Problem with new tub installation

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by CharlieM, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. CharlieM

    CharlieM New Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Iowa
    I had a contractor install a new Sterling Advantage bathtub with 3 piece surround. The subfloor had about 3/8" slope from rear to drain end, and about 1/4" slope or slightly less from back to front.

    He said he never uses mortar underneath these tubs, but I insisted that was the most reliable way to fill the voids and level it out (according to Sterling installation instructions).

    So, he put a bucket of coarse mortar underneath and he and his helper completed the install. The tub is level, but when I step in it, it has some flex and crunchy sounds. He also failed to install any apron brace at the midpoint so the apron flexes inward readily. I now need to deal with calling them back to redo things. They tend to be blaming me for insisting on a mortar bed so the "crunchy" and flex issue is my fault.

    I'm not out to start a war with them, but rather get a good installation.

    What is the technique for ensuring a good mortar bed installation ?

    Thanks for all your help.
    Charlie
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    That is going to be difficult with someone who has no expereince in doing something right, but maybe you can coax it out anyway.

    I did one of my tubs by pushing the mix in under the tub after it had been set, but I had open and easy access on the business end of the tub. One of the more intriguing methods I have seen was done with columns and rows of small mounds rather than one big clump in the middle of the tub. That way, each mound can have room to "squish" as the tub is pressed down into place.
  3. CharlieM

    CharlieM New Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Iowa
    Thank you for your response. The whole bathroom is 60" wide - kitchen on one side, bedroom wall on the other so there is no real access to the underside of the tub.

    Is it possible to remove the tub spout and shower valve cover, pull the tub and reset it ? It has a new delta valve assembly.

    I'm obviously concerned about the "crunchies" and related bottom flex, but very concerned about the fact that there is nothing bracing the apron from behind.

    In doing some cleaning on the tub last night, I also noticed what appeared to be a heat or scorch discoloration near the overflow drain. Hopefully, that can be touched up somehow.

    Any other answers as far as removal and resetting with mortar correctly ?

    Thanks.
    Charlie
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tub

    IF the mortar was under the tub and was not "overcompressed" by standing in the tub, there should be no way for it to flex and give "crunchy" sounds. I have never put a reinforcement behind the tub apron. If the tub needs that then it is a very flimsy design and should not have been installed in the first place. But, my experience with Sterling tubs, and it may not be with all models, is that they are a very substandard product with little integral rigidity.
  5. CharlieM

    CharlieM New Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Iowa
    Most models come with a brace that extends out from the body of the tub and snaps onto the apron to support it. For others, the installation instructions say to put 2x4 blocks behind the apron.

    I guess mileage and opinions vary with products. I've read good reviews and comments about Sterling tub systems from homeowners, plumbers, etc on this forum (which is very helpful).

    I am guessing the mortar was compressed or the tub was shifted somewhat after it was poured. The plumber was standing in the tub immediately after to mount the surround - which would certainly compress it. Now, what to do.
  6. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    The spout and such should not be a problem, but removing and re-installing the tub and surround without damaging them could be challenging.

    Yes, standing in the tub on top of that soft mortar was definitely a very bad thing for anyone to do. You are the victim of a hack job, and I would guess there is little chance of that plumber now taking the time to do things over where he was either too ignorant of what actually needed to be done or was simply unwilling to do things right in the first place.

    There is no easy fix here, but a good handyman (a true craftsman) could probably help you out with everything except the scorch mark left by the plumber.
  7. CharlieM

    CharlieM New Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Iowa
    Update on this saga.

    Plumber and bath shop lady show up at my home to address my complaints with installation (no apron support installed, mortar improperly installed). Out comes 4 big cans of expanding foam and pumped behind the apron of the tub and they called things fixed.

    Three days later the tub is bulging in nasty ways - surprise.

    I pulled the tub and surround with no damage; dug out the still-expanding foam; chipped out crummy mortar and cleaned up the mess. Except for the small burn mark, the tub survived the abuse in good shape.

    The brace for the apron that this fellow claimed was non-existant was still attached in it's shipping position underneath the tub. It folds out from the bottom of the tub and attaches to the apron.

    I've swallowed my losses with this outfit. Myself and a good plumber I know will be re-installing the tub. Hopefully, the results will be much better and the world will be turning in the right direction again.

    Question for you folks...

    With vikrell tubs, should the drain assembly be sealed with putty or silicone?

    Tub directions don't say one way or another.

    Thanks.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I use Hercules Sta-Put Ultra Plumbers Putty it is non-staining and safe for all surfaces. I do not sdvocate gluing in any plumbing fixture with Silicone RTV.
  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I would have stopped them right then and there, but it sounds like you have things well under control now. In my own opinion, you should let at least "the bath shop lady" know you had to pull everything out and begin all over.
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