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Thread: Converting tub/shower to just a shower

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member
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    Default Converting tub/shower to just a shower

    I have a large soaker tub from the 70's with wide sides and a deep tub. I need to convert this to a standard shower for handicap access (the current tub presents a safety concern with getting in and out of it). The house foundation is concrete slab and I have already located a supplier for a shower pan that can use the existing drain location for the new shower. What is the simplest way of dealing with connection/drain issues? Can I leave the existing tub drain/vent in place and work with what is there? I am a single woman on a limited income and want to do the work myself if at all possible.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Your first problem is the probable size of the drain...a tub is generally plumbed with 1.5" line, and a shower requires a 2" drain. Now, since it is in the slab, and some locales have a minimum size required for below slab, it may transition to 2". But, you'd have to crack some concrete. once you've done that, you could put the drain anywhere you want and not be limited to a specific shower pan. Depending on the labor rates, and the cost of the pan, it may be about even to have a tiled shower base installed, then that could be any size or shape you wish with the drain where you prefer it.

    The reason a shower is required to have a larger drain than a tub is a tub has a lot more capacity to hold water if for some reason the drain gets blocked before overflowing - plus, the tub has an overflow drain connection that a shower doesn't. Drop the wash cloth, cover the drain, and if not careful, it could be running over the curb. Not likely to happen in a tub.

    A good resource for tiling help is www.johnbridge.com. Even if it is just to understand if your contractor is building it right, it's a good resource for knowledge and understanding.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    You will definitely have to go with the 2" drain since this will not have a raised curb to create a holding reservoir like a regular shower. The few that I have seen have just a gentle slope into the actual shower area. That's enough as long as the drain stays open, but a clogged drain could be a serious problem!

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    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Home Girl View Post
    ... standard shower for handicap access ... What is the simplest way of dealing with connection/drain issues? Can I leave the existing tub drain/vent in place and work with what is there? ...
    You can use the existing drain. You can keep it the same size. You do not need to increase the size of the drain. To be good, tell the next buyer of the house tht the drain is only 1.5" diameter. It's not a big deal.

    Having said that, I or others may still need to respond to future posts from people who would have you replace the entire drain pipe under the concrete slab. Stay tuned for more learning.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Your building inspector might give you a variance on the size of the drain, but, at least in the USA, the code says it must be 2". Yes, it is likely to work, but you'd need an adapter for the pan, since 99% of the shower drains are 2" to comply with the code. It's never a good idea to neck down a drain, so you'd have to try to find a 1.5" drain, which won't be easy - plus, nearly all pans are made to fit a 2" one.

    So, good luck...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default shower

    IF you get one of the "retro" shower bases with the drain at the end, which were made to utilize the existing tub drain location, it may be set up for a 1 1/2" pipe. If not, then you will not know what size drain you have until you break out the concrete.I can appreciate you wanting to do it yourself, but a bad shower drain installation will NEVER go away.

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    Journeyman/Inspector Inspektor Ludwig's Avatar
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    I agree with the other posts that say
    you need to have to 2" tailpiece, trap and trap arm. I believe CA. uses the UPC for plumbing code and it clearly states that you need to increase to 2". The tub should have 1 1/2 all the way to the vent, which should be right next to the existing location of the tub drain. When you remove the tub, there should (hopefully)be a boxed out portion of the slab where concrete was not poured. This made installing the tub and tub drain easier. Follow the tub drain to the wall. At that point there should be vertical pipe going up (vent) and one going down (drain). If that drain pipe going down is 2" then that makes it easier to change the trap, if it's 1 1/2, then you would need to follow that drain pipe down until you find where it goes horizontal. At that point it should turn to 2". It may seem like a lot of work but there's a reason why you need a 2" drain for shower. The amount of water is not a "set" amount like filling a bathtub. Your shower pan can easily overflow if you have hair in the drain or a bar of soap blocking the drain etc. Do it right the first time then you don't have to worry about it later!

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default drain

    quote; if it's 1 1/2, then you would need to follow that drain pipe down until you find where it goes horizontal. At that point it should turn to 2".

    If the drain is 1 1/2" to the tee, and usually even to the trap, then the ENTIRE line from the connection at the main line will be 1 1/2". Changing that connection to 2" will usually be well beyond the abilities of a DIY'er.

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    DIY Junior Member daren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; Changing that connection to 2" will usually be well beyond the abilities of a DIY'er.
    I plan on doing this soon and I haven't fully research this yet but wouldn't be cutting out old connection and attahing new with a "Fenco?" fitting?

    DRB

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