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Thread: Shower Drain Workaround

  1. #1
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    Default Shower Drain Workaround

    I will appreciate your comments on a workaround I am considering for waste water for a second floor shower. The tub I am replacing drained into one of those lead toilet flanges that will be history and there is no other available option for waste water just below the second floor.

    This creates a water drainage dilema requiring a dedicated drainage pipe to the basement. What I want to avoid is cutting into any studs [A] or having to raise the shower pan above the bathroom floor [B] to run the pipe horizontally above the floor to a suitable location for the vertical pipe. A or B would put me in a good position to tap into an existing waste pipe in the basement from the kitchen.

    One radical solution not requiring A or B would be to run the pipe along the stud [2x8” actual dimensions, instead of perpendicular in the A and B options above] to the opposite wall [12 feet] where I have a clear easy open shot to the basement inside an interior wall. However, in this scenario I would have to drain the pipe into the basement wash basin that the clothes washer drains into. There is no living space in the basement and I have no intention of adding any in the basement of a 100 year old house. The wash basin is hooked into the soil pipe tied into the city sewage system so no problem with the ultimate destination of the waste water.

    Although I don’t see the wash basin ever overflowing, if it did the basement floor is sloped toward a floor drain with trap that drains into the same soil pipe, so there is a back-up plan. The drain is about 30 feet away from the wash basin at the front of the house. Nothing is left on the floor.

    I wouldn’t have to worry about sewer gas, but would have a trap directly under the pan as usual and a second one at the drainage point above the wash basin to close the system. Even shower pipes can smell.

    Does this violate code? More important, what issues should I be concerned with as far as functionality? I could go 2 inch pipe all the way, but would like to convert to 1.5 inch at the vertical since this pipe would have no other fixtures draining into it.

    The only problem I see is proper drainage since there would be no sewer gas to worry about? There would be room to put one of those air admittance valves at the vertical, do I really need it? Are there other methods to improve drainage? If the trap below the pan does siphon, I wouldn’t be risking sewer gas.

    This workaround would make a fairly difficult project very easy and eliminate the A and B problems noted above.

    I know it’s not the ideal situation. I expect to be in the house another 20-30 years, that’s why I’m going with a shower versus a tub, so nobody else will have to live with my workaround in the near future. When I’m gone they can do another remodel is my point of view.

    Thank you in advance for your comments and suggestions.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    1) you have to be concerned with slope...a 12' run needs to drop 3".
    2) it is NEVER allowed to reduce the size of a pipe run.

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    Jimbo:

    In regard to the slope. The material I have read indicates that too much slope is bad because the liquid "outruns" the solids. In the case of a shower, there are no solids. I'm assuming the texts refers to toilet solids primarily. So, in this case would more slope than 1/4" be better?

    How about reducing the pipe to 1.5 at the drain, with a 1.5 trap? I know it's not code, but I read that the 2 inch shower requirement is based higer shower head flow rates along with the fact that showers do not have as much room to fill as tubs.. I use a water saver type head that doesn't put out that many GPM. The old tub drained ok and whoever did that remodel didn't even meet the 1/4" slope with 1.5" galvanized. If I used 1.5" PVC pipe instead of 2" I could increase the slope over the 12 feet. Can I assume that the slope is more important than the capacity of the pipe?

    I did read that it was not allowed to have a smaller vertical than the fixtures feeding it, but this system will be dedicated to the shower all the way to the basement and most other verticals have multiple fixtures.

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    1) you have to be concerned with slope...a 12' run needs to drop 3".
    2) it is NEVER allowed to reduce the size of a pipe run.
    Jimbo:

    The point I was trying to pose is that may have gotten lost above is that I could increase the slope with 1.5 versus the 2 inch. Is the benefit of the increased slope greater than the loss of capacity in the 2 inch.

    Also, the room is 12 feet. After allowing for the short distance if the drain from the wall to the end of the trap we are probably talking about 11 feet. The studs may be 10 inches not 8 giving me an additional 2 inches to drop. Old house, big lumber.

    Thanks again!

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    1. The idea that the fluids will outrun the solids is an old wives tale, or actually, a "new" wives tale. It has no basis in fact. One flush of a toilet will not carry solids all the way to the street, regardless. But the repeated use of the toilet for "1's" and "2's" as well as other uses on the line..are plenty of water. It is true that to some extent, cities are looking at the reduced flow in their mains, but it is not really size related.

    2. Whether something will "work" is not an appropriate subject for discussion. Your only concern needs to be whether an inspector will accept it, and the codes are quite clear about 2" for shower. One reason they are not inclined to give you a waiver, it the loophole in the code. You can have a shower with eight or more 2 gph heads, and you can set it up for all to run at once. It's not that YOU would do that, but SOMEONE might, some day.

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    I have seen a number of lead wiped closet bends, but all were connected to a cast iron drain pipe. If this is what you have, I would be using the existing drain pipe for the shower, even if you are eliminating the water closet.

    Having a shower drain into a sink will not pass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    1. The idea that the fluids will outrun the solids is an old wives tale, or actually, a "new" wives tale. It has no basis in fact. One flush of a toilet will not carry solids all the way to the street, regardless. But the repeated use of the toilet for "1's" and "2's" as well as other uses on the line..are plenty of water. It is true that to some extent, cities are looking at the reduced flow in their mains, but it is not really size related.

    2. Whether something will "work" is not an appropriate subject for discussion. Your only concern needs to be whether an inspector will accept it, and the codes are quite clear about 2" for shower. One reason they are not inclined to give you a waiver, it the loophole in the code. You can have a shower with eight or more 2 gph heads, and you can set it up for all to run at once. It's not that YOU would do that, but SOMEONE might, some day.
    Your comments in regard to code and the risks of modifications by subsequent owners are noted. That is why I am leaning toward elevating the shower and staying code compliant. I may win lotto and have the opportunity to move up!. The step up would be a pain, but it would still be lower than the elevation of the side of a bathtub.

    I normally wouldn’t even consider a workaround like this, but as I stated before I expect to be in this house for 20-30 years unless I have to go to the veteran’s home or win lotto and expect that the next person would probably want to remove the 20-30 year old 4x4’ shower and replace it with a tub or whirlpool. That would be the first time any code inspector would have an opportunity to view this project.

    Thanks again for your candid comments!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    I have seen a number of lead wiped closet bends, but all were connected to a cast iron drain pipe. If this is what you have, I would be using the existing drain pipe for the shower, even if you are eliminating the water closet.

    Having a shower drain into a sink will not pass.
    Not really an option. The lead toilet flange was fastened to a short 4 inch diameter metal pipe [not cast iron] inserted directly into the 4 inch vertical cast iron soil pipe stack bell. It is not perpendicular to the wall and is angled away from the end of the room where the shower will be, with the toilet positioned kitty corner to the shower. The short pipe is in excellent condition as well as the lead in the bell. I’m not going to mess with that, a short piece of 3 inch PVC tucked into the short metal pipe with a Ferno coupling and the new toilet is an easy fix. If I didn’t need a toilet on the second floor your suggestion would work, but the angle of the bell and the height of it relative to the 8 inch ceiling bay in the kitchen below make it an outrageously difficult option. Running a 2 inch PVC pipe down the corner of the kitchen behind the back porch door on its way to the basement would be easy. I can always box it in to hide it!

    Jimbo didn’t wish to comment on my question in regard to slope versus capacity issue. If I were to run an 11 foot pipe along that 8 inch high joist, would it be better to go with the 2 inch with the slight slope or the 1.5 with a slightly better slope. Anybody out there want to comment on this?

    In regard to: “Having a shower drain into a sink will not pass.” It won’t fail if nobody but me sees it. I see no risk with this unconventional option, it can cause no damage. I do have a concern with the shower draining smoothly. Besides, down the road I could re-plumb the wash basin and drain the shower directly into the same bell. It’s big enough to accept 2 inch PVC. Today my concern is getting the bathroom functional.

    So my dilemma is: Code that is probably over conservative for my intended application versus a white elephant elevated shower in what will be my retirement home. I don’t know, but 15-20 years from now stepping up into that shower may be a problem for me?? I hope not, But???

    Thanks,

  9. #9
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    One of the reasons that Terry's forum is rated so highly is because the majority of us take pride in doing work that meets or exceeds trade standards. You don't find much advice here that does not meet common building, plumbing, or electrical codes. Not only is it good, but we like it that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    One of the reasons that Terry's forum is rated so highly is because the majority of us take pride in doing work that meets or exceeds trade standards. You don't find much advice here that does not meet common building, plumbing, or electrical codes. Not only is it good, but we like it that way.

    I have to respect your point of view! Normally, that's the way I like it myself. This 1905 or so house wasn't plumbed to 2013 code and that makes it rather difficult to update to code without major changes. I’m sure the 1905 bathroom had a cast iron tub with legs, much less demanding on the waste side.

    The electrical compared to the plumbing was easy, just remove the last of the knob and tube and replace it with Romex. Wire is much more forgiving!



    .

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    I mentioned that sometimes, you " do what you gotta do". Draining the shower through a 1 1/2 pipe...right from the shower, never reduced, would be the option I would chose over elevating the shower. That ALWAYS screams of DIY and would affect the value of the remodel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    I mentioned that sometimes, you " do what you gotta do". Draining the shower through a 1 1/2 pipe...right from the shower, never reduced, would be the option I would chose over elevating the shower. That ALWAYS screams of DIY and would affect the value of the remodel.
    Thanks for that tip!

    The elevated shower idea is funky, but a lesser evil than punching 2+ inch holes in 3 joists. I’m determined to not put any holes in structural members for anything but electrical wire.

    I recognize that replacing the only tub in the house with a shower negatively impacts the resale value, but I’m touching the house up to fit my needs, not to sell it.

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    Neither my wife or I has EVER taken a bath in this house...22 years! Wish I had changed the tub out to a shower years ago. Not well enough to tackle it right now!

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