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Question DetailsAsked on 6/1/2017

how do you remove a cast iron shower pan connected to a copper drain pipe?

We are replacing a tile shower due to water leakage at the front corners around the shower pan. This is a second floor shower, set above the kitchen, so the plumbing and drain are not exposed, unless we cut the kitchen ceiling. We have stripped the tile and wall board in the shower. We can see that we will need to replace some subflooring and wall studs. We plan to replace with a custom tiled shower pan, so not worried about saving the old shower pan, which we now need to remove. The shower pan looks to be a cast iron model. The shower pan drain looks to be sealed around the copper drain pipe with a metallic material, soft enough for a chisel to mark it, but I cannot figure out how to loosen the drain to free the pan.

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Voted Best Answer

Since you are tossing the cast iron liner (this must be REALLY old - like 40's or earlier ?) - or do you mean a lead or copper pan maybe ?

Anyway, since the pan is trash and the piping leading to the drain will be modified to fit the new pan (no big deal once it is exposed), being careful to not cut so deep you unecessarily cut the drain piping if it will be saved (though it will usually all be changed for new plastic where it is exposed in the underlygin subfloor anyway), several ways:

1) desolder it - that soft gray seal is undoubtedly solder or possibly pure lead (if lead pipe) poured in hot as a seal - would have to melt the solder and while it is molten turn the fitting out counterclockwise, or sometimes lift up with channel locks or slipjoint pliers if the fitting is soldered/lead sealed into the pipe below it (in which case the fitting would have to get hot enough to melt the solder holding it to the underlying pipe too). Of course this method has issues if you get it way too hot or flame sneaks by into the underframing or someone did a plastic pipe repair underneath at some time (which could catch fire), so normally heat would be used only if subfloor is visible accessible to watch for fire and control it quickly if needed

2) if the piping underneath will definitely be changed out, put a pipe wrench into the drain fitting (with the screen removed) and twist it out if it has the crossbars in it - commonly they will twist out quite easy unless the solder job was real good

3) using a cold chisel, chisel at the lead seal towards the center, crumpling the drain fitting till it is small enough to lift the pan off it or breaks off

4) drill the drain fitting out with a plumbers reamer (large tapered spline toothed tool used to ream out the inside of metal piping after it has been cut, if you have one (usually come with galvanized pipe thread cutting sets)

5) if not a stainless drain fitting, use hand power grinder with abrasive wheel at an angle (use full face shield for this, because wheel pieces will come toward your head if it snags and breaks), so the wheel is cutting down into the drain and grinding away the drain fitting as you rotate the tool in a circle around the drain opening

6) use sledgehammer or heavy (5# or more) hand sledge to break away the cast iron pan at the opening - will crack and break up quite readily with a good HEAVY blow - watch out for flying pieces of metal - bad for eyes and feet/knees both if you kneel/step on one. And of course bear in mind may break more than expected so don't have all your weight in the bottom while doing this - especially if the under lying floor joists do not run all the way under the tub - I saw aq plumber drop right down into the underlying kitchen I was working in once because the whole bottom of the tub he was breaking up dropped away with him in it

7) if copper or lead drain pipe is exposed in the drain opening (no stainless drain fitting) then just run a short metal cutting blade on a sawzall around in the fitting (with the tip angled into the center) to cut it free - or if copper as opposed to brass or cast iron, just cut into the exposed flange with a cold chisel to get an opening started, then chisel around in a circle to peel the flange away from the cast iron pan

8) break up the pan starting away from the drain, using sledgehammer, leaving the drain area till near last - at which time you will have an opening into the subfloor to be able to reach in under and cut the drain pipe with a sawzall or hack saw or such

Have fun, and don't forget the full face shield and a wool cap or such on the head and gloves and maybe a long sleeved shirt when breaking up cast iron - the flying pieces can make a nasty cut that leaves a scar (as my arms show several places). Takes a good whack to break cast iron tubs and liners - easy with a big sledge hammer, may take a good few whacks with a hand maul or sledge to get a good seet of cracks started.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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