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MAAX jetted tub faucet leaking inside - no access

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furch

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Hi all, I'm new to the forum and came on here because I've been pulling my hair out all day trying to fix our new jetted tub so my wife can take a bath.

It's a MAAX 54" corner tub, not sure the model as it came with our mobile home and I didn't get the specifics for it.

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When the hot water is turned on, there is a leak from under the hot water faucet, inside the one-piece tub where I can't access it. See pic attached. Sorry for the crude drawn image.
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The water leaks out from under the tub after a minute or so. I've disassembled the faucet and it looks like there is some pipe joint compound about 3-4 inches below the bottom of the cartridge.
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The cold water faucet doesn't have this, and doesn't leak.
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I've tried to remove the snap ring on the faucet and pull up the hot water line but it is attached to a bigger fitting just below the top of the tub, so it doesn't come up.

I've tried to access it from below the mobile home, but without cutting the floor there is no way to do it. Even if I did cut the floor, I would be reaching up over 3 feet into about a 4" wide opening so I doubt I could repair it from there.
unnamed.jpg

Due to not being able to access it I can't see what the actual problem is . I was just about to cut a hole in the side of the damned tub when I figured I would ask someone who may actually know what they're doing.

Thanks for reading this, and ANY ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Furch
 

breplum

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You have done a great job describing the issue and showing pictures.
Unfortunately, it is a leak at connection that is not accessable.
It should not have leaked, but now, it is just a matter of drama and destruction that will get this resolved.
It will not be pretty.
Very sorry for your situation, it sucks. I've been told that it is Mercury in Retrograde. That keeps us plumbers rolling in the big bucks.
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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Hello @furch,

What you most likely have is the jetted version of the MAAX VO5050 corner tub.


Before you start anything, I'd go to the website, download all the technical data, installations diagrams, rough in, etc. and study them a bit...and then call (call center is in Canada) their technical support for advice.

What you might end up doing, and I realize this doesn't sound pleasant, is removing the tub for repair, repairing it (with, perhaps an eye towards the future) and reinstalling it. We all know that faucets leak, they wear out, and they need to be replaced now and then as sure as the sun comes up. If the installation of this at your home is such that repair is impossible, you might consider replacing it with a model that CAN be easily accessed and repaired as needed. But, please--talk to MAAX first.
 
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Jeff Handy

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Can you cut an access in that tiled wall behind the tub, from the back side?

Might still be too far away, and too skinny to work in.
 

furch

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Thanks guys. I was hoping there was an easy solution but probably not. I will try calling MAAX support tomorrow but I'm sure they will recommend pulling the tub and re-installing. Money is a bit of an issue right now so I'm trying my best to fix it myself, and really don't want to resort to re/re the tub.

Can you cut an access in that tiled wall behind the tub, from the back side?

Might still be too far away, and too skinny to work in.
Sorry I forgot to mention but the tub is against two exterior walls. There is an access port in the corner of the house to access the electrical and pump but there is no way at all to get at the faucets from there. I could technically cut another access port to get to the faucets but again might be shooting myself in the foot because it's an exterior wall and I'm not a professional.

On the plus side... I did figure out a way for my wife to have a bath last night, so not all is lost.
IMG_1079.jpg


I have found on a couple of other forums guys with the same or similar issues who have said they were going to cut an access hatch in the side of the tub. I am seriously considering this. What worries me is that in none of the posts did the original poster mention the results of cutting a hole in the tub. Have any of you done this successfully? Here's what I mean:
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It would still be a tight fit to get in there and fix it (note side of tub is about 5-6" from closet wall to the right), but I think it might be possible. Let me know your thoughts please.

Thanks again guys, will update after I talk to MAAX tomorrow.
 

SHEPLMBR

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I doubt that faucet is Maax. I believe they only make the tubs?
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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@SHEPLMBR is correct, MAAX doesn't supply the faucets, just the tub...and only to Western Canada.

There's a lot of information on the factory website and they have pretty good tech support. That should have been your first call, and by now you should have called them before coming here again.

The challenge you have with cutting an access panel is two-fold: first, right by the faucet deck, the outside of the tub is curved. This will make the eventual repair look really amateur, unless you are a whiz with fiberglass and acrylic work. Second, depending on how big your access panel is, you may compromise the structural integrity of the tub.

Talk to their tech people, and see how they recommend installation while allowing service to the faucet.
 

furch

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So I had a chance to talk to MAAX tech support today, and they were rude and dismissive. The guy didn't even let me finish describing my problem before interrupting me and telling me to call a plumber as they don't make the faucets. I said I know that, but I'm trying to find a way to access the underside of the faucet, and he said that it's no fault with the tub and he can't help me. I asked if cutting a small access hole would violate the structural integrity of the tub, and he said, "I don't know, but I wouldn't do it. Just call a plumber." Gee, thanks!

I understand that cutting an access panel isn't the ideal solution and the resulting ascetics probably wouldn't look professional, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Function over form. As things stand now I can't even use the tub without hooking up a hose to my vanity. The plus side is that the panel will end up in a hard to see spot anyways so even if it's ugly at least it won't be front and centre.

Going to try to find some time this weekend to get to it. Will update next week! Thanks for trying to help, guys!
 

Jeff Handy

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You might want to cut a big access hole in that closet wall facing the faucet.
So you are not working in that skinny, confined area, after you open up the tub wall, if you do that
 

Nehmo

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I've tried to remove the snap ring on the faucet and pull up the hot water line but it is attached to a bigger fitting just below the top of the tub, so it doesn't come up.
...
Going to try to find some time this weekend to get to it. Will update next week! Thanks for trying to help, guys!
Another place to make a hole is around the faucet. When you put it back together, you could use some kind of round escutcheon that will cover the cut circle.
 

furch

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Okay guys, I fixed it. I'll explain what I did in case there is another guy out there one day with the same problem. Keep in mind, I am NOT a professional plumber so I imagine some of the people on this forum would do things very differently. That's OK with me.

First, as Jeff Handy suggested, I cut a big access hole through the closet beside the tub, so I could actually work on it:
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Decided to make a 8x8 hole mainly because I picked up a spring-loaded access panel that was that size on the weekend. Figured this would give me enough room to work while not being so big as to compromise the structural integrity of the tub. Just guessing here as I couldn't find any info regarding how big a hole is appropriate.

First I drilled the corners with a 1/2" bit then noticed right away there was braided steel hose inside, right against the outside of the tub. Instead of cutting with a sawzall as I planned, I cut a hacksaw blade in half and put it into a file handle so I could cut by hand. Cutting this hole was painstakingly slow this way but I could be careful cutting around the braided hoses and pex lines inside as I could feel when I bumped into them with the hacksaw blade. Here's the finished hole:
IMG-1091.JPG

Now that I could see inside I slowly turned on the hot water faucet to see where the leak is. This is what I saw (sorry have to post a link from Dropbox as I can't insert videos here):


For anyone who can't see the video, the leak was coming from the nut connecting the steel braided hose to the hot water faucet. I thought I would loosen it off to check the washer and maybe put some teflon tape on it, but when I touched the nut it all but fell off by itself. It wasn't even hand-tight. I tightened it by hand then gave it another half turn with a crescent wrench, tried to hot water again, and guess what, NO LEAK.

So in the end it was a tiny problem easily fixable IF I HAD ACCESS to it. Not sure if the installer just didn't tighten it or if it somehow came loose during transportation. But anyways it is fixed now.

I put the access panel I bought in the hole but it looks pretty amateur due to the curvature of the tub. Planning on custom making a metal one to fit properly once I have some time. But for now, the wife is happy and so am I.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and advice, I really appreciate it.
 

breplum

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Nice job! Thanks for following up.
This is WHY it is not legal/to code to have mechanical nut joints without permanent access!
 

Jeff Handy

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You might want to think about a way to add some strength to that weakened area of the tub.

Maybe some 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch plywood strips epoxied to the outer wall, acting like studs to transfer load from around the faucet and the new cutout, to the subfloor.
 
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