How many ways could I screw up in 10 feet of plumbing? Toilet doesn't flush... but...

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Plumber119

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Hello everyone - I have found myself on this amazing site so many times reading great advice so I feel like this time I went all out in messing up so I could ask my first question... which might be a few questions... I'll try to be brief but get the details covered:
Some facts:
1) I'm not good at plumbing but I like to learn
2) I'm very handy in general, but... (see number 1)
3) I did a bathroom remodel myself. It started as a "let's level this old floor" and became "let's replace everything"
3a) I love my wife.
4) Two major changes: tore out a 1 piece tub/shower combo, replaced with shower.
5) Replaced toilet flange and first 2' of plumbing under toilet (old one was essentially falling through floor)

Problems:
- first week - everything worked but shower drain gurgled when toilet was flushed... if we flushed it too much, we siphoned the p-trap and had to run the shower to refill.
- third week - toilet flushes poorly/occasionally -- no more gurgle from shower

What I think I Probably Did Wrong:
- the tub/shower was plumbed with a 1.5" drain into a drum trap, which then heads over and meets the toilet drain line, about 2' down the line from the toilet drain, via a 1.5"-3" wye on its side. A few more feet from that it meets main stack/vent (pardon my lack of proper terminology). There was never (and still is not) a dedicated vent. Not wanting to make even bigger changes, I also used 1.5" PVC for the new shower drain, but replaced drum trap with P-trap. I now think I might have made a mistake because a few inches after the P-trap I used a 12.5deg angle to drop the pipe down a bit before meeting it back into the original drain pipe. I feel like I've now learned that drains should never drop before reaching the vent or something like that? Moving on...

Possibly related annoying things:
- I also have one of those stupid Vormax toilets that needs to "prime" or some nonsense that makes troubleshooting stuff like this extra hard since it needs to flush 3 times before working properly anyway.
- I bought and filled an above ground pool during this time, wreaking havoc on all indoor plumbing for multiple days when I would steal all water pressure via a hydrant in my yard. As these symptoms changed I ignored them assuming this was the cause, but now everything's back to normal and the toilet still doesn't flush right
- we installed a Toto Washlet bidet seat on the super-toilet, which monkeys with the water a little as well, although turning it off hasn't changed any behavior (but we're SOOO clean and high tech!)

I've used a 4ish foot toilet auger... hit nothing. Snaked the shower drain just to be sure... also hit nothing... BUT... it did seem to make the toilet flush harder a couple times. Nothing is leaking, and the rest of the house works fine. This particular waste line is almost direct to the septic (everything else comes in above it) and they're all seemingly okay.

Any suggestions would be amazing! I'm not opposed to calling a plumber but I really do like to learn and so far this has been primarily an annoyance more than a real problem. I'm aware that I likely need better (actual) venting but it's also a particularly bad setup for getting new plumbing work in the old crawlspaces. I guess in addition to the almost guaranteed code violation suggestions, I'd really like to understand why this might have changed over time, why the old drum trap didn't have this problem, and any potential solutions.

Thank you all so much for taking the time!

Dave
 

wwhitney

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Not sure on the drum trap, but the short answer is that your shower p-trap needs a vent. Looks like Maine uses the UPC, so unless your state or locality has amended it to allow AAVs, that means a dry vent takeoff. It also means the shower drain should be 2", rather 1.5", although that won't be causing your symptoms.

For a 1.5" trap, your dry vent takeoff has to occur within 42" horizontally (along the pipe) and 1.5" vertically (maximum fall) of the p-trap outlet. The takeoff has to be vertical (which include anything at least 45 degrees above level) and rise vertically until 6" above the shower flood rim. Above that elevation, the vent can go horizontal. Ultimately it has to go through the roof, typically by connecting to an existing vent that goes through the roof, again with the connection at least 6" above the flood level of all the fixtures vented.

If you change the shower to the required 2" p-trap, then your vent take-off can be up to 60" away horizontally (along the pipe) and 2" vertically (maximum fall).

Once the shower is dry-vented, that would qualify to wet vent the WC, if the distance measured along the WC drain from the flange to the wye where the shower drain joins the WC is 72" or less.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Plumber119

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Hey, Wayne -
Thank you so much for the detail and explanation. I believe our town does allow AAVs (and there were a few in my home when I purchased it) but I will check with the town office. Could I bother you with a couple clarifying questions?

- When you say "dry vent takeoff," is that just a term for connecting a dry vent or does takeoff mean something extra? It's not a term I've encountered.
- Any idea why with the previous tub/shower and the same toilet (with identical non-venting) the flushing was fine (or at least functioned normally)?
- Am I correct that the AAV (or the proper dry vent) would be on the 2" shower drain line, after the p-trap and before the shower drain line meets the WC drain 3" pipe?
- If using an AAV, does it just need to be 6" above the shower pan lip? Is that the same horizontal plane that needs to be crossed before a proper dry vent turns horizontal?

Thanks again, and if my questions don't make sense or are off base, feel free to let me know.

Dave
 

Plumber119

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Not sure on the drum trap, but the short answer is that your shower p-trap needs a vent. Looks like Maine uses the UPC, so unless your state or locality has amended it to allow AAVs, that means a dry vent takeoff. It also means the shower drain should be 2", rather 1.5", although that won't be causing your symptoms.

For a 1.5" trap, your dry vent takeoff has to occur within 42" horizontally (along the pipe) and 1.5" vertically (maximum fall) of the p-trap outlet. The takeoff has to be vertical (which include anything at least 45 degrees above level) and rise vertically until 6" above the shower flood rim. Above that elevation, the vent can go horizontal. Ultimately it has to go through the roof, typically by connecting to an existing vent that goes through the roof, again with the connection at least 6" above the flood level of all the fixtures vented.

If you change the shower to the required 2" p-trap, then your vent take-off can be up to 60" away horizontally (along the pipe) and 2" vertically (maximum fall).

Once the shower is dry-vented, that would qualify to wet vent the WC, if the distance measured along the WC drain from the flange to the wye where the shower drain joins the WC is 72" or less.

Cheers, Wayne
Hey, Wayne -
Thank you so much for the detail and explanation. I believe our town does allow AAVs (and there were a few in my home when I purchased it) but I will check with the town office. Could I bother you with a couple clarifying questions?

- When you say "dry vent takeoff," is that just a term for connecting a dry vent or does takeoff mean something extra? It's not a term I've encountered.
- Any idea why with the previous tub/shower and the same toilet (with identical non-venting) the flushing was fine (or at least functioned normally)?
- Am I correct that the AAV (or the proper dry vent) would be on the 2" shower drain line, after the p-trap and before the shower drain line meets the WC drain 3" pipe?
- If using an AAV, does it just need to be 6" above the shower pan lip? Is that the same horizontal plane that needs to be crossed before a proper dry vent turns horizontal?

Thanks again, and if my questions don't make sense or are off base, feel free to let me know.

Dave
 

wwhitney

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1) I just mean the connection of the dry vent to the fixture drain
2) No, but you did change toilets.
3) Yes, within the distance and elevation limits I listed
4) AAVs just need to be 4" above the horizontal drain being vented.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Plumber119

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1) I just mean the connection of the dry vent to the fixture drain
2) No, but you did change toilets.
3) Yes, within the distance and elevation limits I listed
4) AAVs just need to be 4" above the horizontal drain being vented.

Cheers, Wayne
Thanks, Wayne! Much appreciated!
 
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