Rust between the bathtub and the drain flange

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by matts19, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. matts19

    matts19 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Hi there,

    I hope I worded it right.. as I am very green on plumbing. Basically, I see a rust between the bathtub and the perimeter of the round mental that sits at the tub drain (what I think it's called the cover flange after doing some research). The tub is more than 25 years old and I am afraid that some day the water will leak and stain someone else's ceiling underneath (I live in a condo).

    What can I do? Should I replace the flange (and maybe the whole tub in the worse case?). Or is there a simple solution like applying a sealant (and if so, what would be the best one to use?). I doubt that a sealant would be a permanent solution because regular cleaning of the bathtub will probably scale the sealant in time...

    Thank you so much for your advise!
  2. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Could be wear from the water and a tub that was scrubbed a lot at the tub drain. Don't think anything is going to leak from what you said..

    You would have heard from the guy below. If you are so worried, then I would tell the landlord. He probably would want to know.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,023
    Location:
    New England
    It's a condo...they are both owners...

    You said green? Not reddish brown? Green would be more likely from copper or brass I think. You may have over the years, worn off the plating.

    If the porcelain on the tub is worn through or chipped at the drain, then eventually, it might rust out. Does it feel solid? Does the color of the tub show any breaks or chips there?

    Might not be a problem other than cosmetic.
  4. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Get some porcelain touch-up paint from the hardware store. This will buy you some more time. Eventually it will corrode all the way through, and you can replace the tub at that time.
  5. matts19

    matts19 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Thanks for all your advise. The question now is, should I buy a porcelain paint or should I buy a sealant in order to delay the inevitable? I'd like to hang on to this tub for a few more years since I don't have any money to spend. What's the best way to make it last as long as I can? The rust is definitely there and it's the normal brown color around the rim.

    Thanks!
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Tough to give advice without seeing it, but I'd disassemble the drain, clean up the tub down to bare metal, prime it, and paint it with an epoxy or porcelain paint. If you just paint over rust, it'll keep rusting in the area you didn't reach with the paint and below the paint. When you reassemble the drain, put a good glob of plumber's putty or (better) clear silicone sealant between the drain and the tub before you tighten down the drain.

    The "disassemble the drain" part could be much easier than it sounds, but it depends on the drain. Can you post a good close-up pic of the drain?
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  7. matts19

    matts19 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Here's the pic you requested sir. Water always gathers around the rim after taking a shower. I think some sort of white caulk used to be where the rust is now. Do you think it is easy to take it out & fix as you described? Thanks!

    [​IMG]
  8. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Now that I see it, I recommend cleaning the rust as best you can using a green scrub pad, then touch up with porcelain paint to match the color, then, after the paint dries, put a bead of clear silicone over that to build up the area around the drain and keep water from pooling there. I don't recommend taking the drain apart. I think, if you do that, it will hasten its demise.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2006
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,023
    Location:
    New England
    Well, if you figure everyone has an opinion, you'll get many. Rust requires oxygen to be created. Iron oxide (rust) is bigger than iron, so, as things rust, it exposes more raw iron underneath. The only way to stop it is to clean it all off and then protect it. I'd take the drain out, clean off all of the rust, maybe then use a rust conversion primer, and then put some porcelain repair paint on it. Let it dry well, then re-install the drain...plumber's putty or silicon (plumber's putty if you every want to remove it again) would work.

    Off topic, but did you know that aluminum rusts almost immediately? But, instead of exposing raw aluminum underneath, it it seals the surface, otherwise, it would rust away to a powder quickly. That's one reason why to weld aluminum, you need to do it in a cover of inert gas (TIG), or the high heat in an oxygen environment would contaminate the weld with rusted aluminum.
  10. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    The reason I say to leave the drain alone, is because it may require a lot of pounding to remove it, which could cause the rusted areas to break apart. Then you'll have to replace the tub immediately.
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Obviously I agree with Jim's analysis and recommedations. There's a special wrench-like thing made for taking these drains out. Four prongs fit down into the four quadrants of the drain, and it unscrews from the pipe beneath. If I think about it, I may be able to post a pic of one tonight, or might be able to find one online.

    Here's one:

    http://www.idealtruevalue.com/servlet/the-73399/Detail

    The only way to know if it will come out is to give it a try. FWIW, I had a 1973-era tub and it unscrewed with little effort; your mileage may vary. I've heard of people doing thing like carefully pouring boiling water into the drain to heat up the pipe below, and then putting a piece of dry ice in the drain to shrink it away from the tub and pipe a little. Time for a little creativity.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2006
  12. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    The "smart dumbell" tool only removes the drain if it is not frozen. If it is frozen, you have to whack it with a cold chisel, or get creative like Mikey talked about.

    I say, "let sleeping dogs lie".

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2008
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