Corroded bathtub in a concrete condo - solutions?

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by westendgirl, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. westendgirl

    westendgirl New Member

    Messages:
    4
    I recently bought a 25-year-old condo unit in a concrete building. Our tub is stripped to bare metal in a few places and the drain is rusted around the outside edges (looks surface-level). We had planned to replace the tub, but two plumbers have informed us that, if they cannot make a perfect fit, they would need to go to the suite below us to access the pipes. Unfortunately, our downstairs neighbour is an elderly man who suffers from a paranoia disorder -- there's no way he will allow us emergency access to the easement. Although we may have legal rights, I think accessing the tub this way would be a nightmare in terms of legal and logistical battles. As a result, we feel we have two options:

    1. Hire a tub refinisher to repair the tub glaze. However, would this prevent the drain from continuing to rust, or at least slow the process? (We're only planning to live here a few years.)
    2. Would it be possible to build a bit of a platform and insert an apronless drop-in tub? Would this provide enough space for a plumber to access the drain? When we talked to a plumber before, he seemed to think there was no solution to our problem, short of going through the suite below.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,488
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tub

    A good plumber should be able to make the existing drain work without going downstairs, unless the plumbing system has some uniqueness to it that prevents working on the pipes from your unit. Whetber refininishing is a good option depends on what material the tub is made of. Most of the time tubs with your problem are made of pressed steel and as such were not designed to be a long time installation.
  3. plumguy

    plumguy New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    MA
    I agree the plumber should be able to make the connection. Wether it is thru the wall on the side of the drain or preinstalling the waste and overflow before setting the tub. Ask the plumber this...How would you install a tub if it was on a concrete slab in a tight 5' bath??
  4. westendgirl

    westendgirl New Member

    Messages:
    4
    More details

    Thanks for your replies.

    I don't have access through the wall, since the plumbing is on the shared wall of the next condo. To get at that, we'd need to open up their tiles and things. We can't go from the adjacent side, because there is a concrete wall. Two separate plumbers said that, even without an apron, they wouldn't be able to reach the pipes from the open side (i.e. bathroom side) if they needed to reposition to ensure a tight fit. Since the building is concrete, the tightly set 5' tub does sit on a concrete slab. The metal drainpipe comes up through the concrete slab. Has this explanation helped at all?
  5. plumguy

    plumguy New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    MA
    Yes it has helped! Find a plumber capable and willing to do the job!
  6. westendgirl

    westendgirl New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Plumber willingness

    So why would two plumbers tell us that there's no way to do this without going through the suite below? I apologize for belabouring the point, but I don't understand why you think it's possible to solve when two plumbers who visited here said it isnt. Is there information I can give them to help them see the light?
  7. plumguy

    plumguy New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    MA
    Yes, Ask them the question I posted in thread #3.
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Without seeing it we cannot know for sure. Maybe your plumber has worked in your development before and knows something we don't.

    But in my limited experience with this type of building, it would be unusual for the waste arm of the tub to be buried in concrete. It is probably open in some way once the tub is removed. If this were not true, then access from below would not be possible either. Installing a new tub may then involve dry-fitting it in and out a few times as necessary adjustments are made; but it should be doable. Be aware that in any case, removal and replacement will involve some demolition finished walls. It may involve temporary removal of toilet or vanity, depending on room layout.

    If your tub is not rusted through, then refinishing would gain you 1 to 3 years. Proabably not more.

    For clarification; is your building actually structural concrete floors, or is it like my building, which is conventional wood frame construction, but poured lightweight concrete on the second floor for fire protection?
  9. westendgirl

    westendgirl New Member

    Messages:
    4
    But in my limited experience with this type of building, it would be unusual for the waste arm of the tub to be buried in concrete. It is probably open in some way once the tub is removed. If this were not true, then access from below would not be possible either.

    From what the plumbers said, it sounds like the waste arm is buried in concrete. They would access it from below by drilling out the concrete, we think.

    If your tub is not rusted through, then refinishing would gain you 1 to 3 years. Proabably not more.

    1 to 3 years before it rusts through? Or just looks bad again?

    For clarification; is your building actually structural concrete floors, or is it like my building, which is conventional wood frame construction, but poured lightweight concrete on the second floor for fire protection?

    It is actually structural concrete building -- a high rise with concrete floors and outer walls. In fact, the wall the tub sits against is solid concrete, too, because of the stairwell. And the shared plumbing in the wall backs against the next unit's tub. I think this is why they can't approach it as a mere concrete pad.
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Never worked on a hi-rise, so I am just thinking out loud, here. If there is access from below, then it would be logical that you could also rearrange the arm by removing the tub. If the arm is poured in cement, how did they hook up the tub the first time?

    If your plumber is experienced in hi-rise construction, you must defer to his expertise. If he is just guessing {like me!} find a plumber who can set us both straight.
  11. sulconst2

    sulconst2 New Member

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    old bridge nj
    did a bathroom remodel in a condo. all concrete ext. walls and floors.there was a 12" framed cavity thru the whole ceiling for mechanicals plus 2x6 joists on the floor for the same. when i moved fixtures i reframed the joists to accomidate the plumbing. actually easy with all the access above and below. go into a closet and see if you can drill thru the floor. this will let you know if there is a floor cavity. otherwise its like plumguy said. they will have to show some skill.
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