Despite your best housecleaning hacks, there may come a time when you need to admit that your dirty old shower pan simply isn't worth saving. In that case, removing it may prove to be your only viable option. Be aware, however, that removing a shower pan requires a certain level of bathroom remodeling commitment. You can't remove the pan without damaging the surrounding walls or tile, so make sure you're prepared to patch or redo your shower walls.
Shower Pan Removal Overview
It's actually quite easy to remove your shower pan once you know how. The tricky part is understanding that there are screws or nails holding the shower pan in place. You can't see them, however, because they are hidden inside your wall. Once you've accessed them, your removal project will prove to be a simple task that you can perform in just a few minutes.
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Note that you'll need to do some demo work on your shower walls to get the pan out. If you have a fancy tile wall and you want to save it, you can try to do a gentle demolition. To do so, you can remove only the bottom row or two of tile with a flat pry bar and hammer and then cut through the cement board or drywall behind them. You can then patch the cement board or drywall and reinstall the removed tiles. This plan doesn't always work, however, so be prepared to redo your entire shower just in case.
Things You'll Need
Drill (if needed)
How To Remove a Shower Pan
Step 1: Open the Wall
Manufacturers build shower pans with a 1-inch lip along all edges that abut a wall. This lip is used to nail or screw the shower pan to the wall studs. To remove the shower pan, you absolutely must get inside the wall and remove these fasteners. You'll also need access to these studs if you're planning to install a new shower pan later.
- Begin by demoing your shower walls. If the walls have a fiberglass surround, EJ Flooring recommends using a reciprocating saw to score the drywall an inch or two above the surround. Cut at an angle so that you don't cut any deeper than the drywall itself. You don't want to hit any plumbing or electrical lines.
- Use a pry bar to remove the drywall between the tub surround and your cut line. This exposes the lip on the tub surround where it is nailed or screwed into your wall studs. Remove the nails or screws and then pull down the surround itself.
- If your shower wall is tiled, remove any bullnose finish tiles around the edge of the shower. You can then use your hammer to force a flat pry bar into the wall behind the drywall or backerboard. Use the bar to remove the wall surface.
- Clean up the mess. This is the dirtiest part of the job, and it's a good idea to clean up as soon as you're done with the demo work. This will eliminate tripping hazards since you won't have to work around the debris when removing the shower pan.
Step 2: Loosen the Pan
Locate and remove the screws or nails that secure your shower pan to the wall studs. Your pan may be secured directly to the studs or have brackets holding it in place. Run a utility knife between the outside edge of the shower pan and the floor. This will cut through any caulk holding the pan against the bathroom floor.
Step 3: Disconnect the Shower Drain
It's crucial that you detach the shower pan from the drain before removing it. Lifting the pan out while it's still attached to the drain can cause the drain line to break or crack deep within the pipe where it's not easy to fix. You can save yourself a lot of hassle and a plumbing bill by disconnecting the drain now. If any of the drain pieces give you trouble, spray a little WD-40 on them and then wait 10 or 15 minutes before trying again. This lubricant can help loosen things and can make removing corroded old drain parts much easier.
- Remove the drain cover by prying it out with a screwdriver. Some drain covers have a screw or two holding them in place; remove these first if necessary.
- Look inside your drain. You will see either a rubber grommet or a notched metal ring. This ring, if present, is called a compression ring and looks like the top of a rook on a chessboard, with metal tabs sticking up every few centimeters. To remove it, wedge your screwdriver against one of these tabs and tap it with a hammer to turn it in a counterclockwise (loosening) direction. You may also be able to slip a pair of pliers inside the drain and open them against the compression ring to turn it.
- Keep turning this ring until it's loose enough to lift out of the drain. After removing the compression ring, pull out the rubber gasket beneath it.
- If you have no compression ring, your rubber gasket will be a bit different and a little harder to lift out. Remove the rubber gasket by carefully prying it out with a utility knife or a 5-in-1 tool. Always place the tool between the grommet and the shower pan, not between the grommet and the drain. If you have trouble, HomeAdditionPlus recommends drilling out the rubber gasket. When doing so, work slowly and carefully, making sure you don't drill into the drainpipe itself or the subfloor.
Step 4: Remove the Shower Pan
Give your shower pan a final once-over to make sure you've removed every screw, nail, bracket and attachment point. Once you've done this, you're ready to lift the shower pan out of its position and get rid of it.
- Place your pry bar under the front of the shower pan and slowly begin to lift it up. Watch the drainpipe as you do this. If the drainpipe starts to lift with the shower pan, hold it in place by putting a screwdriver on the edge or lip of the drain pipe and pushing it down.
- Keep lifting the pan until it clears the drain.
- After the drain is free, lift up the pan and then turn it sideways to remove it. You may have to wiggle the pan a bit to loosen everything and work the pan out of the shower stall space.