Basement shower - no headroom!

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by whoatemyham, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    My contractor is stumped, and I need some advice please.

    I bought an "upflush" toilet for the basement (www.saniflo.com - the saniPRO unit), which uses a maceator and a pump to pump waste up to a standard drain line (in my case the kitchen sink line that runs across my basement wall). It sits on the basement floor. No digging required. It has inputs on each side to connect a shower and sink, and it'll pump that water up, too.

    Ceiling is 7 foot in the basement. Code says shower must be 6'8" to be legal. I can't fit a standard ptrap in 4".

    The maker of the pump says I need 1/4 inch of rise per foot - and it only has to travel about 4 feet. It's the darn Ptrap that is causing all the problems.

    The maker of the pump said I cannot break up concrete to make the p-trap fit (don't know why, they clearly said NO). I also cannot dig up concrete to sink the pump. Breaking concrete is not an option.

    Question 1: Can I not use a ptrap? (The pump is between the shower drain and the sewer line - think the pump might be enough to block the gases from coming up the shower drain?)

    Question 2: Are there any alternatives to a p-trap? Are there low profile p-traps or valves that will fit in the line and stop the gases? What about the ProSet "Trap Guard"? Think I could make something like that work? (http://www.trapguard.com/index.htm)

    Question 3: Any idea how I can make this work in 4 inches without breaking the floor?

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Any input you have is greatly appreciated!!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    As I see it, you won't be able to make a code approved shower unless you break some concrete. the only good reason I see for that is if the slab is post-tensioned. If you know where the cables are, you might, but check with an engineer first...you definately don't want to cut a post-tension cable in your slab, or you compromise its integrity. Rebar, on the other hand, isn't that big a deal, but it makes cutting harder. Otherwise, you can cut the concrete and put in a system. Maybe one of the pros will have some alternatives, but with the height of the required shower pan and a p-trap, I don't see any other way to do this. If you did do this, you could replace the toilet with a 'normal' one and install a sewage pump below the slab.
  3. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    No, the pump would not block odors/gasses from coming back out of the holding tank in which it is mounted.

    I would not trust "Trap Guard" to allow the shower to drain completely ... and I am not sure whether I would trust a diagonal-flapper check valve in the line to always close completely.
  4. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Just an FYI, in case I didn't make it clear -- there is no "holding tank" on this toilet. It is a maciating upflush toilet. Someone does their business and flushes, and it is immediately ground up and pumped up and out. But yeah, I realize some debris will probably remain and you're right, could cause a stink.

    So I guess there is no way around it - I need a ptrap.

    so the real question becomes - how do I make a 1.5 inch ptrap fit in 4 inches??? (We are using 1.5 inch rather an 2 inch because that is what the input on the pump requires.)

    "diagonal-flapper check valve" -- this is the first I am hearing of this. I will check into it, just in case. Thank you!
  5. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    The pump unit has an "internal check valve" -- this is from the instructions:

    SANITARY INLETS
    The macerating unit is equipped with two additional 1 1/2" inlets,
    one on either side of the case. These inlets, which incorporate
    an internal check valve, are used to connect the drainpipe of
    other sanitary fixtures to the macerating unit.
    Note: In case one of the inlets is not used by a fixture, you will
    need to block off this inlet with the plugs provided.

    SHOWER STALL
    When installing a shower a special raised shower base
    may be purchased, This eliminates the building of a
    platform. Alternatively, you may want to purchase a
    regular shower and also build a platform for it.We
    recommend to build a platform out of 2 x 8-inch lumber.
    Note: Platform height. The actual distance between the
    p-trap of the additional fixture and the macerating unit
    determines the necessary clearance to install the p-trap
    and elevation required to ensure a minimum gravity
    flow of 1/4-inch per foot.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    Another problem you might run into is that code requires a 2" drain. Your inspector may disallow the use of 1.5", and your selection of a 1.5" drain for a shower may be small.

    You would be better off putting in a tank and sewage ejector pump, then your shower, toilet, sink, could all be "normal".
  7. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! MUCH appreciated!!!!!

    Unfortunately, it's far too late for that solution. Contractor has gotten a lot of work done already. Everything is moving along smoothly except for the darn height of the shower.

    There wont be an inspector on this job. :eek:

    I selected this toilet/pump system because it was about $2,000 cheaper than the "traditional" route, and much faster. I'm renting this space to someone in a few weeks.

    I realize I may have made some bad choices, but it's far too late for that now. It's just salt in the wound, unfortunately. I have to move forward and figure out how to get my shower to work! :)
  8. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    The installation instructions said

    "Furthermore, when installing a shower stall or bathtub, you will need to build a platform out of 2†x 6†lumber (on edge) to allow space for a P-trap."

    I'd raise the platform to where it needs to be for the trap and then just deal with the lower ceiling height. it's probably better to insure the shower operates properly. I have a shower ceiling heigth of 6' 5" and I'm happy with it.
  9. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Be sure to tell him or her nothing can be flushed until after it has been eaten!
  10. solution and detailed description.

    Put your P trap in a hollow you dig into the concrete floor. Don't dig a big hole for the tank thing which you call "a macerator and a pump".

    Put the P trap at the height it needs to be at so that its tailpiece is at the right height. The tailpiece is the pipe sticking out sideways (horizontally) going over to the side entrance of the tank ("macerator+pump"). The tailpiece needs to be one inch higher O.C. than its entrance to the tank since it is 4 ft away. A half inch is the minimum which will work. Then, get this: the P trap itself is partially above and partially below the O.C. measurement point of its tailpiece. That may be obvious to everyone, or it may be overlooked, or maybe I haven't caught something after first reading and so it could be my mistake... So, I repeat :: measure where the inlet holes are on the holding tank of the macerator+pump device, measure that height above the concrete floor, then add 0.75" plus or minus an eighth, then with a real live copper P trap (1.5" in diameter), see how much space you need to push down a little hollow spot into the concrete to get your Ptrap bottom at the height needed so that your Ptrap's tailpiece is aligned perfectly, and then calculate what height you need to have the drain cover at for the Ptrap to fit under a shower floor. Some copper Ptraps are smaller than others, see the Watts catalog and others. LA style and NY style Ptraps come to mind. Copper pipes / Ptraps take less space than plastic ones.

    As for code, keep in mind that when Codes were changed to require 2" diameter pipes, that was to allow for all those big new houses that had drains at the other side of the house... A 1.5" diameter pipe drains a lot of water! When distances are long and the slope is (e.g.) 1/4" per foot, the pipe has drainage limitations because of the slope, and the air in the pipe, and not because the shower is putting out too much water! As long as distance-versus-slope-versus-air-versus-venting is OK, it works perfectly. Four feet is a real short distance so you don't need to sweat about that diameter. Imagine a race between two parallel drain lines, one being 2" and one 1.5", over a long distance... well, there it is easy to see that the 2" pipe wins at draining showers better and with less stress on the venting system too. Btw, how much venting does your pump-macerator-tank require? This is important to the inspector or anyone.

    David
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,059
    Location:
    New England
    One thing many people forget...if you do 'major' work like this, and you eventually do need an inspection for anything, this will be flagged, you will pay a fine, might have to tear it out, and redo it properly. This can bite you when it comes time to sell and the buyer has an inspection. So, shortcuts here may end up costing more in the end. If you plan on dying in the house, it may not be as much of an issue.

    If you have a neighbor that has a grudge, he could just as well call the inspector who might just drop by. Depending on where you live, the fines can be substantial. While he is there, he will be looking for anything else done without a permit as well.
  12. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Thanks everyone, for all of the helpful and knowledgeable advice! This is a GREAT forum!! :)

    I'm sorry if I'm using the wrong terminology - I'm just a novice do-it-yourselfer who hired a BAD contractor. (who came highly recommended from two friends who flip houses.) Someone had said "holding tank" which made me think of the composting toilets that actually do "hold" the waste, which seemed like the wrong term to me as this unit does not hold it at all, it pumps it out immediately. Anyway, I think you get the idea regardless of my poor choice of words. ;)

    For whomever has the 6'5" shower, I guess things differ from one area to another. Here, building code says a shower must be at least 6'8". (Plus, I have a lot of very tall people in my life, so anything shorter than that really would be unpleasant for them -- and, we have future homeowners to think about. I'd like to recoup these costs when I sell!)

    When I got home last night, I discovered another stupid thing that the contractor had done. He told me the ceilings were 7 foot. That looked about right to me, so why would I question what he told me? Well last night, I got out the tape measure to make sure. What do you know? They are 7'4"!!!! That gives us EIGHT inches to play with instead of the 4 that we thought we had. The contractor felt like an idiot (again) and we started to discuss options.

    We can fit a p-trap in 8 inches, so I think we're golden. (I can't believe we wasted all this time freaking out over this because I never pulled out a tape measure and measured the ceiling height --- what's worse, I can't believe the contractor never did this!)

    So it looks like we can do it all on the up and up (perhaps with the exception of the 1.5" pipe - but that is what the input on the pump is, so I'm not sure how you'd get around that other than hoping they assumed it was put in before the codes changed...haha!)

    As for an inspector - Someday, I might be DOOMED. When I bought the house, I had a highly recommended pre-sale home inspector come in before I signed. He found a few things, but nothing major. Some outlets wired backwards, no smoke detectors, blah blah blah. He found a few things that were legal in the 1960's when the house was built, but were not up to code now -- but said that wasn't a problem. I had the seller pay to have the wiring fixed.

    Now, three years later, I've had various repair people in the house for this or that. Everyone who comes in sees something and says "hum, that's odd." The previous homeowner was a serious do-it-yourselfer and I guarantee there have been no permits for anything done in this house including the building of the deck, and a lot of remodeling and moving of walls around on the main level. Heck - there probably wasn't a permit when he finished the basement. :eek:

    So what does one do in that situation -- Bring in a code inspector for this job and let him discover all of the other problems? Or hope that whoever I sell to uses as useless a home inspector as I did who doesn't say a darn thing about it...? I am sure no matter which option I selected, I will regret it. But I opted to just move forward, sans permit and inspector, and deal with whatever may come down the road. To my credit -- most of the plumbing for this new bathroom was already roughed in when I bought the house by the previous homeowner. ...would I have to pay fines for the things that HE did without permits? Let's hope not. But that doesn't mean they wont make me fix it.

    I guess if THAT day comes, I don't move. haha
  13. do not put a 2" p trap and then reduce in size later at any point between the p trap and the inlet hole.

    since the inlet hole is 1.5", you must use that size all the way up to the drain cover, and that includes the p trap obviously. If you get a shower drain with a 2" opening, reduce immediately, (with an official fitting, a reducer), before the p trap.

    as to the options you discussed with the contractor, i wonder how you worded those options that involved his future. His involvement in this project and other longer term future subjects.

    david
  14. Mr_Pike

    Mr_Pike New Member

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I was thinking the same thing. A 2" x 1.5" bushing is about 2 dollars. Add a nipple and or a threaded cap with a 1.5" threaded opening. Who cares what the opening on the pump is... You can easily adapt to whatever.

    That being said, It will likely be covered by a wall or shower riser, and if it is not being inspected (note I do not endorse this option) who is going to know?
  15. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    So, what is the plan for venting this system?
  16. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    You all are great! THANK YOU!

    He is running all 1.5 lines -- he's got an adaptor right out of the bottom of the shower into the ptrap that immediately takes it to 1.5 (the ptrap is 1.5). As someone pointed out, it's only going less than 4' so I'm not worried about that.

    They are venting it per the instructions of the saniflow pump, and connecting it to the stack. (page two of this link is the diagram they are using: http://www.saniflo.com/downloads/installation/Saniplus,Sanibest_TechDataEFR_March07.pdf ) They are running a line across the basement ceiling (through a closet and the laundry room about 15 feet total) to the stack that is connected to the back of the toilet in one of the baths upstairs. They are removing a clean out plug and connecting it there. He said "an inspector would raise an eyebrow at this, but can't do anything about it. it is perfectly legal." (It would not shock me if you all told me that is not true.) This was the first time I ever heard the word "stack" so I'm not sure if I could tell you much more about that.
  17. he can add another cleanout above the connection point that he is using to connect to. Easy as pie, and only a couple dollars of parts.

    david
  18. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    Day late and a dollar short here...
    I didn't go through all the details. but whenever a homeowner inquires about a self macerating toilet, I suggest a full sewage ejector.
    The macerating toilets have a small 3/4" or 1" outlet and it can't be good when it gets densely packed with dryer solids sitting there for long periods.
    Also...the price is almost as much as a full ejector set-up...the labor cost to install a sewage sump is a little higher, but worthwhile for the long-run.

    ANY time you have an addition or remodel done you should have them pull permits.
    The reasons are numerous...
    My insurance isn't any good if I try to make a damage claim without having pulled permits.
    When I pull permits I MUST do the job right...an inspector will be scrutinizing my work, so I won't cut corners at your expense.
    I CAN'T pull permits if I'm not licensed/legitimate, if you're contractor has talked you out of pulling permits...it's possibly a bad sign.

    ALWAYS get other estimates...don't just take one or two peoples word that "this guy is good".
    I keep a list of well over 20 references in the event that a customer might want to check me out, with more available on request...though thats a bit large a number, it's good for customers to know I'm confident enough to have that many and let them inquire.
  19. whoatemyham

    whoatemyham New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Yeah. :( But thank you very much for the information!!!



    ***

    The plumber spilt purple primer on the new vinyl floor today, and now he must pay to replace it. It is glued to the cement floor. He wants to replace it with the "tape it down kind" and place it over the ruined one that is glued to the floor. Should I let him do this? Is this the same quality as what I had originally with the vinyl glued to the floor? Will it last as long?

    I realize that's not really a "plumbing" question, but I was hoping someone might know anyway. ;)

    THANK YOU!!

    Amy and Tim Hamson
  20. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Tell him to bring you three estimates from professional vinyl installers and that you will let him know which one with which to arrange for the work to be done after you have considered each and have talked with the installers. As a professional himself, surely he will appreciate the fact that you would not want him to work outside his own trade!
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2007
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