Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Case of the Cast Iron Tub

We knew there would be surprises along the way in this bathroom remodel. In fact, if we didn't find any I would be convinced we were skipping steps that we'd regret later. So when it came to the dismantling of the bathtub to finish up the demo portion of our renovation, of course there had to be a few kinks in our plan. 

First up, the confusion around how to get our drain disconnected. Youtube videos made this seem like pretty straightforward step, and we equipped ourselves with a $15 Tub Drain Wrench to get the job done. Hopefully this very specific tool will get several uses over the years.
The drain plug popped off easily enough, but the screw inside the drain was a tricky beast. Bob spent a good 20 minutes working it with a pliers, stripping off quite a bit of metal in the process.
It came loose eventually, and with a push of the tub we could see that the drain was successfully disconnected. The overflow cover plate was a much easier thing to tackle after that!
As Bob got the bits of drywall out of the way, we learned something else about our tub: it is cast iron. Hard to believe considering the quality of a lot of our builder grade material in this condo, but apparently they went big when putting in the tubs.

You might wonder why we don't just keep a nice 'n solid tub like this, and the answer is not just, "because we already bought a new tub." We don't love the shortness of this tub, it only sits about 13" high and our new one will be 19". We are planning on running floor tile up the side of the tub, which requires a drop-in style. And the finish has gotten quite dingy over time, even a good scrubbing hasn't really fixed it.

Everything we read about tub removal had an asterisked section that called for destruction of a cast iron tub for feasible removal. This 300-400 lb beast was not a "Bob & Lydia" kind of job.

So back to the Ace Hardware we went, this time to pick up a $35 sledgehammer. We found an old blanket and covered the areas of contact to prevent flying shards. 
With a quick prayer that our sledging would not make angry neighbors, Bob started swinging. It seemed to get easier after a few good cracks. This is also how we discovered what was underneath our tub - extra insulation, an old rag and a couple pieces of wood. Lovely.
Pieces were collected as they broke off and soon enough the tub was a manageable size for us to lift.
We geared up our trusty handcart and got the rest of the tub out of sight, out of mind and into our storage area. We'll bring the pieces to our local metal recycling location and see if we can't get a few bucks out of the deal. Don't mind us, our tub is just taking the elevator. . .
Speaking of taking out the garbage, we spent part of our Saturday at the dump. No, not The Dump (can you think of a worse name for a furniture store? But then again, I do always remember their name. . .). I mean the actual dump. Our bathroom job is small enough not to warrant our own dumpster rental, but large enough that our debris had piled up beyond what we felt comfortable placing in our condo's dumpsters. We loaded up the car with bags of tile, drywall, sink and toilet pieces and headed to the South Side. 
The unfortunate part of the story is that the minimum price to dispose of the material was $60 for the first ton. We ended up having about 300 lbs of debris, not quite the 2,000 we paid for. I'm sure with a little more digging we could have found some competitive pricing, perhaps in the suburbs, but we were ready to clear out our storage area and get the demo off of our list! 

I seriously think every person should have to visit a city recycling plant like this to get a view into how much garbage we produce. Amazing.


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