A place to rinse off outdoors is a no-brainer for beach dwellers. But it's also great for cleaning up grimy gardeners, sweaty Little Leaguers, and muddy mutts. Here's how to hook up one of your own
Space to Spare
This extra-large, 8-by-12-foot shower in Bridgehampton, N.Y., has mahogany walls, built-in teak benches, and stainless-steel fixtures. Perfect for a post-surfing rinse, it features a foot wash, hand-held spray, and oversized showerhead. The floor is hand-cut Indian stone with river-rock gravel.
You don't have to be shivering in a sandy swimsuit to appreciate an open-air shower. Even landlocked homeownersâstressed-out townies, gritty greenthumbs, suburban soccer dadsâare discovering that bathing outdoors is not just practical, it's downright luxurious. That's how architect Howard Backen sees his shower. Every morning, he's out there, lathering up to the sound of birds in his garden and the sight of mountains beyond his home in California's Napa Valley. 'It's invigorating when it's cold, it's interesting when it's rainy, and it's incredibly refreshing when it's sunny and hot,' he says. Whether the goal is to wash off the day or to commune with nature, there is an outdoor shower for you. The simplest is a foot sprayer hooked to an existing cold-water spigot. The most complicated and expensive is an outdoor shower with cold and hot water, a custom enclosure for privacy, and a built-in changing room for convenience. What's universal about any alfresco shower is that it beckons you outside. And yes, for some, it's also about the exhilaration of being in the backyard in the buff. Here's what you need to know to create the outdoor shower that best suits your nakedâor not-so-nakedâambition.
Determining the best location for an outdoor shower depends on how you'll use it. Luke and Allison Babcock put the foot shower at their Sag Harbor, New York, home near the front door so when the couple and their two daughters return from the beach they can spray off the sand before going inside. Others opt for a shower by the pool for a postswim rinse, or close to the back door for the resident athlete just back from a sweaty jog.
The best outdoor showers also take advantage of the natural beauty of the surroundings. For a family in Bridgehampton, N.Y., architect Nick Martin designed a shower with a mahogany enclosure that he situated toward the back of the house to offer views of a rose garden and a farm across the street.
Plumbing can also dictate site. A shower on a deck near the kitchen or bathroom or on a ground-floor patio off the laundry room means you can tap into existing hot- and cold-water lines. One placed in a remote cluster of trees, though appealing, requires digging a trench and running pipe to the destination.
Stripped of their bark, eastern red cedar trunks are used as the posts for the enclosure of this shower in central Virginia. The white pine door and
walls are elevated off the ground to promote airflow at the bottom, and stop at about 5 feet at the top so the homeowners can take in views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
When designing your outdoor shower, consider how much you are willing to expose, and account for the feelings of guests or neighbors. 'I encourage people to build with the most modest person in mind,' says Ethan Fierro, author of The Outdoor Shower. The most straightforward approach is a freestanding folding screen, which works especially well on a multiuse deck where permanent walls can eat up too much space. For an outdoor shower on a rooftop of a client's home in Washington, D. C., architect Kai Tong designed a roll-up bamboo screen that's high enough for a shield but low enough not to block dramatic views of the capital. The most organic approach draws on the landscape, whether a new privet hedge or an existing curtain of trees. Keep in mind that if trees are deciduous, you may have to wait until late spring for sufficient cover.
A custom wood shower enclosure offers privacy plus flexibility to add built-ins and other amenities. To prevent mold and mildew, be sure the space is well ventilated so it completely dries out after every use. Walls should be secured to corner posts and elevated about a foot off the ground to promote air circulation. And if you decide to add a solid roof, attach it only to the posts, leaving open space above the walls. A sunny location like the poolside spot that designer Beau Clowney selected for a client's shower in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, will also help dry the enclosure.
The lever for the foot shower outside this Sag Harbor, N.Y., home is low to the ground so the homeowners' two young daughters can reach it. A sailing rope tied to the lever and looped through a pulley placed high on the wall lets adults easily turn on the water, too.
Hook up an outdoor shower much like you would an indoor one. If you want both cold and hot running water, This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey recommends adding a pressure-balance valve to prevent scalding. 'And for those who live in four-season climates, by far the biggest concern is having the ability to drain pipes when the temperature drops,' cautions Richard; water trapped inside can freeze and crack the pipes. Shutoff valves should be located in the house with pipes traveling on a downward slope. An exposed riser and a showerhead that both unscrew, like the gooseneck model Steve Crandall used in a shower he built in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains region, ensure that every drop is eliminated.
Drainage is also an issue when the shower is in use. Local building codes vary about the disposal of gray water. But for the most part, outdoor showers simply drain into the ground. A drywell consisting of an earthen pit lined with landscape fabric and filled with gravel can be placed underneath the shower floor to help disperse the flow. More complicated, but required in some locales, is routing wastewater into the sewer system.
The built-in shower panel from Rohl can be used indoors or out. It has a glass face and stainless-steel shelves behind for shampoo and soap. An 8-inch rain-style head, hand shower, and three body sprays rinse every bit of you. (About $4,731, ROHL)
For shower floors, walls, and fixtures, choose weather-resistant materials. Enclosures made of pressure-treated wood, cedar, teak, Brazilian ironwood, even salvaged window shutters will hold up well outside. When buying imported wood, look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which means the boards were sustainably harvested. Wood is also suitable for floors, but like most decking materials, it should be treated periodically to prevent mildew and fading. A stone floor requires less maintenance, but be sure to get a type that's comfortable under bare feet, such as bluestone or tumbled river rock.
Beau Clowney recommends bronze or copper fixtures because they develop a natural patina as they age. Brass also works well, but avoid anything too shiny, because the gloss will fade. In seaside locations, where salty air can pit most metals, corrosion-resistant stainless steel with a 304 rating is typically the best choice. To keep stainless looking new, wash it down every couple of weeks with warm soapy water, rinse, and then wipe it dry with a soft cloth.
The amenities you add to your shower will play a big role in how it feels and how frequently you use it. They also add to the price, which ranges from about $200 for a basic hose-connected shower to upward of $20,000 for a lavish bathhouse with a changing area and built-in seating. Among the simplest add-ons are hooks for hanging robes and wet bathing suits, and shelves for shampoo, and extra towels. A slatted teak mat will feel better on your feet than standing directly on a drain. Other options play off the natural setting. Homeowner John Brown used deer antlers as a towel rack in the shower outside his 1920s log cabin in Folly Beach, S.C. And then there are indulgences, such as an oversized rain-style showerhead to amplify the feeling of being out in the elements, outdoor speakers (some are disguised as rocks) to pipe in music, and low-voltage lighting to illuminate an evening shower. But of course, the best amenity of all is nature itself.
All-in-one systems make it simpler than ever to get wet in the wild
Spa Treatment The built-in shower panel (see Image 5) from Rohl can be used indoors or out. It has a glass face and stainless-steel shelves behind for shampoo and soap. An 8-inch rain-style head, hand shower, and three body sprays rinse every bit of you. (About $4,731, Rohl) How to communicate with rest api js.
Simple Spray The portable outdoor shower from Orvis has an oversized stainless-steel head that rises from a tower made of nyatoh, a weather-resistant wood. The unit, which hooks up to a garden hose, also has a built-in soap dish and towel hook. (About $279, Orvis)
Sun Fueled The lacquered steel Solar Shower tower relies on the sun to warm cold water from your garden hose. A built-in combination energy collector panel and storage tank can heat 5 Â½ gallons of water in less than two hours. (About $379, SPP)
Mostly Modern The VIZA wall-mount shower from Calazzo adds a stylized look to your outdoor bathing area. It has a sleek one-piece stainless steel body and teak handles. The shower can be plumbed or hooked up to a garden hose with an adapter. (About $899, Calazzo)
Do-It-All The Water Valet from Rittenhouse has a sink for washing hands, tools, and vegetables; a hand-crank reel for coiling the garden hose; and a shower. Made of stainless steel with brass fittings. (About $2,251, Rittenhouse)
How to Build a Pondless Waterfall
If you have to make plumbing repairs around your home, it helps to understand your drain-waste-vent system (DWV). The fat pipes in your house make up the DWV, carrying wastewater to a city sewer line or your private sewer treatment facility (called a septic tank and field).
The drainpipes are made of cast iron, galvanized pipe, copper, or plastic. Local building codes that regulate the materials used in the DWV system have changed over the years, so most older homes have a combination of materials.
A typical bathroom sink is a good example of how all these components work together. You probably havenât spent much time observing the pipes beneath your vanity, but take a look and this is what youâll see:
This diagram of a typical DWV system is called a plumbing tree.
All the faucets and water appliances in a house use this same system of drains, pipes, and vents. All the waste lines have a cleanout, which is a Y-shaped fitting thatâs accessible so that you can clean out any serious obstructions within the system.
Soil stack is connected to the sewer at the bottom and vented at the top, while each plumbing fixture has its own trap.
In modern plumbing, a drain-waste-vent (or DWV) is part of a system that allows air to enter a plumbing system to maintain proper air pressure to enable the removal of sewage and greywater from a dwelling. Waste is produced at fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and showers. As the water runs down, proper venting is required to avoid a vacuum from being created. As the water runs down air must be allowed into the waste pipe either through a roof vent, or the 'drain waste vent.' (or DWV)
DWV systems maintain neutral air pressure in the drains, allowing free flow of water and sewage down drains and through waste pipes by gravity. It is critical that a sufficient downward slope be maintained throughout, to keep liquids and entrained solids flowing freely towards the main drain from the building. In relatively rare situations, a downward slope out of a building to the sewer cannot be created, and a special collection pit and grinding lift 'sewage ejector' pump are needed. By contrast, potable water supply systems operate under pressure to distribute water up through buildings, and do not require a continuous downward slope in their piping.
Every fixture is required to have an internal or external trap; double trapping is prohibited by plumbing codes due to its susceptibility to clogging. Every plumbing fixture must also have an attached vent. The top of stacks must be vented too, via a stack vent, which is sometimes called a stink pipe.
All plumbing waste fixtures use traps to prevent sewer gases from leaking into the house. Through traps, all fixtures are connected to waste lines, which in turn take the waste to a 'soil stack', or 'soil vent pipe'. At the building drain system's lowest point, the drain-waste vent is attached, and rises (usually inside a wall) to and out of the roof. Waste exits from the building through the building's main drain and flows through a sewage line, which leads to a septic system or a public sewer. Cesspits are generally prohibited in developed areas.
The venting system, or plumbing vents, consists of a number of pipes leading from waste pipes to the outdoors, usually through the roof. Vents provide a means to release sewer gases outside instead of inside the house. Vents also admit oxygen to the waste system to allow aerobic sewage digestion, and to discourage noxious anaerobic decomposition.[further explanation needed] Vents provide a way to equalize the pressure on both sides of a trap, thereby allowing the trap to hold the water which is needed to maintain effectiveness of the trap, and avoiding 'trap suckout' which otherwise might occur.
A sewer pipe is normally at neutral air pressure compared to the surrounding atmosphere. When a column of waste water flows through a pipe, it compresses air ahead of it in the pipe, creating a positive pressure that must be released so it does not push back on the waste stream and downstream trap water seals. As the column of water passes, air must freely flow in behind the waste stream, or negative pressure results. The extent of these pressure fluctuations is determined by the fluid volume of the waste discharge.
Excessive negative air pressure, behind a 'slug' of water that is draining, can siphon water from traps at plumbing fixtures. Generally, a toilet outlet has the shortest trap seal, making it most vulnerable to being emptied by induced siphonage. An empty trap can allow noxious sewer gases to enter a building.
On the other hand, if the air pressure within the drain becomes suddenly higher than ambient, this positive transient could cause waste water to be pushed into the fixture, breaking the trap seal, with serious hygiene and health consequences if too forceful. Tall buildings of three or more stories are particularly susceptible to this problem. Vent stacks are installed in parallel to waste stacks to allow proper venting in tall buildings.
Most residential building drainage systems in North America are vented directly through the building roofs. The DWV pipe is typically ABS or PVC DWV-rated plastic pipe equipped with a flashing at the roof penetration to prevent rainwater from entering the buildings. Older homes may use copper, iron, lead or clay pipes, in rough order of increasing antiquity.
Under many older building codes, a vent stack (a pipe leading to the main roof vent) is required to be within a 5-foot (1.5 m) radius of the draining fixture it serves (sink, toilet, shower stall, etc.). To allow only one vent stack, and thus one roof penetration as permitted by local building code, sub-vents may be tied together inside the building and exit via a common vent stack. One additional requirement for a vent stack connection occurs when there are very long horizontal drain runs with very little slope to the run. Adding a vent connection within the run will aid flow, and when used with a cleanout allows for better serviceability of the long run.
A blocked vent is a relatively common problem caused by anything from leaves, to dead animals, to ice dams in very cold weather, or a horizontal section of the venting system, sloped the wrong way and filled with water from rain or condensation. Symptoms range from bubbles in the toilet bowl when it is flushed, to slow drainage, and all the way to siphoned (empty) traps which allow sewer gases to enter the building.
When a fixture trap is venting properly, a 'sucking' sound can often be heard as the fixture vigorously empties out during normal operation. This phenomenon is harmless, and is different from 'trap suckout' induced by pressure variations caused by wastewater movement elsewhere in the system, which is not supposed to allow interactions from one fixture to another. Toilets are a special case, since they are usually designed to self-siphon to ensure complete evacuation of their contents; they are then automatically refilled by a special valve mechanism.
Mechanical vents (also called cheater vents) come in two types: Air admittance valves and check vents, the latter being a vent with a check valve.
Air admittance valves (AAVs, or commonly referred to in the UK as Durgo valves and in the US as Studor vents and Sure-VentÂ®) are negative-pressure-activated, one-way mechanical valves, used in a plumbing or drainage venting system to eliminate the need for conventional pipe venting and roof penetrations. A discharge of wastewater causes the AAV to open, releasing the vacuum and allowing air to enter the plumbing vent pipe for proper pressure equalization.
Since AAVs will only operate under negative pressure situations, they are not suitable for all venting applications, such as venting a sump, where positive pressures are created when the sump fills. Also, where positive drainage pressures are found in larger buildings or multi-story buildings, an air admittance valve could be used in conjunction with a positive pressure reduction device such as the PAPA positive air pressure attenuator, to provide a complete venting solution for more-complicated drainage venting systems.
Using AAVs can significantly reduce the amount of venting materials needed in a plumbing system, increase plumbing labor efficiency, allow greater flexibility in the layout of plumbing fixtures, and reduce long-term roof maintenance problems associated with conventional vent stack roofing penetrations.
While some state and local building departments prohibit AAVs, the International Residential and International Plumbing Codes allow it to be used in place of a vent through the roof. AAV's are certified to reliably open and close a minimum of 500,000 times, (approximately 30 years of use) with no release of sewer gas; some manufacturers claim their units are tested for up to 1.5 million cycles, or at least 80 years of use. AAVs have been effectively used in Europe for more than two decades.[when?] US manufacturers offer warranties that range from 1 year to 'lifetime'.
Island fixture vent
Island fixture vent for under-cabinet waste plumbing
An island fixture vent, sometimes colloquially called a 'Chicago Loop', âBoston loopâ or 'Bow Vent', is an alternate way of venting the trap installed on an under counter island sink or other similar applications where a conventional vertical vent stack or air admittance valve is not feasible or allowed.
As with all drains, ventilation must be provided to allow the flowing waste water to displace the sewer gas in the drain, and then to allow air (or some other fluid) to fill the vacuum which would otherwise form as the water flows down the pipe.
An island fixture vent provides an elegant solution for this necessity: when the drain is opened, water displaces the sewer gas up to the sanitary tee, the water flows downward while sewer gas is displaced upward and toward the vent. The vent can also provide air to fill any vacuum created.
The key to a functional island fixture vent is that the top elbow must be at least as high as the 'flood level' (the peak possible drain water level in the sink). This ensures that the vent never becomes waterlogged.
The cost of installation is high because of the number of elbows and small pieces of pipe required. The largest cost outlay with modern plastic drain pipes is labor. Use of street elbows is helpful.
Alternately if moving sink to an island sink, install the P-trap below the floor of the island and vent off the top of the drain. Attach toward the trap and reverse 180 degrees so any water in the vent flows down the drain. Slope drain down, slope vent up, and attach to existing vent from previous existing fixture that is now abandoned. Patch previously existing drain to become vent. In Canada, the national plumbing code requires that the minimum trap arm be at least 2 times the pipe diameter, (e.g., 1.25 inch pipe needs a 2.5-inch trap arm, 1.5 pipe needs a 3-inch trap arm, etc.) and that the vent pipe be one size larger than the drain that it serves, also a cleanout is required on both the vent and the drain. The reason for this is in the event of a plugged sink, the waste water will back up and go down the vent, possibly plugging the vent (as it is under the countertop), and a clean-out would permit the cleaning of the pipes.
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Drainage and venting systems require not only pipe, but also many specialized fittings which add considerably to their cost of construction. Special access fittings such as 'clean-outs' enhance the long-term maintainability of the systems, and are required by most plumbing codes.
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One of the most complex aspects of construction is designing a plumbing system for a building. A plumbing system delivers potable hot and cold water to the home, while safely removing waste water and venting the waste system to remove gases and wastewater odors from the home.
Shut off valves allow for uninterrupted supply during repairs, which is why each fixture that uses water requires one. It allows individual units to be shut down without affecting the plumbing system as a whole.
Thirty or more years ago, household plumbing systems used metal piping, but in modern buildings, we use cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), polybutylene (PB) or plastic piping for supply lines. Black ABS plastic or white PVC is mostly used for drain lines.
How to Design Your Plumbing System
This is the system professional plumbing designers use when installing plumbing in a new building.
Step 1. Find the best place to install the main stack. A main stack is a 3-4 inch diameter pipe which passes through the house, running from the basement up the roof. Each of the parts has an important function:
Venting helps to equalize the systemâs pressure.
The size of the drain pipe will depend on the distance of the fixture to the main stack. If a fixture is located a significant distance from the main stack, it will have a separate stack that rises to the top, and it will join the lower part of the main stack below.
Step 2. Install the vents and drains. Approximately one-and-a-half or two inches in diameter, drain pipes should slant a quarter of an inch per foot in order to drain well, and it must have smooth bends. Sharp angles will cause frequent clogs.
All fixtures, apart from toilets, must have traps. Toilets already have built in traps. A trap is the u-shaped pipe below fixtures, such as the basin. A small amount of water remains trapped in the bend, which keeps odors and gases from entering the home.
If a fixture is within less than five feet from the main stack and it is connected with a 2â³ pipe or larger, it can be wet vented. This means that the pipe is big enough to allow both air and water to circulate simultaneously. If the bathroom is a greater distance from the pipe, an extra pipe must be added to the venting system and the venting section of the main stack.
Step 3. You will have to submit a rough in plumbing diagrams, which the building inspector will assess in terms of the building codes.
Once your drainage system is designed, it is time to design your plumbing system for fresh water supply. This starts with the placement of your hot water heater. Once you have determined the routes of each of the pipes, you will have to run your pipes to each grouping of fixtures.
Finally, you will install the final runs from the rough-in supply pipes to each individual fixture.
Naturally, itâs much more time consuming and complex than what this guide tells you. Thatâs why it is important to hire a professional plumber to install your plumbing system.Angry0AngryCry0CryCute0Cute
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