Please Help! How to Install a Drop-in Tub!

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by BrandyJuly, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. BrandyJuly

    BrandyJuly New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Idaho
    We're remodeling and I recently hired a plumber to install our drop-in soaker tub. The tub is new but had a small crack so we got it for a great price. The first time he installed the tub he first tried to get me to think that I had to shim then glue the tub into place because the support blocks don't reach all the way to the floor. I reminded him that I'd hired him to install the tub. So he shimmed the leg posts, glued them into place, filled the tub with water, and sprayed foam into the space underneath. Is this the proper way to install a drop-in tub? I forgot to tell him about the crack and even after seeing the crack he left the water in the tub. My husband drained about half the water after 24 hours because water was seeping out of the crack. The foam expanded and pulled the tub up offthe deck breaking the caulk seal around the rim. We've asked the plumber to come back and fix this and set the tub again. We removed all the foam. But my question is, is this the right way to set a drop-in tub? :confused:
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The direct answer to your question is that expanding foam does just that...expand. Anyone using it is responsible to be aware of that issue. For under a tub, two ideas would be (a) to use minimal expanding foam and (b) have the tub filled with water for weight until the foam is cured.

    There are other, more friendly products, which can be used such as structolite.

    Now....about the tub with a crack in it big enough to leak water??? We you planning to fix that with duct tape???
  3. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    For real!

    Besides who cares if a broke tub isn't installed properly... :)
  4. Agu

    Agu New Member

    Messages:
    66
    Location:
    Tampa, FL

    That was what I was thinking :confused:
  5. hockeydad

    hockeydad New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Foam should not be used to support a tub. It will eventually compress and not offer the required support. Use mortar. If you removed the foam, that means you have access, so just pack in the mortar as tight as you can. If you remove and reinstall the tub, use several mounds of mortar before placing tub. Do some searching, there's plenty of discussion about this.
  6. Agu

    Agu New Member

    Messages:
    66
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    "My husband drained about half the water after 24 hours because water was seeping out of the crack."

    I still don't understand why proper installation of a soaking tub that's cracked and leaks is an issue. Maybe I'm just dense but it seems to me the tub in question belongs in a landfill, not in someones home.

    :confused:
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    But they got such a deal! Probably the same people that will buy an $89 toilet and wonder why it clogs and doesn't flush everything the first time. I would also guess the the "plumber" was really a handyman.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tub

    quote; I would also guess the the "plumber" was really a handyman.

    There is NO WAY I would install a tub that I knew was defective, if for no other reason than that the customer might start calling me when it began leaking, and wonder WHY I installed it. "Small crack"? Is that like being a "little bit pregnant"?
    [​IMG]
  9. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH

    Are you tell me that pregnant women are defective? :confused: Shame on you, hj! :mad:
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ?

    Methinks you take offense too quickly. I meant that it makes not difference whether it is a "small crack" or a large one, it will still leak. Just like being one week pregant or 36 weeks will still result in a child, eventually. AND if you do not want the tub to leak, OR the child, something should be done ahead of time.
  11. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    Just a thought

    Would expanding foam in an exhaust pipe. increase gas mileage !:D
  12. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Sorry ... just playing ... wrong smiley. :)
  13. DesignRemodeling

    DesignRemodeling Design/Remodeling Pro

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Columbus OH, 43215
    NOT the correct installation method

    This is NOT the right way to install a drop-in tub. The fact that the tub didn't rest on the floor is not ideal, but can be accomodated rather easily. The correct way to install any drop-in tub is to seat the bottom of the tub in a bed of mortar. This is really the only correct way to install a drop-in. Expanding foam is less than desirable for several reasons:

    • First, the foam breaks down over time (and by over time I mean almost immediately)
    • Second, the cured foam is exactly the consistency of a sponge. Any condensation or outside moisture that invades the space under the tub will be soaked up and turn into black mold very quickly
    • Third, the foam is soft and does not properly support the weight of water, much less the weight of one or two people
    • Finally, the foam expands dramatically while curing, causing the same issue you had with it lifting the tub away from the tub deck

    As for the crack in the tub, it may not have been the best investment for you given the fact that it has compromised the tub's ability to hold water. However, this too can be remedied. Simply flip the tub over and reinforce the damaged area from the back with fiberglass mesh and resin, which you can find at nearly any hardware store (this should be applied liberally at least 8 inches out in all directions from the crack). After the fiberglass cures and the crack has been stabilized from the bottom, the inside can be repaired as well with a "tub refinishing kit", also available at nearly any hardware store.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Would expanding foam in an exhaust pipe. increase gas mileage !:D

    The heat would melt it. Stick a potato in the exhaust pipe. That will reduce its size to zero, and your tank of gas would last a long time, because the engine would not run properly, if at all.
  15. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Since when does foam break down, and since when is it "soft"... I imagine you probably sell mortar for a living, but I'm also wondering what type of foam you use that is "like a sponge"...?
  16. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote;
    • 1. First, the foam breaks down over time (and by over time I mean almost immediately)
    • 2. Second, the cured foam is exactly the consistency of a sponge. Any condensation or outside moisture that invades the space under the tub will be soaked up and turn into black mold very quickly
    • 3. Third, the foam is soft and does not properly support the weight of water, much less the weight of one or two people
    • 4. Finally, the foam expands dramatically while curing, causing the same issue you had with it lifting the tub away from the tub deck
    1. If that is true, then there are a LOT of people who are going to have to replace the foam insulation around their windows and doors, and also around outer wall electrical boxes.
    2. IF the foam were the consistency of a sponge, which it is not, it would still be a "closed cell" material which does NOT absorb moisture.
    3. If it is soft, also not a fact, then it would not support the tub or the people in it, but then,
    4. Neither would it be strong enough to "raise" the tub, regardless of how much it expanded.
    5. You should use low expansion foam anyway, since it is the densest.
  17. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    If it means anything my whirlpool tub is supported exactly the same way (wedges and expanding foam). I suspect that its probably not the best way to do it, however the tub is still level after 5 years. I don't remember if he filled it with water or not while waiting for it to cure although I can see why one might want do that.

    -rick
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