Plumbing Problems (Part II: Tub Turmoil)

As usual, it started out as being all my fault, although I will thoroughly deny it. In Plumbing Problems...Part I, I mentioned a small hairline crack in the bathtub. This story continues from there.


I had climbed into the shower before work. A sharp "CRACK" (and searing pain in my right leg) let me know there was a problem. Namely, my right foot had gone THROUGH the bottom of the tub.


I tried to pull my foot back out. No luck. I hollered for Chew.


He appeared in the doorway and, with a concerned look, asked me how in the bloody (heck) I had managed to break the tub. I believe a diet was also suggested, as he urged me to get out and let him see how bad it was.


"I don't think it's bad, just a little gash," I whimpered.


"I meant the TUB!" He groaned.


His suggestion that we dial 9-1-1 was vetoed. Instead, we busted out the already-cracked tub from around my foot. I bandaged the wound while he appraised the REAL damage.


When I got off work, my handyman had been busy.


"The buffoons who lived here before us had used one of those plastic liners, with NO TUB under it! Can you BELIEVE it? It's a MIRACLE this didn't happen SOONER!" He declared. "I've already taken measurements, and it turns out that the hardware store has a steel tub on sale for $99.00."


We stopped at the store.


They did, indeed, have a steel tub for $99.00. It was a 60-inch model. The space for our tub was a 54 1/2 inch area. Chew asked the helpful guy at the counter ("Dwayne") if they had a smaller size of the "sale tub."


"Yessir," Dwayne said. "We have a 54-inch model. It'll be $189.00, plus tax."


"$189.00???" Gasped Chew.


"Plus tax," said Dwayne. "It's a special order. Monday through Friday, the factory pumps out these 60-inch models. On the third Saturday of every month, they shut down the whole assembly line and switch molds for one day, to make the 54-inch model. Workers are flown in from Siberia, just so the regular workers don't get confused and start pumping out the mini tubs, by mistake."


Grumbling, Chew fished out his wallet.


"Now," said Dwayne, "Were you needing a left- or right-handed drain?"


Chew looked at him, blankly.


"What side of the tub would you like your drain?" Dwayne asked.


"On the same side as the faucets!" snarled Chew.


"Well, I need to know if you have a left or rightside tub." Dwayne rolled his eyes. Bad thing for Dwayne to do, to an irate Chew.


Chew pulled out a notepad and pen. He drew the bathroom. He drew the tub. He drew the faucets. He added arrows and measurements, with the drain area circled.


We got our tub, and Dwayne put a gold star on Chew's artwork.


Returning home, we lugged the steel tub into the living room. Chew went into the bathroom and began smashing the old tub into pieces. I heard cursing, and peeked through the door to find Chew, clutching his head with both hands.


Beneath the tub, he had discovered...nothing. No floor. The particleboard the previous renters had placed beneath the plastic tubliner had disintegrated.


Chew lugged the pieces of plastic tub out to the burn pile, and set to work tearing up the REST of the bathroom floor, including the beautiful tiling he had installed after the prior toilet fiasco. Balancing on the floor joists, he measured the room. As I started dinner (translation: ordered pizza), he returned to the hardware store. A bit later, he came home with a Fan Van load of wood, nails, and various tools. He hammered and sawed, for several hours. By bedtime, we had a floor.


Of course, the toilet he had painstakingly installed the previous week was now in the hallway...


"I'll put the tub in after work, tomorrow." He said.


True to his word, Chew got off work early the next day. I found him, reading the directions on the back of the new tub's box.


"Five easy steps," He read. "Sounds simple enough. Step one: Put tub in position."


We maneuvered the steel basin into the bathroom, carefully lined it up, and...ripped a giant hole in the drywall.


Confused, we remeasured the wall space... 54 1/2 inches! We looked at the tub box...54 inches! We must have angled our entry wrong. We tried again. Two more massive gouges into the walls. Chew measured the tub...56 1/2 inches.


It seems that "54 inches" was the length of the INSIDE of the tub.


I thought quickly.


"Well," I said, "If THIS tub went, I bet the tub in the other bathroom will, too. We can put THIS tub in OUR bathroom, and install a shower, in here!"


We returned to the hardware store.


Chew had already determined that the gravity-feed for the old tub would not drain a shower (hence, the rotten floor), so we were here to buy lumber so that he could build a platform, to mount the shower on.


My role was to calculate the number of boards needed to create said platform. I figured we could do it with 2 boards and 2 pieces of wood sheeting. As I waited for Chew to return with more nails, I noticed a sign. "We'll cut your lumber to size, $1.00/straight cut!"


When Chew returned, I showed him the sign.


We scouted around the store, 9-foot boards in tow, until we found an employee who wasn't quick enough to evade us.


"We don't cut wood." she said.


I mentioned the sign.


"We don't cut wood." She repeated.


Frustrated, we toted our bulky load into the lumber yard (roughly the size of New Hampshire). Not an employee in sight. Chew stayed with the lumber, at one of the store entrances. I guarded the other. Our theory was, SOMEBODY must be here, and they weren't getting into the restrooms or breakroom until our lumber was CUT!


Patience paid off. Eventually, two guys peeked out from a building across the yard from us. We shouted. One tried to make a getaway in his forklift, but he was no match for Chew. My handyman drafted him with the cart full of lumber, taking the inside line towards the door, and cut off the worker's line at the last turn.


Defeated, the guy cut our lumber.


We headed home, victorious.


On the NEXT day, Chew had the platform finished, and we returned to the hardware store to buy the shower. After much debate, Chew decided it made no sense to buy a WHOLE shower, since two waterproofed walls were in place. Instead, he bought a shower BASE. He took it home, and it fit on his platform PERFECTLY! The only problem? The drain angle. The kit with the shower included a 90-degree elbow. we needed a 45-degree elbow. I went back to get the right part, as well as a new wax ring and hardware to reinstall the toilet.


When I returned, Chew was waiting. HE had to return to the store to get some kind of special sealant, to attach the base to the platform.


The NEXT day, I came home to a nice surprise. The shower was finished, complete with the third, waterproofed wall and a shower curtain! The toilet was reinstalled, better than ever. Chew had torn out our master bathroom's tub, lugged the steel one in, and had just returned from the hardware store (where he purchased the necessary pipes and elbows). Thanks to the internet, we were able to discover that the "stringer" mentioned in "Easy Step #4" is actually just a 2"x4", and Chew had it installed in place (even though there are no studs in the wall, and he had to build a sort of supporting frame to nail it up). Now we (once again) have TWO FUNCTIONING bathrooms, in Chewville!


Only one thing...


It seems that the tub did not include a drain, or something called an "overflow." Chew said we also needed some stuff called "Plumber's Putty."


So, we were off to the hardware store. Chew said, when we got home, we were going to have a big bonfire, to celebrate our newly finished bathrooms.

And, we did.  Chew started it by lighting those "5 Easy Steps," printed on the tub box.

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