How to remove a shower base

by Roger

Ever get tired of trying to scrub that ‘white’ (it started life as white, anyway) acrylic or fiberglass shower base? Ever try to take one out? It’s stuck, isn’t it? Ever get tired of rhetorical questions?

In order to create a shower floor for tile you must first remove that big, ugly base which seemingly attracts dirt from some unknown aspect of the magnetic force of the universe. It’s not really the magnetic force – it just feels like it. It’s actually the rubber force – as in the rubber gasket around the drain pipe.

Rather than attempting to pry the base out of there until you’re almost ready to fire up the propane torch and see if it will actually melt (it will), you can simply pry the ring from around the drain pipe and  lift it out. Really.

This, of course, is assuming you have already removed the screws or fasteners attaching the flange to the studs. Almost all pre-formed shower pans have a vertical flange, about 1″ high, around the perimeter which may or may not be visible without removing the wall substrate.  There is normally one or two screws or nails directly above or through this flange on each wall which hold it to the studs. You need to remove these first.

Shower Drain cover

Photo 1 (Remove the cover)

I’m assuming this because if you are trying to pry your shower base up and have not removed the perimeter screws first – you should probably request some assistance from someone. Just sayin’…

This is gonna be quick and easy. Just grab your 5-in-1 tool (don’t have one? Why not – everyone should have one! If you signed up for TileTips you’d already know that) or a screwdriver or something similar. Anything pointy will work. (Did I just type ‘pointy’??? I need a beer…)

Remove your drain cover – it’s likely just a plastic piece of crap cover over your drain pipe like in photo 1.

Pry the rubber gasket out

Photo 2

You should see a big rubber gasket around your drain pipe (the 2 inch pipe in the middle) and your shower base. It’s the big black ring in photo 2.

Just stick your pointy tool (that totally didn’t sound right) between the gasket and the shower base. NOT between the gasket and drain pipe – you may damage the drain pipe.

Then pry it up. It’ll only come up a little bit at a time. You need to work your way around the perimeter of the gasket a little at a time staying between the gasket and base.

Photo’s 3 – 6 show working around the drain gradually prying it up a bit at a time.

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 3

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 4

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 5

Prying the rubber gasket out

Photo 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you work the entire gasket out you’ll feel the final portion of it break the seal. That’s the best way I can describe it – you’ll simply feel when it no longer is sealed between the pipe and base.

Gasket's out!

Photo 7

When it does that you can simply grab it and lift it out. That’s it. That little three inch thick gasket was driving you crazy. Once it’s out the base will nearly levitate out of there.

Okay, it won’t levitate – but you can simply lift it up out of there and build a real shower floor.

One that can be cleaned without a sandblaster.

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bill

for some (local)? reason my shower base had a different setup (Aussie)and all I needed to do was unscrew the waste pipe connection below … unfortunately I followed suggestions and partially wrecked the shower base … however I have heavily siliconed the damage .. and now time will tell whether it remains watertight … thanks for info otherwise

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Furry

Mr. Roger elf, you are like a Christmas elf man . I just pulled a preformed ugly old white pan out of basement shower and had no clue how to get that old drain out, read one of your posts and literally within like 7 min. Of reading it and drilling around it to get the goop out and it coming right out I’m typing. You Mr. Elf are the best most informative I’ve ever came across and will be checking on your posts. I have been setting tile for roughly 15 years and have done only a handful of pans from scratch which came out nice but this was abit frustrating, never took on a preformed one until now. I thank you much. You can teach old dogs new tricks, you learn something new everyday.

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Carl

I guess this is more of a plumbing question, so feel free to “pass” if you don’t feel comfortable answering.

So we have a shower on the left, with tile walls and a shower pan installed on the home’s concrete foundation floor, and we have a tub directly to the right of it, with painted walls and no tile. We want to make the tub a tub/shower combo and turn the shower space into a closet. The shower plumbing is on the wall between the shower and tub and I can change it at the top to make the shower go out the right into the tub instead of out to the left into the old shower space, no problem.

Your instructions on removing the shower pan are great, and I’m buying your e-book on waterproofing around the tub with Kerdi before tiling that area, but what do I have to do to close off the drain permanently and close the hole in the concrete floor so it’s just a regular concrete floor that we can put laminate flooring over? Can I just cut the PVC off below the floor surface somehow and cap/plug it with a PVC cap/plug, and burry it by pouring in some bucket-mixed concrete?

Thanks much and stay weird.

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Justin

Roger,

This is the first post on Goolge to come up when searching “how to remove old shower”. It had the little excerpt from the site right in line with the search results and after reading decided you must have the answer.

Thankfully my remodel was planned and if need be I can get a new drain, I just wanted to share my experience. For starters, I didn’t have a proper shower surround to remove, it was one of those cheap ass freestanding stalls you can get at Menards. Buddy lemme tell ya, this sucker was a nightmare. I had to destroy plastic to get to the gasket, then of course the gasket came right out. I then found (after breaking apart the floor with a pry bar) that there was a lead gasket and another plastic mount. I won’t even go into replacing the valves that were at least 50 years old.
Suffice it to say, you pointed me in the right direction. So thanks!

-Justin

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Patricia

Hi (again),

I love your posts, they’re so helpful!

Today I followed your instructions to remove my shower pan and unfortunately the pan still won’t come out.

The pan is not attached to the studs, and I removed the gasket from the drain. I can easily lift the edges from the floor. Any ideas about what might be holding the pan in place? It’s definitely the drain area that’s the issue.

Thank you!

Reply

Roger

Hi Patricia,

Once you remove that gasket the 2″ pipe should sit loosely in the drain hole, you should be able to grab it and move it around. If you can’t then it is attached in some additional manner beneath the pan. If that’s the case then you can use an inside pipe cutter to cut it lower down into the pipe. If it does move around then it’s some sort of mortar or glue used on the pan itself to bond the pan to the substrate, in which case you can just pry the hell out of it. :D If you’re getting rid of the pan you can also take a hammer or reciprocating saw to it to remove it in pieces.

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Patricia

Thanks Roger – what is the ‘it’ you’re referring to? The pipe?

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Roger

Sorry, I meant the pan. If the pipe is attached in some strange manner to the pan itself you can just bust the pan up or pry it up.

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Patricia

Thanks! I got it – there was another thin gasket around the pipe.

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diane

we just install a new frameless shower enclosure and realized the frosted shower door is not what we want , how do we remove the door without breaking the shower pan ? thanks for your advise.

Reply

Roger

Hi Diane,

I imagine completely opposite of how you installed it. Why would you break the shower pan?

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amodoko

Love your site, been reading a lot lately. Unfortunately I found your site a bit late and used youtube for information to remove my old fiberglass shower pan. I used a drill to get rid of the rubber gasket and ended up nicking parts of the drain pipe. Does this need to be repaired? If so how would you personally repair it? Here is a link to a photo of the damage:

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/attachment.php?attachmentid=176711&stc=1&d=1433633518

Reply

Roger

Hi Amodoko,

Yes, it should be repaired. I would cut the pipe down as low as I could, then add a new coupling and pipe for your drain.

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sam

Thank you, will let you know how it worked out. Thanks
sam

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sam

Replacing me new shower base but the dfrin pipe is too short , any advice pleasE?

Reply

Roger

Hi Sam,

Get a coupler and add more pipe to it. You may need to cut the existing pipe even further back to allow for the height of the coupler, but you can then stub up any size you need.

Reply

GWR64

Hello smart ass.
I was searching for a LEAD shower pan drain removal topic. I clicke on a Channel 4 post. LOL It was showing exactly what i needed to do then BAM! They show a brand new pan installed already. WTF!? Why not post the hard part too?
I just read an article you posted. I know how to do it NOW……!

Do you think you could post a “How To” about LEAD not the rubber? Just sayin’. I good now but, I think a single post titled ” How to remove an old lead shower drain” would be great for YOU.
I saw a post by someone on your site that actually gave me the answer. BUT……..It was on your site so. I’ll Be Back!
GWR SINY

Reply

Roger

Hello GWR64 (if that IS your real name :suspect: ),

I’ve only taken out two (not many around these parts) and both were a complete pain in the ass. Not sure I could actually instruct anyone on the best way to do it since I sure as hell haven’t figured it out yet. :D

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Cathy A

Hi Roger-
I am replacing a shower that was built in 1970 and cause mold damage & an unplanned remodel. I was excited to see this topic because I can’t get the old drain out. A contractor person cut around the drain & too the shower pan out so that I could at least get the old tiles & stuff off the walls. My drain doesn’t look like the one in your picture. There is a silver ring that is stuck on after removing the grate. Inside the ring is what seems to be putty/caulk of some sort, but there is also metall–I can’t quite figure out what exactly it is. Does it seem reasonable to try drilling holes in it like the previous poster did? I don’t want to damage the pipe. Should the pipe be smooth–nothing that I will need to twist off?

I’m learning so much from your website! I’ve got to buy one or more of your books–I’m planning to do a fiberglass shower base because it seems easier, liquid waterproofing. Kerdi-boards sound great, but way beyond my budget. Thank you for all the great info!!
–Cathy

Reply

Roger

Hi Kathy,

You have a lead collar around your drain. It would have been placed there then melted into place to seal the transition. You can drill through it fairly easily. Just be aware, it is still metal and it will make your drill jump around if you’re not paying attention. Your drain should be cast iron, though, so just drill around the perimeter of it and you’ll be fine, it’s almost impossible to accidentally drill through cast iron. :D

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Scott

So, i was looking around for a suitable “pointy thing”
to pry out the rubber ring around the shower drain and it occurred to me… Why not drill-out the rubber gasket? I thought that if I could get a section out, then I could pull mightily with some needle-nose pliers. I inserted my drill bit (~1/4″) in the drill and applied drilling pressure to the surface of the ring. The bit fell into the gap around the outside of the ring, at the shower tray, and walked around it and lifted the ring out using the grooves in the bit!! Voila! I was careful not to damage the drain pipe, but this proved to be freakin’ magic.

Reply

Roger

Hey Scott,

Excellent solution! Never thought of that – thank you!

Reply

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