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Turn off the water at the main switch. Open the tub faucet all the way to drain any water remaining in the pipes.
Unscrew and remove the tub hardware. For hardware that’s sealed with caulk, cut through the caulk with a utility knife, then pry it off.
Note: If reusing the hardware in the remodel — or for another project — place all of the pieces in a plastic bag. Seal and label the bag so that it doesn’t get thrown away.
Wearing safety glasses and work gloves, remove the tile. To do this, break the tile with a hammer, then tap the edge of a prybar underneath individual tiles to pull them from the wall. Or, use Amy Matthews’ technique of simply hitting the tiles with a 2-lb. sledgehammer until they break away.
Safety Alert: Always wear safety glasses and work gloves when breaking up tile or doing other demolition work. Sharp shards of tile will fly in all directions. Also, wear gloves and use caution when cleaning up the sharp pieces of broken tile.
Once the tub plumbing is exposed, cut the water supply lines with a close-quarters tubing cutter. To do this, fit the cutter over the copper supply line, tighten it down and turn it around the pipe to cut. Keep tightening and turning until the pipe is cut through. Lay down old towels before cutting to catch any water remaining in the pipes.
To cap off the copper water-supply pipes, sand each pipe and the inside of each pipe cap with emery cloth. Apply soldering flux to the pipe and to the inside of the cap.
Fit the cap over the end of the pipe, then heat both with a soldering torch. Once they are hot, apply solder to the joint. The hot pipe and flux should suck the solder into the joint, sealing the cap to the pipe. Make sure to solder all the way around the pipe cap to prevent leaks. Repeat for the other supply pipe.
Safety Alert: Use extreme caution when soldering, making sure to keep the flame away from any flammable material. Don’t touch the soldered pipe or the torch tip until they have had plenty of time to cool down.
Wearing safety glasses, use a reciprocating saw to cut the tub drain pipe. Make sure to cut the pipe above the P-trap to keep sewer gases from backing up into the room. Tape over the open drain to keep debris out.
Safety Alert: Be extremely careful when working with a reciprocating saw. These powerful saws can have a strong "kick" that makes them difficult to control. If you’re not confident you can keep control of the saw to make the cuts, use a different tool (such as a hacksaw or other hand saw) or get assistance.
Carefully pry up the old tub. Be sure to ventilate the room and wear a dust mask, especially if there is any visible mold.
Safety Alert: Don’t forget an essential piece of safety equipment when moving a heavy bathtub: helpers. The tub removed in this demolition weighed more than 350 lbs., heavy enough to put anyone’s back out. Make sure to have enough help on hand to do the job safely, and don’t hesitate to call in a professional if needed.
Turn the water supply back on and check the capped water pipe for leaks. If water is leaking from the capped pipe, turn off the water and apply more solder.
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