If you’re looking to install a shower in your basement, you’re probably wondering how it can be done without breaking any concrete. Basement bathroom shower installations can be incredibly difficult when it requires you to tear up your concrete floors in the process. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
During construction, if your contractor made provisions for the addition of a basement bathroom, you’ll have plumbing stub-outs in your basement floor to accommodate the install of a sink, toilet, or shower. However, if you don’t have any basement drain provisions or your main drain is above your basement level, you can still install a shower without having to break concrete.
The solution to installing a shower without breaking concrete is to implement an up-flush drainage system. This arrangement allows for the water to be pumped from your basement shower into your home’s main drain.
Table of Contents
- What Are Plumbing Stub-Outs?
- Rough-In Process
- Installing an Up-Flush Drainage System
- Step One: Verify Depth
- Step Two: Build Base
- Step Three: Install Support Flange
- Step Four: Install the Pump
- Step Five: Discharge Excess Water
- Step Six: Install the Vent Pipe
- Step Seven: Install the Backflow Device
- Step Eight: Connect Pipes to Main System
- Step Nine: Install the Toilet
- Step Ten: Hook Up Additional Features
- Elevated Basement Shower Base
- Additional Considerations
What Are Plumbing Stub-Outs?
The easiest and least expensive way to install a basement shower without breaking concrete is to connect it to existing plumbing stub-outs. To provide your home with water and drainage, your contractor has to run piping behind walls, underground, and underneath floors.
When they do this, they will leave the ends of the pipes sticking out, ready to be hooked up to a fixture. The portion of the pipe that sticks out of the floor is known as a stub-out, and it’s often capped until it’s ready to be connected to something.
While this procedure for installing a basement shower limits your choice with regard to bathroom location, using the existing stub-outs will save you a great deal of time, labor, and money. Installing the shower is as simple as running the plumbing lines from the stub-outs, without any need to break concrete.
During the “rough-in” process of construction, electrical conduit and water and gas piping are installed into the framing of the floors and walls before they are finished. Although these pipes are concealed behind the walls and floors, the end of the pipes must remain available. The installation of stub-outs makes them easily accessible.
Contractors carefully plan out the location of the stub-outs to correspond with the elements and fixtures that will be connected in the future. After the rough-in process is complete, you are left with water stub-outs for bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and showers, along with drain stub-outs for sinks and, in some cases, showers as well.
This procedure is very simple and convenient to hook up a shower basement without destroying the concrete flooring.
Installing an Up-Flush Drainage System
If your basement doesn’t have existing plumbing stub-outs, your other option for installing a basement shower without breaking concrete is to implement an up-flush drainage system.
An up-flush drainage system involves a pump that removes the sewage from a holding tank behind your toilet, shower, or tub, and pushes it into the main drain of your home. This main drain is located at a higher elevation than your basement and ties into the line that leads to either your city sewer main or your septic system.
The up-flush toilet system also features a grinder for liquifying solid waste, allowing for easy channeling and removal. Before you begin with the install, you need to require an up-flush unit, consult with a plumbing inspector to ensure that you are meeting code, and then draw up a plan. Then, to install an up-flush toilet system, and eliminate the need to break your concrete flooring, follow the steps outlined below:
Step One: Verify Depth
Before you choose a model and start the installation, you need to find out what type of up-flush unit you need based on the distance from the sewer line. For the purpose of a basement bathroom, you’ll need a macerating toilet, which has a blade for grinding waste before it’s pumped away. More specifically, opt for a unit that has connections for a shower and a sink.
Step Two: Build Base
An up-flush toilet unit is designed to fit between 2-inch by 6-inch joists and it has to rest on a relatively level surface. If needed, before you proceed, craft a simple wood 2 inch by 2-inch frame, mix and pour sand-mix hydraulic concrete, and then set the up-flush unit into it. Be sure to level off in both directions and let the concrete cure properly before you move onto the next step.
Step Three: Install Support Flange
Next, prepare the up-flush unit for the toilet by installing the iron support flange. Double-check that the toilet mounting bolts are in the proper place and that they are long enough to mount the toilet.
Step Four: Install the Pump
Before you can install the pump, you need to assemble the float switch and affix the discharge pipe. Then, place the pump into the tank and mount the float switch. Before you seal up the unit, test to ensure that the pump operates as expected.
To test, simply attach a garden hose to a water supply and run it to the flange hole.
Step Five: Discharge Excess Water
At this point, you need to release extra water from the discharge pipe. Connect the discharge pipe to the drainpipe and allow it to empty into a floor drain or five-gallon bucket. Then, plug the up-flush unit into a nearby GFVI receptacle.
Allow the tank to slowly fill with water. Once it reaches the correct level, the pump should turn on and start discharging water.
Step Six: Install the Vent Pipe
Now, it’s time to install the vent pipe. Locate the rubber flange that came with your unit and insert it, along with a 3-inch PVC vent pipe, to the unit. If it’s a tight fit, a little bit of liquid soap can make it much easier to insert.
Then, run the vent pipe to the main stack. It is crucial that the vent and drain are installed in a manner that is code approved. Make sure that you consult a plumbing inspector before you complete the configuration.
Step Seven: Install the Backflow Device
The purpose of a backflow device is to ensure that wastewater doesn’t flow back into the unit. Connect the discharge pipe to the backflow device, installing it with the correct end up (it’ll be clearly marked for ease).
Next, attach a 2-inch PVC drainpipe to the discharge unit and run it toward the home’s drain. Like the vent and drain, make sure that this connection is done in a code-approved manner.
Step Eight: Connect Pipes to Main System
With the backflow device correctly installed, you can connect the vent and drain pipes to your house’s main system. Make sure that the unit is plugged into a GFCI receptacle that is within reach from the access panel.
Then, install the supply line, walls, and subfloor. When doing so, use special care to avoid piercing the tank with any fasteners.
Step Nine: Install the Toilet
Continue on by finishing the walls and floor and installing the access panel. Once that’s complete, position the toilet onto a wax ring with the bowl sitting on the up-flush unit. Then, connect the toilet to the cold water supply line using a stop valve.
Step Ten: Hook Up Additional Features
At this stage, the up-flush system is installed and all that’s left is to install the additional features – such as the shower. These plumbing features can be connected directly to the up-flush unit, with the drainpipes flowing downward to the unit.
The manufacturer typically supplies an extra flange for hooking up a shower and sink drain to the tank. Be sure to follow the specific instructions outlined by the manufacturer for cutting the access hole for the drain.
Since the sink drain is generally above the floor you shouldn’t have any issues. However, with a shower or tub, you usually have to raise it to allow the drain line to properly flow down to the up-flush unit.
Elevated Basement Shower Base
As previously mentioned, you need to elevate your shower to allow for sufficient drainage from the shower to the up-flush system. The standard slope that is necessary for a water drainage pipe is ¼ inch per linear foot of piping. To create room for a drain slope, along with having a P-trap installed in the drain line underneath the shower, you must have an elevated shower base.
As a result, you’ll have to step up roughly six inches to enter the shower stall. You can either purchase an elevated shower base from a local home center or build a frame out of lumber. Use plywood and 2x4s to craft a shallow platform for the shower to rest on.
Since the ceilings in basements tend to be much lower than other ceilings in your home, adding an elevated shower will reduce headroom while you shower. Consider the location where you intend to install the basement shower, making sure to consider the height limitations of the users.
Where you put the shower in your basement will depend on the up-flush toilet system. In most cases, it’s best to keep all plumbing fixtures close to the sink, shower, or toilet. The farther they are away from the collection tank, the higher you’ll need to raise the floor of the shower to allow for proper drainage.