What Causes An Old Bathtub To Creak When Standing In It?

What Causes an Old Bathtub To Creak When Standing In It?

Over time, bathtubs may begin to creak, but what causes this? You’ve noticed that lately, your bathtub creaks when you step in and out of the shower, and you’re beginning to wonder if it’s a problem you need to be concerned about. Is it going to shatter into a million pieces?

Key Points:

  • Bathtubs may creak over time due to uneven surfaces, floor problems, or heat expansion.
  • The main types of bathtubs are fixed and freestanding, with fixed bathtubs being sealed to the ground and freestanding bathtubs being portable.
  • It is not normal for a properly installed bathtub to creak, and small creaks may indicate an issue that requires a DIY fix.

The short answer is, no, you don’t need to be worried about your bathtub breaking and water flooding everything in your bathroom.

Let’s take a look at what causes a bathtub to creak and how to fix it.

You’ve just taken a shower and shocked your neighbors with your opera voice (not in a good way). As you step out of your shower, you notice it creaks as you move. Over the next couple of weeks, it begins to creak anytime you shift your weight in the shower. Now you’re concerned. While it may sound disconcerting, it is usually nothing too severe. There are several different issues your bath may have, causing it to creak 24/7 (and trust us, it has nothing to do with you).

What Are The Main Types Of Bathtubs?

To understand what bathtubs require what fix, let’s first take a look at the two main types of bathtubs located in many households. No, we do not mean the color or the finish on the tub, but rather if the bottom is fixed to the floor or not.

Fixed

A fixed bathtub is sealed to the ground. There is no moving or adjusting it like you would do to a bed you no longer liked the placement of. Often, a bed of mortar is used to secure the tub to the ground, making it unable to move. Mortar is a mixture of cement and water, so moving it is a hard no once it’s secured. This tub type is very popular in many different homes.

Freestanding

It is considered a freestanding tub if your bathtub can be moved to a different spot in your bathroom whenever you feel the desire to rearrange it. Sometimes called a portable bathtub, it is not secured to the wall in any way and is about 100x more manageable and easier to move than a fixed bathtub.

Another essential thing to note is the material your bathtub is made up of. For example, while acrylic bathtubs are aesthetically pleasing, the material they are made up of makes noise whenever it is pushed onto another surface. In other words, you may notice more creaking in an acrylic tub, as they are more prone.

Is It Normal For My Bathtub To Creak?

Bathroom with Tub and Shower

No, a properly installed bathtub should not creak. Small creaks here and there, and once in a while, is nothing to worry about; however, if it’s a daily whenever you step into the bathtub kind of creaking, there may be something to be concerned about. This indicates there is something wrong with the bathtub.

Not in a serious, burn the house down and buy a new one-type way, but more along the lines of putting your DIY helmet on, and let’s get started.

Why Does My Bathtub Creak?

There are many different reasons your bathtub is creaking, and none of them have anything to do with you. To understand how to fix a bathtub, let’s first take a look at what even causes a bathtub to creak, and then we’ll move on to fixing it.

Uneven Bathtub Surface

Over time, water that leaks out of the bathtub and steam in the air may cause some corrosion. This causes gaps between the tub and the floor, making it uneven when sitting on the floor. You might get a slight rock when this occurs, as the tub may not be fully connected to the bathroom floor.

Floor Problem

Get close to the floor, and have someone step around in your bathtub. Determine if the noise is actually coming from the bathtub or rather from the floor itself. Another cause of squeaky bathtubs is an issue with the flooring. If this is the case, it is very likely, that not the bathtub, but the floor around it, is structurally flawed.

This usually results from improper installation, which ranges from inadequate adhesive, not enough nails in the unit, or no floor expansion support. If this is the case, the tub is the least of your worries, as the ground under it is probably not terribly structurally sound.

Heat Expansion

Your bathroom is, more likely than not, a very steamy place (not that way). Take a look at the tiles you chose for the flooring. If they are dark, they absorb heat better than light-colored tiles do. This means that you may have noticed an increase in the number of times your tub squeaks as the humidity increases.

Cracked Bathtub

Sometimes, your bathtub may crack. These cracks are often caused by friction in the bottom or side of the tub. Once a crack starts, it can spread easily. Keep in mind that cracks don’t usually occur in high-quality tubs, but it is still possible.

How Do I Stop My Bathtub From Creaking?

First things first, you need to determine where the noise is coming from, whether it be your showerhead, the floor beneath the bathtub, or the tub itself. By first determining the root cause of the problem, it becomes easier to address and fix the issue while avoiding fixing anything that doesn’t need to be fixed.

Uneven Surface

Let’s take a look at how to fix the gap between the floor and the tub if it is on an uneven surface. The first fix is to add support underneath the bathtub. Make sure the support you are placing is a strong hardboard or something equivalent. The support you place underneath the bathtub must be even in order to fix the creaking. If it is uneven, it will only add to the problem.

Support can be added to any type of tub, such as iron, vinyl, and steel tubs. However, if you still face the same issue after adding support under the tub, more support may need to be added. Grab the handy dandy expansion foam filler from the drawer, or go out to the store and grab some if you do not have any on hand (we’re going, to be honest, we would be going to the store about now). After you have placed the support, use the foam filler to fill the gap between the bathtub and the support.

If the bathtub is fixed, you can apply more mortar to seal the gap. Make sure the mortar is dry when you apply it, as anything else is definitely more than you bargained for.

Faulty or Expanded Flooring

In the event the sound is not coming from the bathtub or the showerhead, but from the floor itself, you may be in deeper water (get it…cause we’re fixing a tub). Creaking sounds from the floor often point to improper floor support or installation. Correcting this problem requires the tub to be fully dismantled and the floor examined for weak spots. In other words, we’d recommend putting in a phone call to maintenance.

Cracked Bathtub

Now, how to go about fixing a cracked bathtub is going to depend on how severe the crack is and if it is easily accessible.

If the crack or fracture is visible and easily accessible, you can fix it by using bathtub repair paint. Follow the instructions on the back of the kit, and do not coat the material too heavily.

If the crack is not easily accessible, it’s probably time for a phone call to a professional. Sometimes the cracks or chips that may occur in the tub may cause a fragment but not be visible. In other words, it creaks, but you have no idea where in the tub it’s coming from. If there are excessive cracks or damage to the tub, not only is it going to drive you crazy with the creaking, but it may spiral into leakage, and trust us, that is the last thing you want.

Now, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could completely get rid of your bathtub and remodel your bathroom. We’d recommend checking for all known issues before jumping to this step, but hey, if you’re looking for a reason to remodel, we’ll be your sign. Inner artist in 3..2..1.

Can My Bathtub Fall Through The Floor?

If you are thinking heart-stopping, “elevator plummet to your demise” type fall, then the answer is no, your bathtub will not fall through the floor. However, incorrect installation of bathtubs, while they cause creaking, they usually do not possess the correct sealing either.

So, as time passes, the water can begin to seep under your bathtub and slowly rot the wood away. This wears the structure holding your bathtub in place and can eventually lead to your bathtub beginning to sink into the floor.

To avoid this, watch for any signs of water damage, and in the event your bathtub is not properly sealed, find the means to do so.