom. Otherwise, it never would have made it past the railing, through the 3' wide hallway, or through the 32 x 80 doorway into the bathroom. ;-)
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,802
    Location:
    New England
    A tub is often one of the first things installed, or at least located when building a house. Especially if it is one of the one-piece jobs with walls.
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