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Old 12-08-2008, 10:49 AM   #1
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


I recently had my bathroom totally remodeled by my friend and saxophone teacher. He's been doing contractor work for 20+ years, not a licensed contractor though. Anyways, I chose a $699 American Standard Whirlpool Tub from Home Depot, 5" long. After he gutted out the bathroom, I asked him what had to be done to install the new tub. He said you lay down some "cement" and the tub sits in that. Well, I came home one day to find out that he had trouble putting the tub in place as it's 5' wide and the bathroom is 5' wide. So, on a Saturday morning I helped him get it in after he had to cut a hole in the wall so we could get the tub in. We finally got it in place and he made the connections, patched up the hole, filled the tub, and tested the jets. All seemed fine. I then mentioned "I thought the tub had to go into cement or something". We said "well it's not going to!". So, it's basically just sitting right on the plywood (or whatever) subfloor. He put all new ceramic tile in the whole bathroom and completed almost everything yesterday and I took my first shower this morning. I noticed that as I moved around, the tub creaked a bit in the floor of it. It ocurred to me that I wonder if I should worry about it cracking. I started doing some extensive Googling only to find out that almost all experts say to put down mortar first. What concerns do I have now that everything is in and the tub is just sitting on ther wood subfloor? Since he didn't use mortar should something be put in now somehow through the plumbing access panel by the faucet? Can some sort of foam or something be injected? Is it possible that the kind of tub I got doesn't need mortar? This guy does good work, he did my basement too. However, I am slightly concerned after hearing creaking in the bottom of the tub that he didn't do it right and it might get ruined.

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Old 12-08-2008, 12:09 PM   #2
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


I would check the install instructions or call the 1-800 WAH number...

Flexing could lead to cracks or puddles of water that wont drain.

Some tub refinishers can pump foam underneath for more support.

Might be worth a call to the local real plumbing supply store and see what they say and maybe they can recommend a company to correct it.

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Old 12-08-2008, 12:19 PM   #3
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


More than likely the manufacturer recommended/required a mortarbed under the tub. This should be in the instructions that came with the tub. I have heard many people recommend , as an afterthought, installing expanding foam. If you think about this product, it is used as an insulation and has air in it. Once you put pressure on it, it will not spring backup. Although it may compress to make for "less" flex, it will not totally cure the problem. Another problem with flexing tubs is that the seal around the wall will fail. In the case of expanding foam, it may now be your only choice. A little protection is better than none. Doubt you have enough room or access to push mortar under the tub now.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:47 PM   #4
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


OK, I went home at lunch time and got the manual out from all my remodeling receipts and stuff. It definitely says to use mortar. I called the 800 number and spoke to someone and gave him the model number 2425L-LHO. He said that the tub definitely has to be sitting in cement. He also said to not step in it until it is rectified. So now I am stuck with a completely finished bathroom and an improperly installed tub. There is an access panel on the right front of the tub and there is also an access panel in the bedroom closet where the faucet is. Is it possible that the mortar can be properly spread using those openings? Beneath the tub is the basement. In fact he had to go down there to cut the drain opening the floor a little more. Is there some way to cut out part of the floor in order to get the mortar in? I assume pulling the tub out would destroy the new ceramic tile, glass shower door unit, and the recently patched wall. The guy at American Standard also said that the foam MAY be a fix but it compresses so it may only be temporary. I am really at a loss as to what to do now. Have the guy come back out and put the mortar in through the access panel? Or have a real plumber come out and give me options?
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:51 PM   #5
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


A lot depends on the configuration of the tub bottom. If it has "legs" you may be able to push in mortar mix. You want to get a piece of plastic in first or the moisture could weaken the flooring. If it has two solid supports running all the way across, it will be hard to get between them with the mortar. I would suggest calling back the saxaphone teacher and have him figure out how to fix it. In case foam is used, make sure it is the low expansion stuff or it may bow the tub bottom if you use high expansion. A mortarbed is the best fix. I use a 5 gallon bucket of premixed mortar under tubs.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:06 PM   #6
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


Well, I just got off the phone with my sax teacher. His first reaction was "nah, you don't need mortar. I have the same tub and it hasn't cracked and I didn't use mortar". I told him that I talked to American Standard and they said it DEFINITELY has to be on mortar. He said no and that he was in and out of there so many times doing the tiling, etc. I explained that I'm worried about time going by and the tub cracking. I mentioned the access panel in the bedroom closet and he said he could pack some mortar in that way and maybe spread it out with a board. I sure hope he does it right. He reassured me that he'd take care of it and not to worry. I have a plumber coming tomorrow morning to give me his opinion on how to fix it also before my teacher comes back.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:30 PM   #7
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


You have a $700 tub you cannot use. You also have someone who is going to try to fix it the easiest way, for him. If it isn't fixed properly, the warranty is void. Your previous idea about going through the floor may not work since any more cuts may cause a weakening in the flooring. I am sure he had no problem accepting payment for his work, and he originally told you about the "concrete", so it is apparent he got frustrated over getting the tub in the space and forgot the mortar. I am sure he will also have an excuse when your tub cracks. None of this helps you.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:38 PM   #8
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


Yeah you're exactly right and he admitted that when we finally got it in place that it would have been nearly impossible to lift it out again for the mortar. I think he just forgot to put it down in all the mayhem of trying figure out how to get it in place. He told me has the same tub in his own bathroom and he didn't use mortar. I told him that meant nothing and I was still worried about mine. He kind of made me feel more at ease by saying he'll go through the closet wall and pack the mortar in and spread it down with a board. His parting words on the phone were "Don't worry Pat, I'll take care of it".

Does this sound to you like the right way to go about it? If not, what would be the proper way to fix it? He's coming Wednesday morning so I'd like to have something to tell him and you sound like you know what you are talking about.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:11 PM   #9
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


It can be done. It will be a slow process since room to work will be at a premium. As long as he fills in the gap between the floor and the bottom of the tub, all will be well. Once it hardens, there should be no movement at all when stepping into the tub. I am glad he admitted his mistake and is willing to fix it. I am sure that part of the reason is the fact that he is not a licensed contractor and doesn't want bad comments or even a lawsuit. Having a "brainfart" happens to the best of us, but needs to be correctly remedied. Good luck and I hope he does it right.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:20 PM   #10
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


Thanks for all your input. He's a friend and teacher so I doubt he is worried about a lawsuit. Any monetary damages I take getting this done right would probably just be chalked up to learning not to have friends do work for you.

He did ask me where I noticed creaking the most and I said closer to the drain. My only fear is that he'll pack it in only down there. I'm hoping there is some kind of tool which can spread it under the whole surface under the tub. I assume though that a portion of the tub is resting right on the floor. I'm not sure how getting plastic down first is an option. You're not saying the moisture of the wet mortar could weaken the floor, are you? I'll have to see what the plumber says tomorrow morning too.
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Old 12-08-2008, 06:05 PM   #11
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


If there are legs (individual ones) instead of two support bars across the width of the tub, the plastic can be easily rolled up and then unrolled under the tub. This is a moisture barrier and dry wood will tend to suck the moisture out of the mortar mixture. Also, with legs, he should be able to take a board and push the mortar in across the bottom of the tub.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:46 PM   #12
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


In a similar past post someone related that they had used mortar in one gallon zip lock bags to rectify their void filling problem. This might help your friend to get the mortar into the access panels and then squeeze it under the tub. The expansion foam may be a good fix for the area around the drain, especially since I am sure he had to 'overcut' the drain hole. The expansion foam will get very hard when fully cured and should help there.
Good luck,
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:05 PM   #13
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


Well, my friend came back and went through the wall where the faucet is packed in mortar as far as he could. He then came back today and opened a hole in the wall on the opposite side and packed it in real good from there. From what I could tell when I went home at lunch, he got most if not all of the underneath packed with mortar. I'm feeling better now that the tub will be secure. How long should I wait before standing in the tub? He finished up work at noon today. Should I take a shower tomorrow morning or give it an extra day to dry?
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:12 PM   #14
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


OK I just took my first shower this morning after my friend came back and opened holes on both walls on the ends of the tub and pushed in mortar. The creaking seems to be minimized but I do still notice it a little. If I stand sideways in the tub and rock my weight left and right I can make it creak. I am wondering if this is just the nature of this kind of tub and I will always notice something like that. From looking in the opening in the wall, the tub is all 1 piece connected to what looks like thick plywood on the bottom. This plywood was what was not touching anything before but now has mortar stuffed underneath it. I am guessing the the slight creaking is the tub moving slighty on the wood base? Is that correct and does it sound normal? I am thinking we may have it as good as it gets and there is no worry of damaging the tub.
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Old 12-19-2009, 02:24 AM   #15
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Whirlpool - no mortar?


Is the creaking actually coming from underneath or could it be the tub rim on the stringer? How is it secured to the studs? Could be some flexing there and that could be causing the noise.

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