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Article posted: 6/30/2013 5:02 AM

Ask the plumber: Time to pull the plug on leaky tub


Q. My old cast-iron bathtub is badly stained, and it leaks around the drain. Plus, the three-handle mixing valve used to fill the tub constantly drips. I found a do-it-yourself resurfacing spray kit, and can try to fix all the leaks, or should I bite the bullet and get a contractor to rip it out and start from scratch? If so, what are my replacement choices?

A. I can tell by your question that you already know the tub should be replaced. That's good because the first step with any plumbing remodeling job is to admit that you have a problem.

Now it's time to move forward. You need to find a quality replacement fixture for your existing tub space. I've narrowed down some tub/shower choices to three basic categories:

Cast-iron tub: Cast iron is still a popular choice because of its durability and color selections. Chances are you'll find a new tub that fits your space. However, new tile wall surrounds will more than likely have to be installed with this option.

Acrylic or Vikrell type: If you are looking to skip the tile "mud job" wall option, you can install lightweight and strong composite type tub/shower surrounds. This type of bathtub replacement often comes in three to four pieces that can be easily moved into place. Because the wall surrounds are included, there's no need to install new tile walls.

Walk-in shower: This is a great aging-in-place option where the existing tub is replaced with a large walk-in shower base. These special shower-only fixtures come in a variety of materials and are designed to fit existing tub spaces.

Note: If you go with the walk-in shower option and plan on selling your home soon, potential homebuyers may walk out if they need to have a bathtub.

Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV and Internet shows. Visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande@cs.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.

Scripps Howard News Service

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