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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Upstairs Bathroom Remodel | Plumbing

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Plumbing is not an exciting topic, but was a primary and unique part of our upstairs bathroom remodel in 2021. This post shows the plumbing challenges we faced going into the remodel and the solutions we found to those challenges. 

Before delving into the plumbing details, look at the finished shower that replaced an old tub in the same place. The new shower features ADA compliant grab bars, handheld shower head, safe ceramic tile floor, and easy to step in design. 

Now look at the old raised tub with its step that allowed room for the tub drain below the tub. The photo was taken after the remodel started. 

The original tub was one step above floor level to allow room for the plumbing needed for the tub. Remember the house is post and beam construction that does not have a subfloor between floors. The ceiling of the floor below is the flooring of this room. Tub and shower drains need a P-trap shaped pipe to properly drain the water from them.  The tub was placed on a wooden frame elevating it so there was room for a drain pipe below the tub. 

We knew the greatest challenge in the bathroom remodel was figuring out where to put the new p-trap drain for a floor level shower.  

We asked every contractor we talked with for his ideas on a solution of how to run the water lines to the shower and where to put the new p-trap drain. The tub's location backed up to a closet in a bedroom. Therefore, we were able to open up the wall from the closet for contractors and plumbers to see how the existing plumbing was installed for the tub and the challenges facing new plumbing.

The old tub drain sat above the floor and was only part of the challenge of plumbing. Old incoming copper water lines came up through the floor, turned a 90° angle, and laid on TOP of the wall plate, then went up inside the wall to the shower control in the old tub/shower combo. Normally water lines would be inserted THROUGH the 2x6 floor plate of the wall.  

The bathroom wall rests on TOP of a solid 8"x8" beam that is structural for supporting the house walls. 

Notice the 8"x8" POST at the left of the open stud wall. It connects to the 8"x8" beam the runs under the bathroom wall. 

The house was built in 1987 when water copper lines were the standard. Since then, newer flex water lines have become a standard and were the solution to the water line problem. The plumber drilled a hole from underneath the 8"x8" beam at an angle to the center of the bathroom wall to install the flex water lines that connect to new copper pipes in the walls.  You can't see the flex water lines because they are hidden by the black plastic waterproof lining for the new tile floor in the shower. 

The new drain for the new shower is in the center of the shower and empties the water into the new p-drain below the bathroom floor. See the next photo for where the new p-drain is located in the ceiling area of the floor below. 

The solution for the new p-drain was to place it in the top of a closet below the shower. 

And here is the p-drain below the shower. This room is a closet in my bathroom on the first floor directly below the shower. 

There was already a fur-down in the closet to which the new fur-down connects. 

There is also a large drain pipe near the toilet that sits above the bathroom floor. The step around the old tub was L-shaped to cover this drain. 

A new wooden box was built around the drain to hide it. Since it is at the back of the toilet, it is not a problem. 

A view of the bottom of the new tiled shower shows the new drain that empties into the p-trap drain pipe located in the top of the closet below the shower. The plumbing was a challenge that required several weeks of discussion to arrive at the solutions. Now the shower is finished the solution seems a perfect answer. 

The key to solving the challenging plumbing issues was finding the right contractor willing to think outside the usual way plumbing is installed.