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-   -   Acrylic tub installed w-out frame. Serious? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f7/acrylic-tub-installed-w-out-frame-serious-152287/)

Morris C. 08-01-2012 11:53 PM

Acrylic tub installed w-out frame. Serious?
 
I just learned that my contractor installed my new alcove-type (3-sided) acrylic bathtub without the lumber stud frame (aka "apron") that the manufacturer's instructions described as being part of the installation. The installation instructions also talk about using wood blocks in the corners or mortar for a support base. (The tub also has a plywood support base built into it, at about lower middle height). The contractor says he used 5 wood blocks (4 corners and 1 in the middle of the tub) for the support system. He also says the support frame was built, but it wasn't.

I haven't used the tub yet, but I can hear creaking noises when i stand and move in it anywhere in the half of the tub that is closer to the drain. Contractor says that's normal that it should flex, cos it's an acrylic tub. Says he would normally fit dry bags of mortar under the tub, but won,t here, because in this case it would interfere with the support from the wood blocks in the corners. So he offered to spray foam underneath the tub, from halfway up to the drain. I said I was skeptical that the foam would stand up to moving weight, because I read that you can step on it and it will crumble. His answer was that applying it under a tub is what it is made for (or at least often used for).

Q. Building a wood frame around the 3 sides means removing the tub, which means a major re-do of almost all the reno work done. So is it really necessary to an acrylic tub install (since it does appear to have wood blocks in the 4 corners), or can foam or some other means be used to provide adequate long-term support, to prevent flexing and cracking and leaking....

joecaption 08-02-2012 10:29 AM

The instrutions needed to be followed to the letter.
No it's not normal for it to flex, over time it will crack and fail.
And no spray foam is not going to be a fix.
Post a picture of what it looks lke now.

Morris C. 08-02-2012 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 979753)
The instrutions needed to be followed to the letter.
No it's not normal for it to flex, over time it will crack and fail.
And no spray foam is not going to be a fix.
Post a picture of what it looks lke now.

The contractor said it was ok, despite any creaking noises when I move in the tub, because the silicone seal around the tub was not moving or breaking. So he doesn't feel the tub is flexing.

This is a picture of the acrylic alcove-type tub (exterior). It's a standard 60" tub with one side showing and the other 3 sides open. I don't know if you want to see what the installation looks like, but I can't really do that since it is currently installed. I can only describe what I am able to see thru the access holes (at the drain end and the long side). I can spot one wood support block in the left corner (drain end), one block in the center of the tub. Not sure about right corner drain end. The second access hole showed me there was no apron (wood support frame) on the long side (the side that is up against the wall). I spotted a small metal tab attached to the tub, and the free end of this was screwed into the wall stud.

I'm not sure what the purpose of the wood frame is, if it is not to support the tub, since that's what the corner blocks are meant to do. I presume it's to avoid moisture on the wall studs.

I suppose applying mortar at this point as a fix, is out of the question? Obviously we won't have full access to the plywood subfloor underneath the tub, without removing the tub. I'm afraid removing the tub would damage the backer board the ceramic tiles were installed on; as well as the tiles I installed on the walls in the room beyond the tub.

Javiles 08-02-2012 03:01 PM

Was there a Plumbing inspection ? (permit)? :whistling2:

Morris C. 08-02-2012 07:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Javiles (Post 979909)
Was there a Plumbing inspection ? (permit)? :whistling2:

You got me there. Inspection by whom? I'm not sure if that's required or not where I am (Quebec). There was a general inspection of the bathroom renovation work done by my building supervisor (not a professional), and we specified that the plumber hired must be a certified professional master plumber, and that the contractor be a licensed contractor.

The plumber was a jackass, however. He did a real rush job, and with nobody there to help, I had to install the bathtub with him (no, it never occurred to me at the time that there should be a frame built just for the tub, or to look to see if there was!).

Here's what I would really like to know:

what sort of damage are we looking at now?
Assuming the creaking in the tub is because a wood frame support system was not built, what has to be destroyed in order to wrench the tub out of its installation, and what can be saved? Do all three hardi-backer board walls and their tiles have to come down, or can they just pop off the bottom row of tiles to remove the tub, and keep the backer board intact?

Any way to get the tub out of the room without damaging the ceramic tile installation that I created on the walls beyond the tub?

joecaption 08-02-2012 07:41 PM

Post the web site of the company that made the tub and the model number so we can look up the install directions.
I've never heard of just installing blocks here and there, or just in the corners.
Most use a one piece 2 X 4 across the back and one on two ends.
I'm no pro plumber but the faucet looks like it's mounted way to high.

jaydevries 08-02-2012 09:17 PM

it sound to me that you have a fiberglass tub with reinforced plywood bottom with wood block feet if it says it is acrylic look and see if it is just a gel coat which in theory means acrylic wax not abs acrylic cap which is usually reinforced with rigid closed cell foam. and no great stuff (open cell foam)will not be a long term fix but some closed cell foams will work(find a fiberglass reglazer in you area they should be able to help with this). and a lot of the reinforced floor fiberglass tubs suggest the mortar but do not require mortar unless needed to be used to get wood blocks support due to floor being un level. but like joe asked post where install instructions can be read to confirm

Morris C. 08-02-2012 09:19 PM

Here is the installation guide for the bathtub. It is the "Newtown 6030 IFS" model by MAAX, "alcove" model. They mention either wood blocks in the corners or mortar, and the apron (frame).

Quote:

I'm no pro plumber but the faucet looks like it's mounted way to high.
That's actually the manufacturer's marketing ad image. My installation has the faucets closer to the tub.

jaydevries 08-02-2012 09:42 PM

ok as i said mortar only suggested for leveling purpose under feet. under the alcove install instructions it sas 2x under nail flange not to be used to support tub which to me means it is only there to help lower tub in place not there as a strengthening purpose. and i have installed a few of these of different brands and i have hade some that creak which like you makes me feel real unsure and that is why i check them before install and if they are a creaker i will try to talk owner out of using them or at least mix up 2 60# bags of mortar and put big slums under tub before setting to try to prevent creaking. at this point in the game i would talk to the contractor and see if he is willing to meet with you and a manufactures repair rep or fiberglass repair man and see if they share your concern and if they do what is the correct way to prevent future issues. like putting a closed cell foam or pumping morter under already installed tub

Morris C. 08-02-2012 09:46 PM

That's a good question. I'm assuming it's an acrylic tub, but I don't know enough about these things to tell the difference. The MAAX website was no help at all, they don't say what the tub material is. I can't confirm this in the installation guide or any of their other guides. However, the Rona website for this model says "made of acrylic". I don't know whether its closed or open cell, but I was recommended to use "low compression foam" under the tub.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaydevries (Post 980225)
it sound to me that you have a fiberglass tub with reinforced plywood bottom with wood block feet if it says it is acrylic look and see if it is just a gel coat which in theory means acrylic wax not abs acrylic cap which is usually reinforced with rigid closed cell foam. and no great stuff (open cell foam)will not be a long term fix but some closed cell foams will work(find a fiberglass reglazer in you area they should be able to help with this). and a lot of the reinforced floor fiberglass tubs suggest the mortar but do not require mortar unless needed to be used to get wood blocks support due to floor being un level. but like joe asked post where install instructions can be read to confirm


jaydevries 08-02-2012 09:55 PM

and if you look under maxx's keep it like new it event says car wax can be used to keep surface like new. so in my experence i would say you have a fiberglass tub with a acrylic gel coat not a real acrylic capped tub :huh:

jaydevries 08-02-2012 09:59 PM

yes low compression (expansion) but it has to be a closed cell which means it is rigid and does not compress under pressure and to my knowledge is only available in a 2 part mixture form look up handi foam link to see the differences
http://www.fomo.com/handi-foam-two-component.aspx

Morris C. 08-02-2012 10:22 PM

I spoke with the manufacturer who said they would send someone in a couple of weeks, to come and check the installation. But since the manual does not describe the use of the wood frame support as "optional", I assume this means that foam, mortar etc. is not an acceptable substitute for them. I did meet with the contractor to discuss my concerns and show him the creaking noise it makes when moving in the tub near the drain end. He thought the installation was ok, because the tub was not splitting away from its surround. But he agreed to get a long hose and pump in compressed foam.

I asked him if the foam would support weight, he said that's what it's made for. However, I am now convinced from all the comments I've read that say compressed foam is only a short term solution - it will disintegrate from the weight. This does not seem to be an acceptable solution. The installation will probably go south just as soon as the contractor's guarantee period is over. The manufacturer's warranty, like any, does not cover bad installations.

I like the mortar idea but I don't know that it's possible after the fact. In order to pump the mortar under the tub, it has to be wet enough to flow. But if the mortar is wet enough to even move, it will eventually flow beyond the large hole in the floor where the drain is... and on to the floor below. Disaster! Mortar under the wood blocks in the corners, as recommended by the manufacturer, is definitely not possible without pulling out the tub.

I wish there was a viable solution with a major redo, but I haven't heard of it yet. If the tub has to be pulled out, the contractor will likely not only lose his profit on this job, but lose money period. So I don't know if he'll agree to that. The thing that bothers me the most about this whole fiasco is the guy basically lied to me. He said his worker told him the frame had been installed, and that he would call him to confirm that (but of course he hasn't gotten back to me yet on that). I doubt very much his workers would risk their job by lying to their boss about a frame they did not build. I think the contractor told them to go ahead without it. Perhaps because they simply didn't bother to read the manual, and it was too late after the plumber came in to do anything about it.


Quote:

Originally Posted by jaydevries (Post 980251)
ok as i said mortar only suggested for leveling purpose under feet. under the alcove install instructions it sas 2x under nail flange not to be used to support tub which to me means it is only there to help lower tub in place not there as a strengthening purpose. and i have installed a few of these of different brands and i have hade some that creak which like you makes me feel real unsure and that is why i check them before install and if they are a creaker i will try to talk owner out of using them or at least mix up 2 60# bags of mortar and put big slums under tub before setting to try to prevent creaking. at this point in the game i would talk to the contractor and see if he is willing to meet with you and a manufactures repair rep or fiberglass repair man and see if they share your concern and if they do what is the correct way to prevent future issues. like putting a closed cell foam or pumping morter under already installed tub


Morris C. 08-02-2012 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaydevries (Post 980264)
and if you look under maxx's keep it like new it event says car wax can be used to keep surface like new. so in my experence i would say you have a fiberglass tub with a acrylic gel coat not a real acrylic capped tub :huh:

The instructions also say you can buy a repair kit in case of damage to the finish. I understood that only acrylic tubs can be repaired this way, as they are solid color all (or most?) of the way through. But you know, I will confirm with the manufacturer what exactly this tub is made from, the next time I speak to them. Although the Rona website just says "acrylic tub", you may be right about "gel coat". Looking at the edge, I can see that the surface isn't the same material all the way through. Almost, but there is another type of material bonded to the back, and you can see on the back fibres. It's not smooth like the front.

jaydevries 08-02-2012 10:39 PM

i feel after reading the instructions that the under framing in the alcove is not needed but helpful when setting tub ask manufacture on this to confirm. and also check with manufacture or better yet a local fiberglass tub reglazer (repair man) about 2 part foam to support tub it is done often here on fiberglass cracked bottom repairs


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