Accessing a Whirlpool Tub (with Picture)

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Old 09-02-13, 02:22 PM
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Accessing a Whirlpool Tub (with Picture)

We have an upstairs whirlpool tub that hadn't been used in a while. When we attempted to clean it and turned on the jets, water began dripping through the downstairs ceiling. It's made of faux marble and the house was built in 1986. Is it possible to take the one side of the tub off? You can see the seams in the picture. I don't know what type of adhesive would have been used in the 80's on tubs. The only other access would be to cut a hole in a bedroom wall. The other 2 walls are the outside of the house.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 02:44 PM
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Oh.....you mean those tubs need to be serviced

When they were installed there was supposed to be an access door installed to service them. Many builders overlooked that need. Rather then trying to remove the front it maybe easier to cut a small access hole in the sheetrock to look in.

Looking at your picture....it looks like the power switch is in the left rear. That most likely is where the motor unit would be. Unless I miss my guess.... the left hand side of the tub faces the bedroom.

However....you have a leak and that could be coming from anywhere.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 04:43 PM
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Plan A: I would check the walls that surround the tub. Hopefully at least one is in a closet or somewhere good to cut through the sheetrock and see what's going on under the tub. Also, since you've already got water damage below you could cut open the ceiling and come at the problem from below.

Plan B: "Accidently" swing a sledgehammer at the tub and start planning a bathroom remodel. And, if you go with a jetted tub don't forget access.
 
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Old 09-04-13, 07:58 AM
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Thanks for the quick replies. Well we've proven that the tub has a severe leak when the jets are turned on and only after the jets are turned on. It stops when the jets are turned off. PJMax, you are correct in that the motor mount is on the left. There is also a bedroom on the other side of the left-hand wall (no closet). Using a toy periscope from the bottom floor and peering through a pocket hole from a recessed light, I can see that water is streaming down the right wall of the tub and through the sub-floor beneath the tub. It was a steady stream and started less than a minute after the jets were turned on. If I cut a hole in the bedroom wall, it may be difficult (or impossible) to even reach the leak with all the pipes, motor and actual tub in the way. I'd have to make a very wide hole and even then I may not be able to reach the leak because of the tub. Do you think I could cleanly break out the large rectangular side of the tub and possibly replace it with tile and an access door? Would it be better and less risky to cut through it along the seams instead of trying to break it out? If I came up thru the bottom, I'd have to cut through the subfloor beneath the tub which may not be a very good idea.
 
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Old 09-04-13, 09:23 AM
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So then you'll need to remove the tub surround cover in the bathroom.

Just so you are aware..... that wall in front of the tub is attached to a wooden frame. It wouldn't be glued directly to the tub. The framing around the tub should be similar to wall framing where there is a piece of wood at the top, the bottom, in the corners and maybe a vertical beam or two in front of the tub.

It would make sense to try to remove it from the seams.
 
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Old 09-05-13, 08:02 AM
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Thanks PJmax. I imagine that the side is glued heavily to the frame. Do you have any suggestions on pealing it away from the frame? After thinking about it, I may just remove the caulk from the seams, drill a couple of holes in the side to give me something to grasp and try to pull the side off. I don't think physically cutting down the seams with a tool like an angle grinder or multi-tool would help much because the seam is already there. Do you agree or have another suggestion? Would heavy duty suction cups be an option?
 
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Old 09-05-13, 02:32 PM
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You might get lucky and be able to remove the front panel in one piece but if you do I'd run out and buy a lottery ticket. In addition to the caulk in the seam around the perimeter they are usually glued to the framing behind. I don't think the brittle faux marble is strong enough to pull away from the glue without breaking. You can try the suction cups used to carry granite and sheet glass to pull on the face without having to drill holes but again I expect the material will crack/break before the glue lets go. Even with good access to the back side it can be difficult. But if the installers just used just a few dabs of glue you could get lucky.
 
 

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