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Old 10-02-2013, 09:51 PM   #1
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Bathroom Project of Doom

Well...you guys all did such a great job helping me with my laminate flooring project of doom, I figured it was time to seek everyone's advice with the next one. I was going to take a shower the other evening and at I noticed at first what I thought to be dog hair in my shower, but then upon closer inspection I realized they were several hairline cracks.



What we have here is the floor of a typical rental-unit grade fiberglass bathtub. It has been a bit of a mystery to me since I did the flooring project last spring. I noticed the tub was a little soft on the spot that cracked, so when I went under the house I was expecting to find rotted subfloor, but it appeared there was no subfloor under the shower at all. What's more, the layer of fiberglass exposed on the bottom of the tub did not give at all when I poked it. Are these tubs typically double layered?



Here is a picture with my hand for scale in it.

The crack seems to run the length of the soft spot. Due to recent economic and medical issues, a bathtub replacement is out of the question at the moment. I have a little experience with fiberglass, and it doesn't seem like it would be anything out of this world to repair, but if it's on a soft spot of the tub, it will just crack again. I just am clueless as to the best way to reinforce it so it doesn't crack again.

So this is what I got, this is my situation. Tomorrow I'm going to try to get in the crawlspace and get a picture of the underside of the tub so you all can see what is going on under there. Any input is as always appreciated.
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:44 AM   #2
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Angry

Overwhelming response I got here, lol...

So I decided anyway to cut into the tub and see what was going on there. Probably not the best thing to do, I'm not 100% sure what made me think it was a good idea, but it was cracked and sagging anyway, so a fiberglass patch would have just broke again. This is what I found.



I'm not exactly sure what I am looking at here. This material was under the layer I cut out, and it is damp to the touch. I'm not sure the material, it did not look the same as the subfloor. (yes, I was mistaken, there is subfloor that runs under the majority of the tub)



There was a gap between the fiberglass tub and the material under it big enough for me to stick my finger under.



I went into the crawlspace, even though I am extremely claustrophobic. The subfloor, like I said looks like a different material. It was also dry and no soft spots from the underside.



Up by the drainpipe, there is a cutaway in the subfloor where you can sort of see the base. I tried to stick my camera up there to get a picture but there was to much stuff in there to reflect the camera off of to get a good shot. My wife said she could not see any light coming through the hole I cut, so I'm not exactly sure what comes from where.

So this is about where I am stuck. I am not sure where to go next. Part of me is thinking that I could cut the floor out of the tub, fill in the space with expanding foam, sand it down, fiberglass over it, and paint it to match but then I'm not sure if that is the right way to go. Should we want to replace the tub down the line that will just make it all the more complicated I'm thinking. Thanks to medical bills we really don't have the money to hire a professional to replace it, but then I'm not sure what to do about the wet material under it. So I'm kind of at a loss...
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:46 AM   #3
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And as for that first picture, I am not sure what the point of the round hole in the wet material is. I did not put that there.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:08 AM   #4
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Looks like what you are seeing is a "mortar bed". Many tubs require a bed of mortar placed under them to support the floor of the tub (and thus the weight of the water and you). Some plumbers do it some don't. Back in the day when i was a plumbers helper we did it on all steel and fiberglass tubs. (not necessarily on the cast iron ones) It appears that maybe they did not use enough mortar when setting your tub and there was a void left under the tub. Over the years of flexing it cracked.

I'm not sure expanding foam is the right product to fill in the void. It will still flex. i would go for something more solid like hydraulic cement (Home depot in small containers) and then attempt the fiberglass repair. That should buy you some time until you can replace the tub.

Another thought.... You might look into one of these companies that does tub refinishing.... Maybe they have a technology to address this very issue. Might be cheaper than a replacement.

Good luck

Chuck
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:28 AM   #5
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Do you think I should keep cutting away the parts that have the cracks in them? I'm not really sure if I could successfully pack it under the soft spots with what I have opened up.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:28 PM   #6
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Well, I decided my day was going to well so I got out the Dremel and the respirator and decided to hack up more of the bathtub. This is what I found this time...





A little bit of obvious water damage right here, I'm guess that happened from showering with a crack in the tub...



I think I found the source of the sag. This piece off...whatever it is...is pretty loose and does not look like it is really attached to anything. On the upside, I got my hand down in there and the subfloor (about an inch down) seems fine.



I'm wondering if these two pieces were or should have been attached at some point. I remember my wife saying she heard a distinct crack once in the shower and after that was when it started to sag. I'm thinking this might be the cause...

So I'm starting to think bondo and fiberglass may find it's way out of the garage and into my bathroom. I know I don't really know what I'm doing, but I just pictured the supports under a bathtub would be a little more structured and organized than this...
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Old 10-14-2013, 12:40 AM   #7
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Bathroom Project of Doom

I would have called a Tub Doctor repair guy before I did anything

I would probably still call one at this point

I would also probably replace the whole unit now
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:57 AM   #9
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I'm not giving up...
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:00 AM   #10
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Seriously , if you refuse to replace the tub now , the only thing to do is call a Tub Doctor , I've seen the local guy fix a tub that a piece of scaffolding smashed the whole side of
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:15 AM   #11
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I would like to replace it now, I really would. My issue is currently my money is spent on bills, bills, food, and whatever is left, more bills. The only reason we even still have internet is we use it for work. Ideally I don't want to fix it up like new, I want to fix it up until this Spring when I get my tax refund and then can get someone in here to fix it for good. Hard times happen fast...
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:38 AM   #12
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Which brings the question to my mind, when you call places like Tub Doctor or ReBath, do they fix problems like poor support that cause the sagging? Or do they just focus on replacing/repairing the tub itself?
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:45 AM   #13
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Which brings the question to my mind, when you call places like Tub Doctor or ReBath, do they fix problems like poor support that cause the sagging? Or do they just focus on replacing/repairing the tub itself?
My experience with them has involved them fixing flaws or damage to the tub / shower stall itself and not the underlying structure
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:57 AM   #14
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So that needs to be fixed before I can get the tub fixed, otherwise my lard-ass is just going to break it again...
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:02 AM   #15
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Bathroom Project of Doom

What I'm getting at is if you can get a free estimate or low cost consultation from one of those guys , it would be worth it to come up with a game plan before you go Dremel mad on anything else
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Old 10-14-2013, 10:22 AM   #16
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ReBath offers free estimates and in home consultations. I'm going to see what they have to say before I cut any deeper. I just hate to have to borrow money.
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:44 AM   #17
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I strongly recommend against ReBath. They gave me an estimate of 5-6 thousand for a replacement fiberglass bathtub...
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:25 AM   #18
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I strongly recommend against ReBath. They gave me an estimate of 5-6 thousand for a replacement fiberglass bathtub...
So they didn't feel a repair was feasible ?
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:32 AM   #19
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Try out bathfitters as well. I can't remember the other company I had do an estimate.
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:58 PM   #20
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So they didn't feel a repair was feasible ?
They said since the support was the issue and it was so cheaply constructed that a repair was not in the cards, it would just crack again in a few months. Had it been supported correctly (which would have kept it from cracking) they would have been able to fix it. So using a little info I stole from them and spending a little time doing some research on my own, I am in the process of removing it myself. Needless to say home demolition is always educational...
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