basement shower drain

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by DanAK, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. DanAK

    DanAK New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Alaska
    I’m replacing a leaking fiberglass shower with a custom tiled one in my basement. The old one is all ripped out and I am down to concrete floor with a 2†copper drain pipe extending up about 1 ¼â€.) I can’t seem to find a suitable drain. They all seem to be too big. They seem designed to fit larger (and PVC, not copper) drain pipe, and also seem to be at least 4†high.

    If I use some kind of adapter to change from copper to PVC I’ll be making the drain even higher.

    It seems a drain sort of like used for bathtubs, that slips down inside with a sealing collar would be great. But I haven’t seen anything like that suitable for a tiled shower, with weepholes.

    Is there some solution short of chopping out the embedding concrete floor?
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    No, there is not, unless you want to end up with a ridiculously high shower floor. Showers require special drains, and there is a bit involved in figuring where to
    place them, along with all the other details of shower construction.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2011
  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Replacement Drain Options for your next Basement Shower

    Post(s) removed by John Whipple
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    You need a drain with a rubber seal for the pipe, but THEN you need to order the rubber seal that fits 2" copper pipe. ALL the proper drains wil be about 2"-3" above the concrete so you can install the PROPER membrane and mortar/concrete sub base under the tile.
  5. DanAK

    DanAK New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Alaska
    Thanks for the replies.

    What I’m hearing is I’m going to have to break out some concrete around my drain pipe, even for drains like the Proline or ACO (which I hadn’t considered but do look great). Like many projects this started as “just†a little leak and keeps growing in size and scope at each new revelation. I’d hoped to avoid breaking out the concrete to not only avoid that extra work and potential for a new round of issues, but also the risk of damaging the embedded copper drain. But of course I want to do it right – I sure don’t want to have to revisit it or leave a mess for someone else down the road. This is what I've got, 2" copper coming up about 1 1/4 inches IMG_5557.JPG

    All I’ve found available around here are a plastic 3 piece like this: drain1.jpg or a metal one, slightly bigger like: drain2.jpg

    I now see a few more styles online, but still nothing like I was hoping – sort of something like the Davke 4000 but designed with weepholes for a membrane/tile installation. And would have a minimal height so I could keep the final level of the shower floor to something reasonable. But since that doesn’t seem to exist I guess I need to chop out some of the concrete to make room for an adapter and drain.

    Along that line, will a masonry blade on my circular saw, masonry chisel and hand sledge get it done? Any trick on protecting the copper pipe? Or will that not matter anyway?

    As far as waterproofing the pan, I was planning on using a rubber (neoprene?) membrane available at Home Depot with a 3 piece drain, since that’s pretty much all I’ve seen available around here. They have red guard too, but I was thinking that’d be a little riskier in making it all good and water proof. The Kerdi stuff is pretty convincing in its waterproofing and quality and ease though. I think I’d have to order it if I was going that way. I hadn’t been aware of most of the other stuff mentioned, like Nobel and Wedi, etc.

    Thanks for your help.
  6. A liquid trowel on membrane like Redgard (and others) can be good for you. Read the Redgard site. You don't need to go down and open up space for weepholes when you use Redgard (and others like it.).
  7. John Whipple is right in this case, and HJ is wrong in this case.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    Sometimes, you really need to tear up the concrete. It's hard to say, but the copper line (and trap?) could be corroded. The only way to find out is to tear some concrete up. You'll need to make your connection below where you currently have access in order to keep the pan height reasonable, and, in the process, you'll be able to see the condition of the piping buried there.

    There are numerous ways to build a shower that work well; the method you mention with a pre-slope, liner, setting bed is a decent, traditional method. I prefer a surface membrane rather than a liner embedded below a bunch of cementitious bulk. While RedGard is capable of making your waterproof layer, I prefer some other materials. All of the tested, proven shower construction methods are described in the TCNA handbook (Tile Council of North America). If you follow any one of them, you'll have a quality, good performing, long-lasting shower.

    John has some ongoing disagreements with the pros over at www.johnbridge.com. 'Shop' both sites and if you're fair, I think you'll find them quite helpful.
  9. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Location:
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    2" Copper basement Drain - checking depth levels

    Post(s) removed by John Whipple
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  10. DanAK

    DanAK New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Alaska
    "water level" meaning ground water? That's not a problem. It's a split level house, this floor is about 4' below grade and water table is much below that. No issues with ground water.

    On other thoughts, I'm pretty confident the drain itself is OK. Water is visible in the trap and when there was a shower it didn't have any troubles there. It had good drainage, no backing up. The leak was almost certainly from the original drain to fiberglass pan connection and to drain itself. It actually wasn't connected! It had an open bottom metal cup resting on the concrete (just with the weight of the shower surround)with the drain pipe coming up in the middle.The cup had a trim ring attaching it to the shower pan, but it was loose and of course no way to reach the nut underneath, which was horribly corroded anyway. I'm not sure if it was caulked at the cup to concrete/drain interface with something like oakem or just 40 years of hair and gunk. Water would have to fill the cup the 1 1/4" before spilling down the drain. I assume the cup is part of some original old drain that someone either removed the rest of somewhere along the line or possible even originally DIY installation and couldn't get to fit, as it was also off center to the drain pipe. It didn't get much use by us until fairly recently. Amazingly it didn't apparently leak much - tablespoons per shower. And due to some 'creative' framing and layout it had a ways to go before finally appearing in the next room as a wet baseboard and carpet. By the time I started ripping it open of course there was plenty of rot.

    Thanks again for your replies.
  11. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
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    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Hooking up a basement drain - replacing a leaking fiberglass pan

    Post(s) removed by John Whipple
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    How to lower a Basement Shower Drain - 2" or 1 1/2" Copper

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  13. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Location:
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    Connecting to a 2" Copper Basement Shower Drain

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    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; John Whipple is right in this case, and HJ is wrong in this case

    I am not sure WHAT you were reading, but that is EXACTLY the same thing I said. The flange is level with the concrete, the membrane fastens to it, and the drain sticks up about 3" to give the proper subbase above the membrane.
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    The nominal thickness of the setting bed above the liner is around 1.5", then add the thickness of the tile and the anchoring thinset. Underneath the liner, as mentioned, about 3/4" over a slab is good, although on a slab (but not on a wooden subfloor), you can get by with less. If you use a surface membrane (like Kerdi) and their special drain, the drain would end up about that minimum of 3/4" above the slab, though, and provide the lowest floor (at least verses a traditional liner shower) as a surface membrane does not use a drain with weepholes since the membrane makes it the waterproof layer.
  16. DanAK

    DanAK New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Alaska
    Thanks - your pictures and suggestions were pretty much what I'd been thinking.

    I've got about 7 1/2 - 8" to the water in the trap. So it would seem I've enough room to fit in the adapter and keep the new drain low enough. Another question with this - should I refill that broken out area with something like pea gravel?

    I hadn't given much consideration to drain types up till now. I just wanted one that would 'work' and not be too much trouble installing. Seems I'd have to order anything other than what I showed above. I'm not sure of their manufacturer, the local go-to plumbing supply as well as Home Depot seemed to only have those in stock. I'm open to suggestions. This shower is in an extra bath and I want it nice but nothing showroom/Fine Homebuilding type. Your work looks gorgeous. I'm planning fairly basic tho with a small seat and a nook above which I think is within my skills. I'm putting in a mid range basic shower head and controller, of course the old one wasn't anti-scald anyway and I'll redo a bit of the old inlet water lines which were rather creatively placed. I've got the time and try to not rush, ask plenty of questions and think things thru and try to keep costs down that way.
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    While you can do a monument bench and waterproof that and a niche with various materials, I really do suggest you look into surface membranes. Waterproofing a seat can be tricky if you haven't done it before. Also, you might consider something like a BetterBench, either a corner or side. These are pretty bulletproof, easy to install, and make the shower feel bigger since you can face it and still have someplace for your feet to go. http://innoviscorp.com/better-bench
  18. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,787
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Drain options for basement showers - guest bath

    Post(s) removed by John Whipple
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  19. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Post(s) removed by John Whipple
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  20. DanAK

    DanAK New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Alaska
    Wow, thanks for the attention and advice.

    I don’t have firm plans yet. This grew from tracking down a leak on the other side of the wall, which has plumbing for laundry, outside faucet as well as a bath above. I expect the downstairs was left unfinished by the original builders and done DIY at a later date. They had a fiberglass shower surround basically unattached to the house drain with some odd framing to support it as it was somewhat smaller than the space available. Before firming up the new shower plans I wanted to make sure of what is available and what I’ll need to deal with so I don’t overreach or plan something undoable. At some point we did intend to redo this bath, just not this soon. So I’d like to have something that will work with future renovation of the rest of the bath too. The toilet is kind of awkwardly situated. It looks worse in the sketch than reality but does seem to preclude a door rather than curtain without making some bigger changes. Shower.jpg

    The drain is off center by a couple inches which I figured would cause grief with a prebuilt pan, and it seems a tiled shower as big as possible in the space would be nicer which is what led to me to figure on making a mud/tile pan.

    The more I look at idea books and remodel websites like Houzz and many others, the easier it is to start thinking a bit grandiose. I’d like nice, but also not too spendy and not too complicated as I am intending to do as much as I can myself. I put in a jetted tub and shower last year where previous owners had taken a regular tub/shower out to make a laundry area (which I put back downstairs). That went well. The tiling wasn’t too fancy, some design accents and a premade shelf and that was kind of fun. I’ve done various PVC as well as copper sweating then and for home plumbing repair over the years, and feel pretty comfortable with that. I’m sure no pro in any of this – not up on the latest (or even most of the old ways) but try and take the time to learn and avoid mistakes.

    So my general idea for this shower is still pretty flexible and definitely open to suggestion and advice. I was planning a basic mud pan – like is shown on various how-to sites and books: preslope, rubber liner, final mortar with a 3 piece drain and tile. I can certainly see the advantage to using a material like Kerdi or Nobel and am considering that once I look a bit more at price and availability/shipping. Along with the mud pan I figured on using concrete board/wonder board with plastic behind for the walls. The space above the ledge from the foundation blocks just seemed a natural spot to have space for a decent sized nook. I’m aware as an outside wall it’ll be colder, but the same wall in the bathroom doesn’t have issues with that and it’ll allow for a slightly deeper nook. I expected to build that along the lines of several how-to’s, size somewhat depending on what we choose for the tile. I was wondering if fiberglassing the 2x4 and plywood box might make for better waterproofing, but I’m not sure how tile would do with that. On the same wall I was thinking of a narrowish (10â€) bench, built in with the pan ending at it’s base. I understand too what jadnashua is saying and haven’t ruled out using a premade bench and/or nook insert too.

    I was thinking of marble or granite tile for the bench seat and nook bottom as well as perhaps the top of the entry curb. It’d be contrast/accent to the rest of the tiling and would have fewer seams than the 6†tile I was considering for the rest.

    I hadn’t even thought of other than the basic drains, but I do like the looks of some of these others, especially that tiled one. That seems very doable. I like the looks of that Noble flashing/divot drain. I have to look at that a bit more.

    Again, wow – thanks for all the help.
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