Hooking up the Drains and the Plumbing
I stood looking at the hole in the wall and turned my attention to the floor drain. Luckily for me, the original contractors had not concreted in the drain hookup so I didn’t have to break out any floor. I had a nice, convenient hole to work in.
I measured the preformed base and then made the comparisons to the existing two-inch pipe and figured out that I would need to do some juggling with a couple of bends and an “S” trap to get things lined up even close enough that I could make the drains work. Marking the true location of the center of the drain in the new base, I fiddled around until I had the pipes almost lined up to where I could make them fit. I knew that I could buy a 2 inch offset drain to fit the base that would help me to get the pipes aligned that last little piece, enough to make them work. The first test required that I worked the new base into the space and see how closely the drains would align. I also had to get an exact measurement of the standpipe between the trap and the base drain. Too short and I would not get the pipes connected, too long and the base would rock about and the weight would be on the drain maybe causing it to break.
I took my measurements and checked them at least twenty times, well maybe a couple, and slid the base back to finish work on the pipes, gluing everything into place and hoping like hell that my numbers were sound. I slid the base back into place and then with the pipes lined up, screwed the trap into place getting it as tight as I could. Everything worked. What a relief as this had been the part of the job that really had me worried. I did NOT want to break out any of the concrete floor which I would have had to have done if I made any mistakes in setting the pipes and the base unit.
With a sigh of relief, I turned my attention to the copper piping and the existing valve that I needed to replace. It turns out that the plumbers who worked on the original house way back when, used the bath space to run the plumbing to the bathroom sink and toilet and had an intricate system of four pipes, two hot and two cold running side by side that were connected together by “Tee’s” with the pipe from the top of the “Tee” running to the shower valve. Well, I say valve but in point of fact, there was a system of copper pipes that connected together the hot and cold faucets to the bath, plus the bath filler pipe with the top pipe going to the shower head. I guess that maybe they didn’t have the ready-made valve mixing units that are available today when this house was built. Even so, it worked well in the previous 30 years.
I knew what I had to do in the way of plumbing and after going back to Home Depot to get the necessary parts, I started to assemble the new plumbing to hook up the shower valve. This entailed sweating the copper pipe joints with a torch and solder which I have to confess, I am not very good at. However, I was at least going to try it and although, working conditions were a little cramped for space, I had every confidence in my ability to make a solder joint, and above all, one that wouldn’t leak. Alas, it was not to be. After nearly setting alight the studs in the wall, I quickly determined that it was not the way to go. So, back to Home Depot where I located a new (to me) system called Sharkbite. It was a plastic system with push and lock fittings that also had an adapter to hook onto a copper pipe. That did it for me and I carefully planned out all of the moves and the fittings I would need to get my piping in the wall hooked up. Discovering that system was the best thing that happened to me that day as I carefully hooked everything up, including the new valve. You can see the Sharkbite system in the pictures below. I had the water turned off during this process and had to turn it back on to test the joints. I had a couple of small leaks which I fixed by some judicious tightening of the correct joints. At the same time, I inadvertently opened the valve to the shower which I happened to be standing under at the time and needless to say, managed to get soaked. At least I knew that the shower worked.
Just to be sure, I turned on the faucets to the sink and flushed the toilet a couple of times and both were getting water so I deemed that I was all through with the drains and the plumbing. The next part would be more interesting as it entailed installing the tiles and then the grab bars.
In Part 4, I will talk about tile installation for this project.