Shower Water won't fully exit trap

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by kalka2, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. kalka2

    kalka2 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Northeast Maryland
    Our shower never fully drains. The water remains standing about 12" down the drain. I am assuming this the trap. I've tried natural and chemical cleaners, and a 50' auger, but there was no change so I don't think this is blockage per se.

    I've tried to fill the drain up further, but that seems to create just enough pressure to push some of the water through. It kind of acts like a toilet - the excess water swirls around the drain and at the end of it all I'm left with the same amount of water, not draining.

    When I use a plunger, I hear the water drain further and at that point I can only see a little trickle at the very bottom of the pipe. So I think what's happening is that there isn't enough pressure from the the normal drainage process to push the water through the trap.

    Any suggestions are welcome!
  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,818
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Shower won't drain

    Please stop messing with your shower drain! It is working just fine. When the water goes down the drain it falls into whats called a PTrap. This PTrap is shaped like a U at the bottom so it can hold water. It does this so the sewer smells don't enter the home.

    If the PTrap drained after use or was installed at the wrong elevation it could drain or partially drain and you would have a nasty smell or funky odor in your home. It's good you cleaned the line and snaked it. But stop - your done!!!

    [​IMG]

    A PTrap works like this.

    JW
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012
  3. kalka2

    kalka2 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Northeast Maryland
    John - I guess I'm missing something. The next time we shower, the water is just going to fill up again, remain standing, and in a another day we will smell all the bacteria that develops. There has to be another solution, right?
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,273
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Look under any sink in your house and you will see the P-trap. Every drain must have one, and it must hold water to prevent the sewer gas from coming back up the pipe and into the house. The small amount of standing water left in a P-trap does not cause any smell. This is how a home's plumbing has worked for over 100 years.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2012
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,412
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The only fixture that doesn't have a p-trap below if the toilet, which is incorporates a p-trap within the design. You notice there is always water there, right?

    If you use a wet vac and suck out the water, you will have air from the septic tank filling up your bathroom. The water seal is to prevent sewer gas from entering the home. And those pipes on the roof? Those are venting your sewer gas way up high so the breeze can disperse and take the smells away.
  6. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,818
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    The water goes down and any extra ounce over what's in there now goes up and over the U shaped piece and down the drain. It does it all by itself and you don't need to do a thing. If you have a floor drain that smells it might just need a glass or two of water in it.

    I have a floor drain in my basement that I flush often to insure it does not dry out. It's a 3" non vented, non primed floor drain. To slow down evaporation you can try adding a little olive oil on top. Extra Virgin is the best... LOL
  7. Big Chicken

    Big Chicken New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Do you mean that the shower itself has standing water in it, or was it the trap like others have suggested?
  8. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,818
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    We need a flip chart here I think. The water that the poster is asking about is in the shower drain line. Not in the shower. There could be water trapped in the shower itself?? - who knows? I think the poster is speaking about the water you can see when looking down a drain and viewing the water in the PTrap. I could be wrong here.

    [​IMG]

    This is a good cross section that shows a PTrap full of water. I hope this helps.

    JW
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    If you could see past the stopper in your bathroom sink, you'd see standing water there as well...as has been said, EVERY sink and fixture (a toilet is an exception, but it has water in it you can see) has standing water in it, or at least should. That is what seals the sewer gasses from getting into the house. If you're worried, run some water after your done to help ensure that what's left is essentially 'clean' (it's called grey water once it comes out of the supply line and goes down the drain).
  10. kalka2

    kalka2 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Northeast Maryland
    Thanks to all for your replies. John W. is correct, the water I see is in the trap itself and so I should do nothing. So my real problem seems to have more to do with ventilation in the bathroom. We clean our bathroom and shower regularly, but in less than a week we can smell a sulfury something from the shower drain. I guess it's down to baking soda & vinegar every few days.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,230
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    The water is CONTINUALLY changed everytime you use the shower, so unless you are NOT showering frequently, you are not smelling an "accumulation" in the drain, therefore your diagnosis may be incorrect.
  12. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,818
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Is this shower part of a new home, or new to you home? How long have you lived there? How old is the shower?

    Assuming the shower is new to you it could be that the shower base is not built properly and your smelling the funk of the water under the tile. When I lived on Grand Cayman Island BWI back in the day I bought my first "Island Car". I think it was a 1980 Chevy Cavalier and it smelt great when I bought it for $2,700 US. After the first month I loved that car - then we got a nice big Nor-Western (Big Storm) and I went down to go to work and my car had 4" of water in it. The smell was awful, I ended up ripping out all the floor carpet and drilled hole so the water could drain out. Some bondo. Some Duct tape and the car was good as new - kind a. The point to this story is that perhaps before selling the home the previous owners bleached out the smell of an old shower and now that you are using it it has reactivated the stench.

    I hope this is not the case.

    Could your toilet be leaking? Have you reset this?

    Could you have a blocked cheater vent in the wall somewhere? Do you know how to look for vents in the attic or roof line?

    Phantom smells are the worst.

    When you flush the toilet does the water in the shower PTrap rise?

    JW
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    How deep is the trap? The water in the trap can only protect from sewer smells coming from below the water line. If there's an accumulation of crud in the riser pipe above the trap to the drain, then that could be the source of smell.

    But, as John mentioned, if a tiled shower pan is not constructed properly, it can accummulate water and the whole thing can begin to smell like a swamp. This is most often caused by one or two things (or both!): no preslope underneath the waterproof liner, or clogged weep holes to the drain. Either can cause water to accumulate underneath the tile so you end up with a bunch of stagnent water sitting there. Most people consider the tile as the waterproof layer, but it is the liner that is the waterproof layer, and that must be sloped to the drain properly.
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