How to Install a Bathtub: Setting the New Tub How to Install a Bathtub: Setting the New Tub

Now that you are ready to set the new tub into place, one of two things will happen. If you are using the old faucet system, simply slide the new tub in the exact same way as the old one came out and put your handles and spout back on. If, however, you are using this opportunity to upgrade the look of your plumbing, then you will need to do a little work before you slide that new tub into place.

1. Attach New Faucet Valve. Begin by examining the valve that came with your new faucet. Some valves are set up for the water supply pipes to come in through the top of the valve, some through the bottom, and some through the back. If the valve for the faucet that you bought requires a different piping set up than what you already have, then you have a little bit of plumbing work to do. Luckily, you have already found, or created, the access panel which will allow you to do this work.

2. Check for Leaks. Once you have the new valve set into place, you will want to pressurize the system to make sure there are no leaks. Make sure that the handles are in the closed position and turn the water back on. As the system refills with water pressure, check all of your new joints for seepage. It is much easier to do this now than to find out that you have a little leak after you get the wall sealed back up and the tub permanently installed.

3. Set the Tub in Place. Once you are confident that you have no leaks, you are ready to set the new tub into place following the instructions above. It is at this time that you should install the overflow and drain kit. Since each one is going to be a little bit different, depending on who made it, make sure you carefully read the instructions that came with the kit. One thing that you do need to make sure of is that the drain is set into the bottom of the tub with plumber's putty. This step will prevent draining water from flowing around the outside of the pipe and ruining your floor.

4. Level the Tub. At this point in the installation, you also need to make sure that the new tub is level. Most tubs are manufactured with a slight downhill slope towards the drain, but if the tub is out of level, it may not drain properly and will hold puddles at the far end of the tub. Since the floor of the tub is made to run downhill slightly, don't put your level on the floor. Instead, place it on the top ledge of the tub and use the shims underneath to raise and lower the tub as necessary.

5. Seal In the Tub. When the new tub is set into place and the overflow and drain kit has been properly installed, it is time to start the finish work. If you are replacing the floor in the bathroom, now is the time to do it since you already have your toilet and probably your vanity removed. If you had a tile surround over your old tub and you had to break a few tiles to get your old tub loose, now is the time to replace those as well. Once you are confident that all of the necessary repairs have been made, run a nice bead of caulk around the tub where it meets the wall and the floor. The tube will tell you how long it needs to cure before you can get it wet.

6. Clean Up. Cleaning up from a job like this doesn't require a lot of special chemicals. You may need some soap and water if you get caulk on your hands, but generally dust will be your biggest enemy. You should also put your toilet back at this time. Make sure you use a new wax ring. Even if the old one wasn't leaking, you should use a new sealing ring every time you take up the toilet. Trying to save a few bucks and reusing the old one isn't worth the risk.

Replacing your own bathtub can be a labor intensive job, but it's not technically difficult. This makes it a job that you can confidently do yourself. It is a job that will allow you to make an immediate impact on the value of your home, and it will immediately increase the functionality of your bathroom. The time has come to kiss that old harvest gold tub goodbye. Grab a friend to help you carry the heavy tub and get started.
Brian Simkins is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He enjoys using his 14 years of home improvement experience to educate and equip new home owners.

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