How to Remove a Cast Iron Tub


    During renovation or bathroom upgrade contractors or home owners often need to replace a tub. Not knowing what to do in complicated situation can get you stuck and project will freeze until a solution is given.

    One of these problems is heavy cast iron tub that we often seen in 100 year old houses. How do you remove cast iron tub from bathroom on second floor of the house?

    After many years of use, these tubs get rust on them and start crumbling off at corners. Of course it makes sense to replace it with something modern and more practical that does not weight like a horse.

    3 Options How to Remove Cast Iron Tub

    • Boom Truck Lift Through the Window
    • Carry Cast Iron Tub Though the House
    • Cut it or Break Inside Before Removing

    All options are different in cost and step by step tasks. Select what works for you and approach removing of cast iron tub with safety.

    Disconnect Plumbing Connections before Removal

    Cast iron tabs are older than we think, but do have one or two plumbing connections. Before tub is moved anywhere you need to disconnect everything carefully to avoid damaging drain and prevent future leaks.

    Every tub regardless of size or material made of has to have drain connection. That is of course unless it’s an artefact piece that stands in museum. Operational tubs at home always have pipe that diverts water after bath is taken towards sewers.

    With right plumbing tools unscrew and disconnect drain pipe from inside the tube. Afterwards lift it and remove as much pipe as possible towards the wall. It will prevent from damaging drain and it can be used for next tub.

    Get Help – Cast Iron Tub is Heavy

    Working alone is not even an option. Plenty of people overestimate their abilities and get injured. Let’s be safe and make sure everyone is safe at work.

    For such complicated lift we recommend three or four workers. While moving around through the corners you may need to let go and someone else has to spot you for holding iron tub.

    If decision was made to break it into pieces or lift with boom truck through the window, still need two people to do this job.

    Three Ways to Remove Cast Iron Tub

    Depending on abilities, machinery available or size of house hallways you may select one or the other way to remove cast iron tub. We just want to point out pros and cons of each way, and explain the steps.

    Boom Truck Lift Through the Window

    Every woman knows that bath tub has to be positioned next to the window. It is enjoyed with a nice view and shades can provide just enough privacy.

    If window is big enough and there is space for boom truck to come close to this specific part of the house, cast iron tub can be lifted and carried away.

    Straps are wrapped around the tub and secured to make sure it does not fall and break something on the way.

    This is the easiest but most expensive option to get cast iron tub out. Boom truck with operator and helper to direct tub out can cost more than $1000.

    Carry Cast Iron Tub Though the House

    For saving the tub’s full integrity the work to carry it out has to be precise. Unfortunately bath tubs are located either at the back of the house or on the side, where access of boom truck is not available.

    Cheapest but hardest for workers option on how to remove a cast iron tub from bathroom and carry out from a house is by hand. Good old lift and carry method that helped humans for thousands of years.

    There are many obstacles during the way, because cast iron tub is big and heavy. Hallways and door frames are narrow, stairs turn very sharp with little or no room to adjust and everywhere is finishing drywall, railings or other things that can be potentially damaged.

    Definitely call professionals who know how to move heavy objects. The idea is always to measure every spot of the house before moving cast iron tub and be certain that it will fit.

    Items along the way need to be protected with cover wrap and pads on the floor. Cost for such work can be $300 – $600, but help of family or friends can save you a lot.

    Cut it or Break Inside Before Removing

    Why go through all these problems when you can simply smash it in pieces inside the bathroom and carry out like that?

    It may seem fun at first, but breaking cast iron tub before removing it is very hard and dangerous work. That is especially hard when rest of the bathroom is staying the same with main goals not to damage existing tiles or walls.

    Every goes south when piece of 500 lb tub falls on the side and tiles crack. To protect the floor and walls everything has to be covered with protective sheets and thick pads.

    One person can complete this task within a day of breaking, cutting and carrying pieces outside. Expect to pay $200 – $500 for removing cast iron tub.

    How to Remove a Cast Iron Tub and Be Safe?

    This is no different than other construction tasks. Safety should always be priority at work and there are no excuses.

    List of Safety Equipment to Wear:

    • Safety Shoes with Steel Toes
    • Gloves that Prevent from Cuts
    • Safety Glasses to Protect Eyes
    • Back Belt to Support During Lift
    • Regular Construction Hard Hat

    Why do I need to wear all these just to remove a tub? Thousands of unexpected situations can occur. Few of examples are: dropping tub on foot, crushing fingers against the wall, hitting head during move, small pieces getting into eye during crashing tub.

    Tools Needed for Disconnect or Remove Tub

    First thing is first and to disconnect drain pipes you need some plumbing tools. Dumbell or regular drain removal wrench will do the job.

    To smash and cut our recommendation falls on sledge hammer and grinder with diamond blade. These two will take care of tub within minutes.

    Straps and pads are used for carrying tub and placing on delicate floor.

    Besides safety for personnel, we recommend floor mats and room divider covers that prevent dust flying to other rooms.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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