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Thread: Walk in shower/Wet Room and draughts!

  1. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Those shower drain pumps are always noisy in my experience, though if the pump is running flat out rather than proportionally to demand, that won't help.

    I'd go back to the landlord saying that you fear the neighbours' repeated complaints about the noise will escalate to a a formal complaint of noise nuisance to Environmental Health. If they make such a complaint, Environmental Health could take action against you, including imposing a requirement not to use the shower in its existing condition during the hours when people are normally asleep. Clearly, that would be incompatible with your autistic son's requirements to be undisturbed unless he can be safely left to shower whilst you go out for half an hour during the day.

    Once you have put the landlord on notice, there is little you can do if they persist in failing to fit the speed controller other than waiting to see if a formal noise nuisance complaint materialises. I wouldn't expect this to make much difference if the landlord has already refused to get the pump running in proportional mode, but it might just wake them up to the need to do something.

    It might not be a cheap fix, as the problem may be more than the lack of a controller board. If that controller relies on some sort of sensor in the sump or pipe that is also missing, or the wrong model of pump has been fitted, it may be impossible to fix without taking up the floor of the cubicle.

    I'm not surprised at the occupational therapist condemning a similar shower arrangement in your previous property - they're pretty much a last resort option. As you noted, the doors offer no support, the seals leak and they're a nightmare to keep clean. The undersized 6mm² supply cable is frustrating, too - electric showers of much less than 10kW are pretty hopeless in winter, but the new unit is as big as the supply supports so without a new supply nothing can be done.

    As you are probably well aware from your previous wet room, proper wet rooms involve a great deal of work especially if they're built to avoid a drain pump. Getting the necessary fall for gravity drainage from a flat floor is difficult unless you can excavate (or open up if not on the ground floor) all the way to the drains.

    My (privately funded by my family) wet room is in a new build extension. The shower is a thermostatic pumped unit fed by the hot and cold water tanks, and the floor drain uses gravity drainage to the foul drain which, fortunately, was only a couple of metres away across the garden. Though this involved the extra costs of new build, it was unavoidable as we had no available downstairs room to convert. Had we had a suitable room, there would have been considerable expense digging up a route for new gravity drainage if we wanted to avoid one of those accursed shower drain pumps.

    Sadly, the costs involved means that funding is unlikely to become available for a flat floor wet room at your bungalow unless there is agreement from everyone that a flat floor wet room is the only viable option. As you accepted the property without an agreement to fit such a wet room and have managed somehow for over a year, it's disappointing but not surprising that replacement of your shower was classed as non urgent so will not attract funding in the foreseeable future.

    I guess the summary is something like this:

    You - this shower is like showering under a tepid drizzle whilst being assaulted by noise of a lapping dog amplified by a heavy metal band's stage amplification. The doors collapse if I do much more than look at them, and the seals leak.

    Your son - disturbed greatly by the noise, whilst privacy/independence related issues mean he's only content showering at night (it sounds like even that was a huge compromise).

    Neighbours - the noise, especially when we're trying to sleep.

    Housing Association - we are being pressured over a growing backlog of homeless people we can't house and people whose disabilities mean they need urgent adaptations, a new property or residential care. We have no money to fund other adaptations or improvements.

    Social Services - all the Disabled Facilities Grant money has gone before we've funded the urgent adaptations needed to keep people in their existing homes.

    There's really no point going back over whether the decision to accept the property was wise. All decisions to move are a compromise. It sounds like the move was mostly very positive, and the bathroom will hopefully get sorted in the future, hopefully when the existing setup reaches the end of its usable life. The magnetic half door cubicles often do not last that long. At that point, hopefully the Housing Association can be persuaded that it is a false economy to do any other than install a wet room.

    Make sure you get any falls in the shower documented and make the Housing Association aware. The more vehement your GP is prepared to be about the unsuitability of the existing arrangements in the light of your health, the better - you may just tip the balance from "it's barely suitable" (as now) to "it's an unacceptable safety risk" over time.

    So far as damp goes, do dehumidifiers help, or is the noise too distressing for your son?

    Talking of a drainage nightmare, we're now into the third week without a proper upstairs bathroom. We'd dreamed of refitting it for years, but had always kept putting it off (we're owner occupiers). Eventually, the dodgy drains became unusable - you couldn't flush anything solid other than a couple of sheets of loo paper without risking blocking the loo, and the sink siphoned into the bath when you pulled the plug with a load of sewer gas escaping as it did so.

    It turned out that the original builders had idiotically installed the bathroom drains with no fall whatsoever to the soil stack as well as making other installation errors that restricted flow in the pipes. As a result, the pipes had gradually blocked over the years when fat had been deposited in the pipes rather than being swept away with the flow. This fat had reacted with cleaners over the year to form a solid deposit. To make matters worse, the sink and bath drains were connected together and ran to the soil stack in a single pipe.

    The combined drain pipe from the sink and bath had the width of two pencils left open at the entrance to the soil stack, which explained the siphoning from sink to bath and the dreadful drainage from both sink and bath. The soil pipe from the toilet was also badly blocked at the entrance to the soil stack. Eventually, the builders had no alternative to ripping up the bathroom floor, breaking open the boxing in around the soil stack, cutting the soil stack at chest height on the ground floor and throwing the floor and pipework in a skip. Fortunately, the builders managed to clear the small amount of blockage below chest height on the ground floor, as replacing any more of the soil stack would have involved demolishing much of the small downstairs bathroom with the consequential large bill for reinstatement.

    The old bathroom floor came up easily as the original builders had saved a tiny amount of money by stupidly not using waterproof boards. In the past, we'd had a slow weep from the flexible feed to the toilet cistern, which was so difficult to spot that we didn't realise until we found water damage downstairs. It turned out this had caused extensive damage to the old floor boards under the vinyl flooring, some of which crumbled away when lifted, so the entire floor had to come out rather than just the section that needed lifting to access the waste pipes. Fortunately, the joists were undamaged.

    The builders have been brilliant throughout, though this goes to show how a simple bathroom refit can finish up requiring extensive demolition and reinstatement.

  2. #12
    Senior Member phaedra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Thanks for the input, another excellent read

    Our previous property was a 3 bed semi with an upstairs bathroom so gravity drainage

    My son will only get showered if forced to, apart from the noise he also has tactile issues with the way a shower feels on his skin but we don't have room for a bath and I couldn't use one if we did. He can shower safely when he's in it I just have to stay up long enough to make sure he goes in at all!.

    I had thought of getting someone out to maybe raise the shower tray about 10 to 20cm off the floor as that may give enough of an angle for the water to drain off without the pump but I gather that I need some sort of valve to stop anything coming back up from the sewerage system.

    I rang the shower pump manufacturer who say that a controller would have been supplied with the pump and should have been fitted when it was installed, housing assoc. workman who looked at it said it was more than likely that whoever fitted it took the controller board and used it (or sold it) on another job, apparently I'm not the only one with this problem!.

    Again many thanks for the informative reply

  3. #13
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Interesting to read about all these problems with walk-in showers. I'm an owner occupier of a bungalow. Many years ago I had my bathroom refitted and updated. I had a Thermostatic shower installed with a big shower head over a bath. I had to have two new cold water tanks put in the loft that were raised as high as possible on stillage. Thermostatic showers are safe to use as they don't alter temperature if say a washing machine was on at the same time. It is also gravity fed with no electric pump but the flow is very good.

    I remember rading about black mould. This is usually caused through damp especially if you dry cloths on radiators when there's no ventilation. I have a dryer in the garage of dry stuff in open plan living areas where ventilation is good.

    My bathroom has a solid concrete floor and odd as it seems I did buy a low height bath but the plumbers had to raise it 4 inches to allow the water to drain out of the plughole. To compensate for the additional height I have a 4 inch high plastic box to step onto before swinging my legs over and standing on a rubber bath mat.

    Luckily I have plenty of rails in the area which means I can enter and leave the shower area safely.

    One thing I've learnt from this thread is that I won't be able to install a level walk-in shower. The flooring of any shower cubical will need to be at least 4 inches high to allow for drainage without a pump.I can't actually walk without holding onto something so it's a design nightmare. Touch wood - I've never fallen in the bathroom as it would be a problem getting back up as I live alone and don't ask for support - it's just slow and easy is my way.

    I'll make do for the moment with my set up then I'll have to pay for a revamp.

  4. #14
    Senior Member phaedra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Falling is a huge worry, I managed to get them to move the grab rail but it's still not great, the sit on stool is also very difficult to use as it takes up most of the room in the shower cubicle making getting in/out and turning round difficult. I reckon I partially fall almost every time I shower and have fully fallen about five or six times in the last year.

    My sons sleep pattern changes wildly, at the moment he's sleeping from about 6am to 2 or 4pm in the afternoon so getting a shower during the times he's asleep is not a good idea safety wise and as the shower is on the other side of the wall where his headboard is the noise would wake him up.

    Then there's the problem of him not wanting to touch me (or even see me!) if I'm in there with no clothes on and need help getting up off the floor, can't really blame him for that though as I'm sure a naked a 6' 5" 20 stone Geordie isn't a pretty sight to anyone!

    As I'm sure we all do we adapt and do what we find works best with the given situation. It's far from ideal but until I win the lottery or move house again (can't see that happening!) we'll just have to get on with it

  5. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by phaedra View Post
    I had thought of getting someone out to maybe raise the shower tray about 10 to 20cm off the floor as that may give enough of an angle for the water to drain off without the pump but I gather that I need some sort of valve to stop anything coming back up from the sewerage system.
    I'm no plumbing expert, but you'd need room to get some sort of trap under the shower waste to prevent gases coming back from the foul drains. You really do not want sewer gas coming back into the house - it smells and it's flammable.

    Getting enough space for a trap and sufficient fall on the waste pipe can be tricky. My wet room was new build and the foul drain was nearby, so there was no problem building a trap into the floor and putting a waste pipe with plenty of fall on it through the foundations to the foul drain to remove the shower, sink and toilet waste. All the builders had to do was remodel the manhole where this pipe reached the foul drains to accommodate the new input. This means that I have a downstairs level floor wet room with no shower drain pump. It even has under floor heating.

    However, if the intention was to adapt an existing downstairs room, fitting this type of drain would have involved digging a big hole in the concrete floor slab and making a hole through the foundations for the pipe some way below floor level. You can see why the easier option is often taken of pumping the shower waste down an existing higher level drain.

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