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Thread: Breaking up a cast iron bathtub

  1. #16
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    Some cast iron tubs have removable feet that are worth saving.

    You might also find someone who will do the heavy lifting for a free tub on Craigslist.

    There is one a neighbor gave to us and helped me move it to use as a water trough in our pasture.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  2. #17
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    I think I would try a sawzall first and see how quick that would cut it. Smashing it with a sledge could lead to other problems if a piece goes flying in the wrong direction or the sledge finds something easier to break. I added that last part as a friend found out that the new ceramic toilet bowl (even with the moving blanket he covered it with) was even less of a match for his sledge hammer than the cast iron tub.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Some cast iron tubs have removable feet that are worth saving.

    You might also find someone who will do the heavy lifting for a free tub on Craigslist.....jtk
    Good point about the feet.

    I'd happily give the tub away if I thought I could count on the recipient being responsible for any damage. It could do a lot of damage on the way out of the house.

  4. #19
    Sledge hammer, but not necessarily your biggest one (what, doesn't everyone have a half dozen different weights to select from?). I'd probably use my 3 pound one or maybe gentle strikes from one of the larger, longer handled ones. Wear protection and throw a sacrificial blanket over it (as noted above), and don't hit it with all your might, just enough to crack it. Start with lighter blows to get an idea of how hard to hit it. After you get the first cracks, it will likely break easier, so go a little lighter. The goal is just to break it into easily handled pieces, not smash it into a zillion sharp pieces.

    Make sure you don't get into a situation where if the hammer breaks through, your hand and arm also go through and you get shredded by the sharp edges.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bill godber View Post
    The sledge works fine. Be aware that the blows will turn the porcelain into flying razor blades, gloves, a face shield, long sleeves and pants are a must! It doesn't make much dust but you'll find little shards of porcelain all over for awhile.
    The shipping blanket will contain many of the flying shards, but PPE is essential for this task as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    Sledge hammer, but not necessarily your biggest one (what, doesn't everyone have a half dozen different weights to select from?). I'd probably use my 3 pound one or maybe gentle strikes from one of the larger, longer handled ones. Wear protection and throw a sacrificial blanket over it (as noted above), and don't hit it with all your might, just enough to crack it. Start with lighter blows to get an idea of how hard to hit it. After you get the first cracks, it will likely break easier, so go a little lighter. The goal is just to break it into easily handled pieces, not smash it into a zillion sharp pieces.
    When I needed to remove the cast iron bath tub from 30 years ago, our house I attacked it with a 5# hammer. The tub took that beating for over an hour with nothing but a pile of porcelain shards to show for it. My neighbor heard the banging from his house and came over to lend a hand along with his 20# sledge. We finished the break up in about 10 minutes with the heavier hammer.
    Lee Schierer
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  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Rutherford View Post
    Good point about the feet.

    I'd happily give the tub away if I thought I could count on the recipient being responsible for any damage. It could do a lot of damage on the way out of the house.
    You might be able to word an add so only people with insurance to cover problems could apply.

    For the prices some are getting:

    Cast Iron Tub.jpg

    Pros might be interested.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #22
    Having done a number of these, I would suggest a full face shield. The enamel flys around in a rather erratic fashion.

  8. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Frederick View Post
    Having done a number of these, I would suggest a full face shield. The enamel flys around in a rather erratic fashion.

    As I started reading this thread was my first thought, and safety glasses too.

  9. #24
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    A couple whacks with a sledge. It's very satisfying! Wear eye protection and a hard hat. No need for any more exotic tool.

  10. #25
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    It's done. In less than 15 minutes from the first blow the tub was gone and the job was done except for cleanup. It wasn't necessary to break the whole thing into tiny pieces - just small enough to carry down the stairs. That was about 5 large pieces and a bucket of smaller ones. A built-in tub would probably have taken longer. The first picture is what we started with.

    The first couple of hits with the sledgehammer were right in the middle of the side and did nothing but slide the tub against the cardboard protecting the wall. A good hit on the rolled top edge broke off a chunk and shook a leg loose so we rolled the tub on its side to keep it from falling off the supports and damaging the floor (Pic 2). A few more hits put a hole in the side. About that time neighbor Ted showed up and we let him take a few swings (Pics 3, 4) and that was all it took (Pic 5).

    Re prep: I disconnected the plumbing, taped the water shutoff knobs so they wouldn't turn and stuffed a rag into the drain. Before shutting off the water I ran some to be sure the trap was full because the tub had not been used for a long time. Everything moveable was out of the room and the cabinet, sink, toilet and closet door were covered with plastic. The tub stood on wooden pads that raised it about 3 inches above the floor. I didn't know how they were secured but they were pretty solid so I left them in place. We put a moving blanket under the tub to protect the tile floor and catch debris and put heavy cardboard between the tub and the wall. There were scraps of cardboard to set the sledge on.

    Re tools: We used a standard sledgehammer. I was surprised how flexible and resilient the tub was. It might have started breaking more easily with a heavy weight held against the inside or perhaps a 2 x 4 wedged from one side to the other. If the first hits had been offset a few inches from the support it might have provided a fulcrum for the metal to break against. I would have liked to try a pickaxe to start but there wasn't much room to swing it. Ultimately the sledgehammer worked fine with no accessories.

    Re PPE: I don't disagree with any of the suggestions about safety equipment but you'll see that Ted wasn't too worried. The other 2 of us wore coveralls, gloves, glasses and dust masks. There was debris on every square inch of the floor (Pic 6) but little at the level of the sink and almost none higher. Stuff flew but dust did not float. We had windows open and a floor fan but didn't bother with the fan. I have been in working environments that felt more hostile.

    Re cleanup: Everything cleaned up well with a broom and dust brush. My wife later went through with the house vacuum. I had the shop vac but didn't use it.

    The advice here helped a lot. Thank you.
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    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 10-17-2021 at 6:12 PM.

  11. #26
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    Glad it's gone, and also glad I could watch from here!

  12. #27
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    Love the demolition part of the job. Last time I did this ,the youngest guy on my crew at the time (17) grabbed a sledge and it took about 2 minutes for the whole deal. The clean up portion was quite a bit longer.

  13. #28
    Now to make you feel good, check out what antique dealers are asking for a claw foot tub.

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