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Tub strainer removal

NoeVNoeV Member Posts: 41
I have two cast iron tubs that need tub strainer removed. They seem old and difficult to remove using a tub strainer tool I purchased at a local hardware store. I'm thinking what is the best method to remove them in order to replace.


  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    There is a stouter tool

    But before you resort to that, try heating with a torch before you turn.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited March 2014

    I'd be using a electric heat gun for paint stripping. Under the wrong hands, one could overheat the porcelain and cause a blow out of chip.

    You really should post a photo of what you are doing. Strainers come out easily. The chrome/brass of a tub drain is a different issue and if the tub is on the second floor and you twist the shoe in place, you could have created a leak by moving the female part.

    Why do you want to take it out? I've only once in 40 years taken one out. Do you have a leak coming through a ceiling?

    In my experience, 99,99999999999999% of all ceiling leaks that do not run constantly (don't stop unless you turn off the water) are water leaks around the tub/shower when being used.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Good points

    I'm used to heating from the bottom, hitting only brass and perhaps a bit of spill to the cast iron.  High heat on the porcelain -- not good.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Sealing Compound:

    "Plumber's Putty" (someone named it that after they came out with acrylic glazing compound that if you  used it on a tub, shower or sink drain, it will leak when the water washes the putty out). The original window glazing is a linseed oil based putty. If you want to re-glaze an old window, you use a heat gun to soften the putty. Especially if it is old antique glass. Old tub drains were glazing compounded, white lead or linseed oil putty with white lead.  They lock up as tight as a crabs a$$. And that's watertight. Twist that drain with that tool, and use the "more is better" approach, and a little job just became a huge project. Especially if it is not leaking there and it is the tub/shower surround. Where my experience was that 99.99999999% of all intermittent leaks occur.

    Why do you need to change the drain? Because you think that the gasket is rotten? Unless the drain is loose and rocking back and forth, and you can see water coming out from between, it isn't leaking. In fact, I was taught to never use them on cast iron tubs. So I never did. For the last 35 years, I only used RTV without the gasket. Especially on fiberglass tubs.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Old drains

    Some designs just don't lend themselves to retrofits.  Had to change 50+ in an old hotel that had flip-up plugs.  The shoes were labeled Chicago Brass and threaded at 16 TPI, but the diameter did not match anything we could find.  Tried every adapter Watco sent us and stumped their designers. Got samples from several different vintage tub specialty places -- you name it.  Could not replace the shoes because they were ~3/8" shallower than anything made today, and located directly over a piece of rebar that we could not afford to remove (dangling slab edge, no supporting beam underneath.)  The solution was to have stainless adapter rings CNC machined, which allowed us to install a standard Watco drain trim and finally all is well.  I really like their push/pull closure, BTW.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Those are old.

    Those are old. The worst ones are the pre- 1960 Kohler 7172's with the pop up drain in the bottom that has the ell shaped linkage connected to the flipper and the other on the pop-up, The horizontal piece gets covered in hair and you can't get the hair out. Although a "Grabber" will help. If they didn't put an access panel behind the tub, you had to make one.  You have to get behind the tub and remove the overflow from the tee.
  • NoeVNoeV Member Posts: 41
    Tub strainers

    They don't leak. Yet. Only tried to change them to replace the broken built in cross hairs and chrome is worn. They're just difficult to remove and I am wondering if the replacements will have the same diameter and thread.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    At some point, they all sort of standardized. I think that Gerber is the highest selling tub drain today and all seem to be based on that design. But you won't know until you get it out. Getting it out is not for the faint of heart. My heart became faint whenever I saw one that needed attention. My attention often drifted to somewhere else if it required getting it apart on an old tub.
  • RobGRobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Tub Drain

    I understand why you pucker when you see an old tub drain Ice. One of the biggest problems is the thin brass threaded tailpiece tubing (tends to just break at the threads and just spin). The newer rapid fit PVC drains are so much stronger. Older is not always better.


  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited March 2014
    Old brass tubeing:

    De-zincificatiion can be a profitable thing. I used to get 1 3/8" scratch thread brass tubular  stock from Wolverine Brass just in case. There weren't a lot of cases but I was prepared. Nothing fits a leg tub like a 1 3/8" tub drain set.

    Unless you're very brave, (I am) a hole saw will drill a fine hole in the bottom of a leg tub and the over flow. You can then put a Gerber adjustable drain and not need a 1 3/8" to 1 1/2" reducing tailpiece to go into the trap adapter.

    There's a way to do it. Perfect every time. If you don't know how and want to know, ask.

    Same way you do to make bigger holes in an antique cast iron/porcelain sink without cracking or spalling off the porcelain.
  • jonny88jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139
    tub shoe removal

    here is how I do it.get your sawzall with a fine blade.drop cloth in the tub,saw inside the tub shoe and very carefully over the flanged part of drain.same principal as when you cut and cafer a n old nipple out of a fitting.Once you do this the shoe will come apart,bit nerve wracking the first time just go real slow.Good luck
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited March 2014
    The Blade of Choice:

    This is my blade of choice for projects like that. We plumbers usually take the guards off our Sawzalls to see better and make it easier to use. Just don't let the end of the blade bang into things while cutting.

    This 3 1/2" blade is a fine tooth narrow blade. Gets into tight spots but the blade easily bends. I's great for fine accurate cuts in wood. Like cutting wood baseboard to put end caps against it. You can cut out a Formica or Solid Surface top like Corian and do the radius cuts easily. But you can accurately make the cut you describe with this blade in a Sawzall. Buy a pack of 5 and it will last you a long time. Other than bending easily, they last a long time and cut through metal and nails like any metal cutting blade.

    Lennox makes a similar blade. I just don't know the number. A pack of 5 goes forever.
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,138
    the rigid one handed reciprocating saw

    it has a 3/4" stroke and low on power and it makes the cutting a bit less nerve wracking. it also use the same blades as the big saw-zall, so no double stocking of blades. It is now my go to for radiator spud removal.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    One-haded reciprocating saw

    had to go look that one up  Kind of like a Hackzall with more grunt.  I like it.
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,138
    3000 strokes per minute

    it is not quite the horsepower I have behind my hacksaw, but it is way faster then I can move the blade back and forth.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
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