Removing an old bath

Removing an old bath in an orderly manner will make the job easier.

The difficulty of removing a bath will depend a lot upon the location of the bath - if the bath is in a small room and the taps and waste pipe are hard up against a wall, it will be harder than if the taps and pipe are readily accessible.

Clear the work area; bathrooms are often fairly small so remove everything you can to give you as much working area as possible.

The first things to do is to turn off the water supplies to both the hot and cold bath taps and remove all side panels fitted around the bath. If the side panels are mounted on a framework, this will also need to be removed - if the framework is going to be used around the new bath, take some care to minimise any damage.

Then, with the plug removed from the waste outlet, open both bath taps as much as possible and allow the water to drain from the pipes, into the bath and out through the waste - opening the taps on a sink/basin on a floor below will speed the draining and lower the water levels in the pipes.

Before disconnecting the water supplies to the bath, consider if you will need to reconnect the supplies to the rest of the property once the bath is removed - if so, you will need to have a method to seal the pipes at the bath.

Locate suitable points to break the water pipes to the bath; check for earth bonding straps and wires on the pipework, remove these when necessary and push to one side:

  • If the pipes to the taps are not going to be reused, it's probably easier and simpler to just cut through the pipes (see the last option below) rather than trying to work in usually restricted space.
  • If access to the taps is easy, undo the pipes from the actual taps.
  • If access to the taps is restricted, look for a compression joint in the tap pipe-run someway away from the actual taps; breaking this joint may make the job easier - remember that breaking a compression joint below the level of the taps will release more water, so have something to hand to catch the water or to mop it up.
  • If access to the taps is restricted and there is no compression joint in the pipe-run, you may be able to use a tap spanner to remove the pipes from the actual taps.
  • A further option is to just cut through the single water pipe feeding each tap - again, more water will be released, so have something to hand to catch the water or to mop it up.
    Using a hacksaw to cut the pipes will mean that it will not be possible to fit new connections at the cuts, using a pipe cutter in probably limited space may be awkward but should allow new connections to be fitted.
    This option isn't as drastic as it sounds especially if the bath is going to be relocated - even with a new bath going in the original position, having to add compression joints away from the taps can make reinstallation a lot easy.

Dismantle the waste outlet pipe from under the bath and also the overflow pipe from the bath - this may release more water, so have something to hand to catch the water or to mop it up. If the waste trap has a screw coupling to the pipe to the drains, release it and carefully (keeping it level) lift out the trap and pour the water from the trap away. If the pipe to the drains goes into a stack pipe, stuff an old rag into the end to prevent fumes from entering.

The gap between the bath and wall needs to be opened up:

  • If the gap is filled with sealant, use a craft knife to cut through it - you'll probably hit the fixing brackets with the blade, just lift it over the bracket and move along.
  • If quadrant moulding covers the gap, remove it.

Locate and undo any fixings holding the bath to the walls. Wall fixings will usually be secured to the wall under the tiles surrounding the bath and to remove these a few tiles will need to be broken.

Check for earth bonding straps under the bath, remove these and push to one side.

Make sure that nothing will obstruct the bath when it is lowered, pull any pipes away from under taps etc so that the taps won't push down on the pipes. Under the bath, remove the fixings holding the feet of the legs to the floor (if fitted). Screw up the legs so that the bath can drop - this should minimise any damage to the surrounding tiles.

A plastic or steel bath can now be lifted out, make sure that it clears any pipework under the bath. A cast iron bath can be more awkward to move due to their weight. If a cast iron bath is not going to be reused or sold, it is usually easier to break it up in-situ - see below. If removing a complete cast iron bath, make sure that there are enough people to easily lift and move it, moving it down a stairway, and around corners can be quite exhausting.

To break up a cast iron bath.

When breaking up a cast iron bath, wear protective goggles, heavy gloves and ear defenders. If there is pipework under the bath, place a couple of lengths of timber either side of the pipe so that when the bottom of the bath drops, it hits the timbers and not the pipework.

Place an old sheet, blanket or curtain under the bath (to catch pieces which drop) and another one inside the bath (to stop pieces of cast iron flying round the room). Break up the bath using a large hammer to hit the bath through the sheet etc, start near the outlet hole as this is the weakest point - remove the pieces as soon as they are in manageable sizes.

Be careful when handling the broken pieces of cast iron as they will be very sharp.