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Replacing a Manufactured Home Bathtub
Sun 09/03/06 09:22:25 am
by Mark Bower

cracked bathtub

As a general rule, replacing a bathtub is NOT considered a do-it-yourself project -- especially if your changing the type and size of the tub. Changing anything means refiguring the drainlines, vents and waterlines and that can get a bit tricky and frustrating. But if your old tub is cracked or damaged and you simply wish to replace it with the same kind, then the project becomes more manageable.

Repair or Replace?

Most bathtubs in mobile homes are plastic. When plastic cracks or breaks, it cannot be permanently repaired like fiberglass can. If the crack isn't too bad, the best you can do is temporarily repair it by using one of two methods.

bathtub crack

First method is to purchase an epoxy repair kit. The biggest advantage of the epoxy kit is that the repair isn't as noticeable because the color somewhat matches the tub. The disadvantage is that it works best only on small cracks because any movement on big cracks can cause the crack to reappear.

Second method to repair a cracked plastic bathtub is to apply a piece of quick fix tub repair tape to seal the crack. The advantage of the tape is that it will move with the tub so the crack will not reappear (unless the crack runs). The disadvantage is that it looks somewhat gaudy but by gosh it does work!

Bathtub Facts

If you've decided to replace your bathtub, besides the size and color you will also want to understand how and why the bottom of your tub is supported. Most plastic tubs are supported in two ways -- plastic legs or styrofoam.

tub legs

Pictured to the right is a tub supported by plastic legs. If you have a sewer pipe running directly under the tub, then you will need this type of tub to make room for the pipes. The disadvantage of using a tub with legs is that the tub can creak if the subfloor under the tub isn't flat causing the legs to sit uneven. The legs have to installed into the bottom of the tub. When doing so, push them in straight or you'll risk breaking a tab that holds the legs in.

styrofoam tub supports

This photo on the right shows a tub that uses styrofoam for support rather than plastic legs. The styrofoam sits directly onto the floor. Overall, the styrofoam offers better support with way less creaks. Obviously the disadvantage is that you can't run pipes directly under the tub.

Removal of Old Tub and Surround

unhook drain

First shut off water to the bathtub. From underneath the tub, unscrew pipes from drain. This can be accomplished by either taking apart the p-trap (pictured right) or unscrewing the pipe directly from the tub drain itself. If your tub has an overflow, there will be another pipe going up the back of the tub to the overflow. In this case simply take apart the p-trap and the rest will come out with the tub.

remove tub faucet

Again, be sure the water is shut off to the tub. Next unscrew the waterline connections from the back of the faucet. Remove the nuts from the hot and cold nipples and slide the faucet out. Older faucets can be much more complicated to remove as the faucets themselves may have to be disassembled along with the spout and shower head.

remove tub surround

Once the faucet is removed, next step is to get rid of the old tub surround. If the old tub surround is held in place with plastic rivets (below), cut off the head with a knife or drill them out. Then with an utility knife, cut around the edge of the tub surround to loosen the caulk. Finally, grab a corner of the surround and carefully pull it off the wall.

plastic rivet

remove screws from lip of tub

With the tub surround removed, the lip of the tub will be exposed. Remove all the screws from this lip.

remove old bathtub

The old bathtub should now be loose and able to be lifted out and removed from the bathroom.

Prep for the New Bathtub

prep tub opening

Prepare the opening for the tub. First be sure that the rim support boards are set at the proper height for the new tub. Use boards longer than what's shown in the illustration to the right. Set level and secure into the studs of the wall.

Most likely your old tub had a skirt track fastened to the floor. This helps stiffen-up the skirt on the tub. If the old skirt track is in good shape, leave it. Otherwise replace it with the one that probably came with the new tub.

tub drain

Nothing is more frustrating than having a water leak after the new tub is installed. The best way to head-off a leak is to install a new drain, faucet and waterline ends. Get rid of the old parts -- once removed they may never seal right again so start with new. More info on obtaining and installing the correct drain assembly can be found here.

install tub drain

Before setting the new bathtub in place, secure drain to tub. Again, more instructions can be found here.

set new bathtub

With drain installed, set new tub into place. Be sure that the skirt slips into the skirt track.

secure tub lip

Secure tub to wall by driving screw through lip into wall stud after predrilling hole. Carefully use a countersink bit to round-out hole (below) so head of screw sets about flush with the lip. Snug but DO NOT overtighten as overtightening may crack the lip of the tub.


Install New Surround

glue tub surround

One rule of thumb when chosing a tub surround is to buy one with the least amount of seams. The more seams you have, the more chance it will leak even if sealed with caulk that will turn gaudy in a year or so. One-piece tub surrounds like the one illustrated here are preferred over the several-piece kits. Whatever you buy, pre-fit it now. Some kits requiring cutting and that should also be done now.

bathtub surround

Tub-surround glue available in tubes is illustrated here. Other methods of gluing include spray glue and glue troweled on from a can. Here we outlined the surround on the wall and applied beads of glue inside the outline. Next the tub surround is set into place and pushed into the beads of glue. Then the glue is 'aired' by pulling back the tub surround, waiting for 2 minutes and then reapplying. Every few minutes, give the surround a full rub-down to ensure it stays adhered to the wall.

Along with the glue, you may also wish to install plastic rivets to help secure the tub surround to the wall. First picture shows what a plastic rivet looks like. Next predrill the hole. The hole does not need to be drilled into a stud. Then put a dab of caulk in the predrilled hole and insert the rivet all the way into the hole. Finally, tap the pin flush into the head of the rivet. That's it!

drill tub faucet holes

With the tub secured in place and the walls up, next is the faucet. If you wish to change or upgrade your faucet, now is the time before you make new holes in your tub surround. If your faucet comes with a template, use it to mark where to drill your holes. With the faucet in this example, a 1" spade bit was used to make the holes. Two big tips -- plug your drain to keep debri from falling into it. And, measure twice, drill once!

bathtub faucet

Apply plumbers putty to the back of the faucet and insert it into the holes. Secure from the back with the enclosed nuts.

Replace faucet ends, add shut-offs and screw waterlines to faucet. If you haven't already, be sure the drain is connected.

new tub drain

caulk tub

Caulk around tub surround using bathroom silicone and let cure for 24 hours.

new bathtub

Hang curtain and pour yourself a hot bath!

Mark Bower owns Aberdeen Mobile Home Repair and is the author of "The Manual for Manufactured/Mobile Home Repair and Upgrade" available on this website.

The Manual for
Manufactured Home Repair & Upgrade

"Every winter my roof leaked around the swamp cooler. We even had a couple mobile home repairmen out to seal it. Nothing worked and this went on for 5 years," said Maureen of Elko, Nevada. "Then last summer I ordered The Manual and it suggested I use neoprene to seal the leak. Since then I've had no leaks at all!"

Maureen is referring to The Manual for Manufactured/Mobile Home Repair and Upgrade by Mark Bower. Most just dub it The Manual. Bower owns and operates Aberdeen Mobile Home Repair in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Maureen isn't alone. Hundreds of others have written to Bower sharing similar stories of how The Manual has solved their problems. Esther of St. Louis, Missouri, writes, "We had squeaky floors in the living room and without The Manual, I would have had my husband tear out the floors and put in new ones. What a lifesaver!"

Bower enjoys the letters he receives regarding his manual. "I wrote this manual from experience," says Bower. "I'm not just some guy with his feet up on the desk - I'm out in the field every day doing what I write."

Tom of Lansing, Michigan, followed the simple instructions on installing a shut-off valve and saved $75 on a service call. Mary of Churdan, Iowa, writes to say she uses the manual to keep the repair guys she hires honest, "When I had my home releveled, I sent two different contractors packing because I knew they weren't doing the job right. This manual has literally saved me hundreds of dollars!"

Bower has updated his manual for 2004. More information was added regarding additions and porches. "We added details on attaching porches so they don't leak even if they shift with the seasons." says Bower. With high energy prices now upon us, Bower says he's also included a section on building a solar heating panel. "Find an old sliding glass door and you can build one for under $100," says Bower who built two panels for his own 1800 square foot manufactured home. "You'd be surprised at how much heat they create when the sun is shining."

David of Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, says The Manual should be called, The Mobile Home Bible. Dave writes, "I wish I had your manual when we had our 1965 Star. It would have saved me WEEKS of work!"

Vicki of Ocala, Florida, bought Bower's manual because it had instructions for installing a metal roofover. "My son and husband had the roof up in 2 days from start to finish," says Vicki. "The 4 inch overhang is awesome - no more water running down the siding. Great roof, great instructions, I love it!"

The Manual also helped Pam from Duluth, Minnesota, replace her skirting and repair her underbelly. "It gave me the courage to tackle these projects," writes Pam. " I saved a lot of money by being able to do it myself."

Bower says many manufactured home owners are do-it-yourselfers, and he's glad to be able to provide them a tool, The Manual, to help them do more.

Get The Manual Now!

Mark Bower can be reached at [email protected]


Manufactured Housing Repair On-Line

The MH Parts Store On-Line   MH Parts may not be very pretty... but when you need them you just can't do with out them. Don't run all over town to assemble the things you need for that home renovation or repair. Order from our on-line parts store. Everything you need is here from doors, windows, screens, plumbing and electric parts, bath and kitchen fixtures, roof and ceiling components, and more.... even set-up materials, The Part Store's Owner/Managers, keep it simple, they just provide you with the best possible products available.

The Manual for Manufactured Home Repair & Upgrade   If your looking for a book that covers all facets of manufactured home repair, you've found it! This is the only book of its type, available to the public, that we have been able to find. As you would expect from the title, The repair and upgrade techniques described in this manual are specific to manufactured homes. This book will answer almost every question on manufactured home repair that we have ever heard. Not only does this book show you how to repair and maintain your home, but also great methods for upgrading it.

The Manufactured Home Repair & Renovation Forum   An open discussion group where all are welcome to participate. No registration necessary! Discussion threads covering a wide range of questions, answers, and relating of personal experiences involving MH Repairs. Moderated by Tracy L. Mason of MB-Quality Contractors, from Greeley, CO. Ask our experienced manufactured home repair and renovation contractor about your home repair needs! Basic home fix-it techniques to trade secrets.

Advanced Foundation Systems   Designed and engineered for manufactued homes, These foundation systems add a high level of strutural stability and have proven most cost-effective for the manufactured home, buyer. Advanced Foundation Systems meet or exceed industry standards, and have been proven safer under adverse conditions. Advanced Foundation Systems offer you the best foundation technology available for your manufactured added safety and a lower cost.

Finance Your MH Renovation/Repair   There are many loan programs available to MH Owners. Secure the money you need to renovate, upgrade, or even expand your MH. One stop shopping. select your loan preferences and we will forward your request for loan information to as many as a dozen participating manufactured housing finance offices.

Skirting For The 21 Century Manufactured Home   System-1 is what skirting should be- 100% solid concrete. System-1 is not an imitation or a look alike - it is the original concrete skirting system that resists the elements from the summer heat of Texas to the harsh winters of Minnesota. System-1 is built to last and is designed to stay put for years of dependable service. Stop chasing your skirting down the street and look at just some of the benefits System-1 concrete skirting provides you.

Hardboard Siding Repairs   Does your Manufactured Home have hardboard siding that is swelling, rotting, or buckling? You might be entitled to a Cash Settlement! Find out if you qualify HERE

Manufactured Housing Yellow Pages / SERVICE COMPANIES   The Yellow Pages is an ever expanding data base that is growing into one of the richest resources in the world for locating and contacting companies that participate in, or offer services to, the manufactured housing industry.

The Mobile Home Expert   The business of installing and servicing manufactured homes is rapidly moving away from the world of the one pick-up, one jack, local set up and repair guys and into the world of certified tradesmen, and licensed contractors. The modern manufactured home is greeted with stiff compliance codes regulating construction, warranty and installation. As more and more local agencies get involved in the inspection of installations it gets more and more difficult to know what the rules of the game are, especially if your operating in more than one jurisdiction. Consult with R.T. Bonney, who has participated in all phases of the industry over the past 30 Years He can provide solutions for the modern problems of operating most types of manufactured housing business.

Floor Repair Info Kit   includes a 25 minute VHS video about repairing the floor underneath your toilet, and a booklet on floor repair. Price:$25.95 - Shipping & Handling:$3.90

Painting and Texturing Paneled Walls   By following the steps in this 20 minute video, your paneled walls will look darn near like textured sheetrock. Works on both wood paneling and vinyl-covered paneling or sheetrock. Price:$19.95 Shipping & Handling:$3.90

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