One of the first lessons we learned after starting to full-time RV is that homes on wheels are built for the road in more ways than one. For instance, after just a few years of everyday use, we had to learn the fine art of RV bath tub replacement. Here’s what we discovered:
DIY RV Bath Tub Replacement isn’t Too Difficult
In order for RVs to remain lightweight enough for the rigors of the road, durability sometimes gets sacrificed inside the rig. When it came to our four year-old fifth wheel, the first spot that showed wear and tear was in one of our most used appliances: our RV bathtub. Too small for a real bath but large enough for comfort when showering, the bathtub floor developed a hairline crack seemingly overnight.
We worried that water might be dripping through the crack, so we quickly applied Eternabond Waterproof Sealing Tape to the area. Normally used for repairing rubber RV roof leaks, Eternabond tape (and others like it) were made for repairing fiberglass boat hulls – so you know it’s durable. Rolls come in various widths and lengths.
We knew it wasn’t a permanent fix, but the Eternabond tape kept the crack in our RV bathtub watertight long enough for us to take our time researching the next step in this major RV repair: a total DIY RV bath tub replacement.
Replacing our RV bath tub and the surround unit seemed daunting at first. But once we gathered all the right parts and researched the replacement steps before tackling the actual job, it didn’t take more than a day’s work to get it done. This video gives an overview about how we did it, but keep reading for more detailed tips:
Things You Need to Know to Replace a RV Bathtub and Surround
Don’t try to salvage the original tub surround.
We’re frugal, so we wanted to salvage the tub surround. Unfortunately we found it incredibly difficult to remove intact, clean and re-install. We had to carefully remove all caulk, then use a flat pry bar release adhesive from behind the surround. – without cracking it. If we could do it again, we would spend the money for a new surround. The time we could have saved would have been worth the added expense.
Be prepared for the unexpected.
Once your plumbing is removed and the job is underway, you will be without water until you are done. Be prepared with extra water for as long as it may take to finish the job—which may be longer than you had planned.
Also, keep in mind that you don’t know what might be lurking underneath your RV bathtub until you actually rip it out. Thankfully we didn’t find dry rot but we did discover that our new RV bath tub was too shallow for the skirting (or apron) around it. In order to make the new tub fit, we had to come up with a hack. We could cut down the apron framing around the tub – or take the easy way out by fabricating a riser to go underneath the tub. We simply cut 1/2″ thick plywood to fit the tub platform, then cut a hole for the downspout. We attached this riser to the platform with drywall screws, being careful not to pierce any plumbing. This raised the platform just enough so our new tub sat firmly on the ground. If we had the opposite problem (a RV bathtub that was too tall), we would have created a riser for the apron framing.
Take Careful Measurements and Order the Right Parts
Finding the perfect replacement RV bathtub was difficult. We wanted a fiberglass RV tub, but decided upon the more common ABS Plastic RV Bathtub after reading Amazon product reviews explaining how the fiberglass bathtub suitable for our RV did not match the manufacturer’s specified dimensions. When we pulled the trigger and ordered our new tub, we not only received the wrong color tub due to a poor product description, but the drain was on the wrong side.
To avoid the hassles and waiting times we endured, take precise measurements of your current tub, including the length, width, and depth. And make note of which side your drain is on.
If you live full-time in in your RV, know that there will come a time when you need to replace the RV bathtub (or shower pan). Thankfully, many people have tackled a DIY RV bathtub replacement ahead of you, so don’t despair when it’s your turn. The job isn’t nearly as hard as you think it is if you do your homework, talk to other RV owners and visit helpful websites like the RV Repair Club.
About the author: Rene Agredano & Jim Nelson
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com
Ronald E. ~ “Mary was very friendly and made sure I was taken care of. She continued to keep me informed. Won’t leave home without.”