Removing an Old Bath Tub

While removing an old bathtub and replacing it with a new one is not necessarily an easy job, it is not impossible and definitely within a home handyman’s skills.

If your present bathtub is sandwiched between two walls, with the faucets and shower head located on one of these walls, you will be able to disconnect the piping and pull the tub straight out or you might have to remove a wall section, cut the piping and then remove the tub through the wall.

On the other hand, if it is freestanding, with open access to pipes and fittings, you just need to disconnect the piping and lift the tub out, after removing the toilet and flush tank, or lavatory to make room.

Before you Start

Prior to tackling the job, you need to ensure that you have plenty of room to work and will need a clear space at least three feet deep, should you need to pull the tub out from the wall. Remove the access panel of the wall surface which you should find on the backside of the plumbing wall of the bathtub.

Alternatively, this section of the wall might be finished with drywall, plaster or paneling. Once the access panel is removed, the piping will be exposed, enabling you to continue. Since you will need to work around the tub once it is away from the wall, it is advisable to remove other plumbing fixtures such as the sink and toilet.

Another important issue would be to measure the width of all door openings and the hallway along the path for removing the tub. There is nothing more frustrating when you have got your old tub out and then realize that the new one will not fit through the doorways. If hot and cold water faucet fixtures are inside the bathtub, remove them back to supply connections.

It will be disastrous if you tried to remove your old tub without turning off the water. The spout should just twist off and can be done by hand, but if that’s not possible, use a wrench. You can then move the handles, most of which are held on with a set screw which can also be removed with a wrench after which you are ready to remove the tub.

Removing the tub

You would have to cut away at least six inches of drywall above the tub on all sides and remove the screws holding the tub extension to the studs. In order to protect your eyes from flying debris wear safety glasses while using the hammer and cold chisel.

You might have to use a flat bar or pry bar in order to remove a galvanized strip along the tub extension and then lift up on the front edge of the tub with a pry bar and slide a pair of 1x4s beneath the tub. You can then pull the tub away from the wall by using the 1x4s as a skid, but will definitely need help while carrying the tub.

If you find you cannot move the tub out, it could mean that it is not completely disconnected from the water supply and/or drainage system, so you would have to check again, figure out the problem and try again.

If you do not plan to save the tub or reuse it at a later stage, then it would be best to cover it with a tarp and break it into pieces with a sledge hammer. Fiberglass and polymer tubs can be cut into pieces with a saw.