Weird Shower Drain Problem
We are remodeling a "mother in law" quarters behind our home. The shower will not drain until there is about 3 inches of water in the bottom, and then it rushes out and continues to drain normally.
Other clues: The previous owner had stuffed paper towels into the space above the overflow drain. I don't know why.
There is no roof vent for the shower/tub combo.
The toilets and sinks drain fine.
We have exposed the sewer pipe to the septic tank, and there appears to be a rise of an inch or so as soon as it leaves the house.
could be vent is blocked or non-existant
i know that toilets do this kind of delayed start to flush when they are insufficiently vented. It happened to me when I was remodeling and for several months i had disconnected ALL the vents in my space. Also, I looked in to this subject a lot before and after, since i had a very complex plumbing situation that conditioned my remodel. So I think i know that a lack of venting will cause very slow draining that eventually speeds up. Some people like for their toilet to do this, as it increases the suction once it finally gets going.
So, if i were there, and if i owned the house, and if your description is exactly as i would describe it, then that is my first hypothesis. I.e. that there is not enough venting. Furthermore, your last sentence sounds to me like you have a slight backwards slope on the big pipe; if so, this reduces the amount of air that can flow back through the pipe when waste water is flowing out, same impact as if the pipe were smaller in diameter. That also has the same effect as insufficient venting, and it aggravates the problem, and this helps explain why the shower pan builds up so much water first before finally you get a good head of pressure and inertia and the water starts to flow rapidly.
What happens when you open all windows? What happens when you close all windows, doors, dryer vents, kitchen vents, and other places where outside air can get in? I'll bet that the shower drain holds back even longer before draining, and the flow is a lot slower when it does start draining, since there is no source of make-up air to replace the volume that the water takes up.
These are my first thoughts. Others will have opposing views.:)