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Old 09-04-2016, 04:59 PM   #1
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New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


Hi all,

I'm going to be replacing an alcove bathtub, and while I've done a fair amount of research and am comfortable with most aspects of the job, the part that I am not entirely clear on is the best way to deal with connecting the drain to the existing plumbing, assuming that everything doesn't miraculously line up out-of-the-box.

While there is no access from below or behind the tub, it just so happens that I took a photo (below) while I was doing some ceiling repairs some years back, so at least I have a preview of what I'm dealing with.

What would be the best way to handle this? The only thing that occurred to me was to open up more of the subfloor and replace the whole section of plumbing starting at the far left of the photo... Would that be the best route to take? If so, I'm going to have some follow-up questions about how to close the flooring back up (since there's a wall to a shower directly above the joist in the photo), but we'll take things one step at a time...

Here's the pic and thanks for your help!

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Old 09-04-2016, 07:09 PM   #2
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


Since you have no access, you have to options- go ahead and make an access and loosen the trap nut. Or, working from above, remove the strainer from the tub shoe and remove the overflow cover plate.
Both methods will allow you to remove the tub without removing the trap.
Once you get the new tub, you can test fit it to the old trap and see what adjustments to make.
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Old 09-04-2016, 07:25 PM   #3
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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Originally Posted by TheEplumber View Post
Since you have no access, you have to options- go ahead and make an access and loosen the trap nut. Or, working from above, remove the strainer from the tub shoe and remove the overflow cover plate.
Both methods will allow you to remove the tub without removing the trap.
Once you get the new tub, you can test fit it to the old trap and see what adjustments to make.
Thanks for your reply... Yeah, I'm definitely going to disconnect the plumbing from the tub--creating access from underneath would be a highly undesirable option! What I'm curious about, though, is how a professional would handle this if the plumbing does NOT line up... Are there any viable options other than removing more of the floor and replacing the whole section that's in the picture? (If I'm getting ahead of myself, let me know... I just trying to plan ahead )
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:07 PM   #4
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


.... assuming aesthetics/etc allow, and considering your impared/non-access to the DWV,(and maybe supply), you may want to specifically purchase your new tub dependent on it's drainage specs... ie...plan ahead.
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:33 PM   #5
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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.... assuming aesthetics/etc allow, and considering your impared/non-access to the DWV,(and maybe supply), you may want to specifically purchase your new tub dependent on it's drainage specs... ie...plan ahead.
Makes sense, but the thing is, there's a specific make/model tub that my wife wants to get. In doing some rough measurements, it looks like the new tub will be close, but may be about an inch or so away from the existing drain. Was my thought to replace the existing trap and section of pipe not a good idea?
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:43 PM   #6
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


There is a method to hook up the tub without access holes, but it takes some precise measuring and test fitting the tub.
If you are working with only an inch difference, I think it's doable. An access from the end wall might help
A couple years ago we (2 men) would set 2nd floor neo angle tubs in mortar base about once a week. We got it down to about 3 hrs. This included the wide spread deck faucet too- no ceiling or wall access
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:05 PM   #7
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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There is a method to hook up the tub without access holes, but it takes some precise measuring and test fitting the tub.
Yes, I saw some videos of this being done... I think I can pull it off (but I'm prepared to call in the pros if need be!) Unfortunately there will be no access from the end wall--there's a tiled shower on the other side of that wall.

To the question of replacing the existing trap and adjacent pipe in the event that there's not enough play to attach it to the tub drain, is that how you would go about doing it? (I saw some flexible pipe online, but it looked kind of flimsy to me, especially considering the lack of access to make repairs...)
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


There are some tricks you learn by thinking outside the box...
The waste and overflow should be solvent weld PVC joints, not the brass you have now.
By doing this you can offset the overflow to the side with a 22* or 45* elbow , then drop down to the drain shoe tee. You also swing the tee to line up under the overflow offset. Your horizontal drain shoe pipe will not be parallel to the tub now- but that doesn't matter. What matters is you have effectively moved the drain further away from the trap so you have more room to rebuild the trap to align with the tub.

Something else to consider is using a ram bit to clean out the hub at the wye and rebuilding from there.

I've seen the flex pipe you refer to, but it is used for piping jetted tubs and pumps. It is not approved for drainage piping.
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Old 09-05-2016, 07:51 AM   #9
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


Great tips, Eplumber... Thanks! I hadn't thought of either of those possibilities, and that would be great if I could simply offset the overflow as you described.

If for some reason I had to take the second option of cleaning out the hub at the wye, is that something that could be done without removing more of the subfloor, based on the pic I posted? It would be great of that were possible, but I'm guessing that might be tricky...

Let me ask another question, since we're chatting... I'm changing from a jetted tub to a regular soaking tub. What would you do with electric line? It's on its own circuit so I was thinking I would disconnect it at the electrical panel, label it as disconnected up in the bathroom, and then tuck it out of the way somewhere... Is that a reasonable plan?
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Old 09-06-2016, 06:24 AM   #10
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


Why not gain access from the room below? Cutting amd replacing drywall is fairly easy.

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Old 09-06-2016, 09:08 AM   #11
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


Second on accessing below. Even if there's light fixture or cabinets there, they are a lot easier to move away and sure thing than your plan. Pipes spin or corroded and trying to precision replumb from above is asking for trouble - even for the pros.
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Old 09-06-2016, 08:09 PM   #12
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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Why not gain access from the room below? Cutting amd replacing drywall is fairly easy.
Normally, I would agree 100%, but the reason I'm trying to avoid opening the ceiling from below is that the entire first floor of my house has a continuous ceiling, so accessing from below would require a very time-consuming paint job. I'm prepared to do this if I run into problems, but I'm really hoping to avoid it...
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Old 09-07-2016, 04:58 AM   #13
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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Normally, I would agree 100%, but the reason I'm trying to avoid opening the ceiling from below is that the entire first floor of my house has a continuous ceiling, so accessing from below would require a very time-consuming paint job. I'm prepared to do this if I run into problems, but I'm really hoping to avoid it...
As mentioned earlier, it can be done.

But, you must be willing to place and remove and replace the tub a bunch of times to get everything perfect.

And then the fun starts after gluing up and find the pipes slipped further into the fittings than you expected....

I've used mock up pieces of pipe where I cut two slits in the sides so they could bottom out completely into the fittings, just as when they are glued up. Pipe is cheap and this can help to get the sizes of the pipes you need zeroed in.
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Old 09-07-2016, 01:52 PM   #14
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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As mentioned earlier, it can be done.

But, you must be willing to place and remove and replace the tub a bunch of times to get everything perfect.

And then the fun starts after gluing up and find the pipes slipped further into the fittings than you expected....

I've used mock up pieces of pipe where I cut two slits in the sides so they could bottom out completely into the fittings, just as when they are glued up. Pipe is cheap and this can help to get the sizes of the pipes you need zeroed in.
Pugsy.... Great idea on the slits (I've sanded down the joints before in a precise fit issue) but the slits seem alot easier.
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Old 09-07-2016, 03:54 PM   #15
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Re: New Tub - Connecting Drain to Existing Plumbing


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Pugsy.... Great idea on the slits (I've sanded down the joints before in a precise fit issue) but the slits seem alot easier.
Especially on central vac tube. That stuff is super tight.
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