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Secrets of Gravity: What Your Plumbing Service Knows About Basement Bathrooms That You May Not
A basement bathroom is convenient when you’re doing the laundry nearby. It’s handy when you’ve got a family room or home theater down there. It’s also essential if you’ve got a basement bedroom, so you can avoid noisy trips up and down the stairs in the middle of the night and to provide some independence. There are some tricks to basement bathrooms, though, as your plumbing service provider will tell you. It has to do with gravity.
Why Basement Plumbing Is Different
A big part of plumbing service, the part related to drains and wastewater, involves gravity encouraging the flow of liquids and other material down the drains. Plumbing service providers carefully design pipe angles so everything is slightly downhill in the walls, then straight down through walls to the basement where they connect to the sewer line. In the basement, drain plumbing is at about the same level as your sewer line, so gravity doesn’t have the same influence on water’s motion down there.
While you don’t have all the challenges of a toilet on the space station, in the basement you do have some plumbing design issues in common with that unique environment. Somehow, you’ve got to get toilets to flush without the usual forces that the upper floors rely on for smooth sailing of sewage.
Your Plumbing Service Provider Knows Gravity
There are two keys to drains: gravity to pull the water along, and vents to break the suction created by water flow. The vents are also designed to keep sewer gas from sneaking up and creating offensive odors in your bathrooms. Your plumbing service team knows how to make sure, when they install or repair your plumbing, that they respect these elements to make sure your drains keep working correctly. It’s just part of what expert plumbers do to keep you comfortable, safe, and dry.
Several Options for Wastewater in Your Basement Plumbing
In the best case, your plumbing service provider who’s planning the job checks with local records and discovers you’ve got a sewer line that’s deep enough to provide the flow you need, even from the basement. If so, the job is similar to a regular bathroom with a few precautions since it’s closest to the sewer line. You may still want to raise the floor of the bathroom to accommodate plumbing. Cutting the concrete slab can provide access for standard plumbing, but it’s also commonly done for sewage ejector systems, which operate like a small septic tank and can pump out water from your clothes washer as well. Upflushing systems such as the Saniflo toilet also provide a way to transport sewage into your existing system using pumps and a macerating grinder instead of gravity.
Though it’s often not an elegant solution, some homeowners get the necessary elevation by raising the bathroom floor in the basement. This provides room for pipes from showers as well as toilets and sinks without cutting through the concrete. If the sewer line is low enough for proper flow, this can be a low-cost basement bathroom solution. Ask your plumber to see if this solution can meet plumbing standards and local plumbing code requirements.
Cut the Concrete
Plumbing solutions for your basement bathroom that include cutting through the slab can cost a lot. Simply running plumbing through concrete to provide access to your sewer line may be expensive but it’s straightforward. Alternative solutions involving upflushing pumps may require occasional maintenance by your plumbing service, but compared to major concrete work, they can be a cost-effective option. Cutting through to locate a sewage ejection system tank also raises the concern of future need to access the system should blockages occur from accidentally flushed items.
Here’s where the similarity to “space toilets” comes into the picture. Upflushing toilets and whole-bathroom installations receive your wastewater and other material, grind it up, and ship it upwards into your existing drain lines to be delivered to the sewer. They take gravity out of the equation until your basement bathroom’s waste enters your existing system, using a pump to raise it up to the connection. It’s an excellent solution for many homes, with a few warnings including one your plumbing service installer is sure to emphasize: these systems are organic waste only, no sanitary products or other material other than toilet paper allowed.
Backflow Worries from Outside
When you’re hooking up to the sewer line, it’s important to think about the fact that you’ve got all sorts of plumbing fixtures opening up into your basement and if your sewer line backs up due to clogs or groundwater infiltration, you’re going to have a real mess. A backflow valve is one solution to consider, providing a one-way connection to your sewer line that prevents reverse flows from reaching your basement and the rest of your home.
Backflow Worries from Upstairs
Make sure that your basement bathroom plumbing is carefully designed so that upstairs drains don’t cause backups in the basement. Your plumber can do the math to make sure that everything is flowing the right way and no unintended effects such as suction can, in the worst case, cause unintended backflow.
Making Sure Your Sewer Line Is Clean
When you install a basement bathroom, it’s important to make sure that your sewer line is clean and in good shape to avoid backflow, groundwater infiltration, and backup issues. At bluefrog, we can run a small video camera into the line and perform a careful inspection and perform hydro jetting to clear clogs or plan repairs as needed.
Count on bluefrog for Effective Basement Plumbing Installations
Our plumbing service at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain consists of a team of experienced professionals who know what challenges home and commercial plumbing can present, and they’re ready to take them on. You can rely on us for expert plumbing solutions for your basement bathroom project and much more. Give us a call.