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How To: Replace Your Mobile Home Bathtub and Surround

In most cases, changing out your mobile home bathtub isn’t exactly a DIY project. If you’re changing the size or type of tub that’s installed you’ll have to reroute and reconfigure drains and water supply lines, and that is a job best left to a qualified plumber. But if you’re just swapping out an old or damaged tub with one of the same kind, then the project becomes much more within the grasp of any capable DIY-er.

Removing the Old Tub
First, make sure the water supply to the tub is shut off before you begin. To remove the tub, start by disassembling the drain pipe. Make sure you completely separate it from the tub including the overflow drain pipe. Sometimes, if you just dismantle the p-trap the overflow drain can be left on the tub. Next, remove the faucets and any other fixtures. Unscrew the waterlines that supply the faucet and remove the nuts that secure it to the tub wall.

Now we need to pull the old tub surround. If it’s held in place with plastic rivets you can just cut the heads off with a utility knife or razor blade. Then take that blade again, and cut around the edge to cut the sealing caulk away from the wall. Once it’s free, grab one side of the surround and peel it off the wall. You should now see the lip of the tub and the screws that secure it which you should remove. With all of the screws out you should be able to lift the tub out and remove it from the bathroom.

Installing the New Bathtub
First make sure that the rim supports around the edge are at the correct height for the new bathtub and install new supports if the old ones are rotted or too low. Make sure they’re anchored into the studs.

Take the time to install a brand new drain in the tub if it doesn’t already come with one. Also, consider putting in a new faucet and waterline endings. It can help you head off leaks before they form. Sometimes when pipes are corroded and taken apart, any rust or damage to the threads or mating surfaces can prevent them from sealing again properly. It’s best to just replace them.

Now you can set the new tub in place while making sure that the skirt fits into the track on the floor. Drill a pilot hole through the lip of the tub and secure it to the wall with a screw. Make sure you don’t make it too tight, you could crack the tub.

Installing the new tub surround
A mobile home bathtub surround installs with glue and sometimes with plastic rivets, too. Outline the surround on the wall with a bead of glue and then just add beads of glue inside the outline. Set the surround into it then immediately pulling the surround out of the glue. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but wait 2 minutes and then set the surround back in the glue. This “airs” the glue and helps it adhere better to both surfaces. Go over the whole surround every few minutes and press it into the wall to make sure it stays stuck.

Fixtures and Faucets
Now is the time to decide if you’re installing a new faucet before you cut big holes in the surround. If you’re installing a brand new faucet, it should come with a template to cut the required holes. Use plumbers putty on the back of the faucet and set it in place in the holes you cut and secure it using the nuts that were included with it.

The rest is the reverse of removal: hook up the water lines and make sure the drain is connected. The final touch is to caulk all the way around the surround and let it cure for a full 24 hours.

You’re all done! Enjoy your new tub with a hot bath!


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