How to Install Shower Plumbing

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Even if the plumbing in your bathroom was not originally designed to support a shower, it is still possible to install shower plumbing. For the purpose of this article, were are going to assume that you were able to purchase riser pipe for shower plumbing in the dimension and width you needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Hammer, Nail gun, or electric drill
  • Nails or screws
  • Power Saws (for cutting holes and pieces of wood)
  • Pipe cutter, hacksaw, or other tool that will cut pipe
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flat-head or Phillip’s-head screwdriver
  • Caulking
  • Plastic pipe that can be used for plumbing purposes; different types, sizes, and shapes of pipe fittings. (Even if you don’t use everything you buy, if you buy several different ones, you will eliminate unnecessary trips back to the hardware or plumbing supply store.)
  • Riser pipe in the appropriate length and width (usually one-half inch in diameter by thirty-four inches high) (See TIPS for more information)
  • Solvent cement

How to Install Shower Plumbing

  • Find out if you will need to apply for any building permits since you are making changes to existing plumbing, and get any permits that you may need.

  • Turn off the water supply. (You will probably have to shut the water off to the entire house.)

  • Open any faucets that are located anywhere in the bathroom and allow the water to drain from the pipes. This will give you a dry work area.

  • Find out where existing drain and water pipes to the bathroom are located. If you already have a bathtub present in your bathtub, you can assume that they’re going to be somewhere close to that.

  • Expose the existing plumbing that is in the flooring and behind the wall by cutting into and/or through those areas.

  • Locate the hot and cold water pipe, and gain access to them by using your pipe-cutting tool or hacksaw.

  • Use the “t” fitting as a placement tool to mark where the water line will need to be taken out to accommodate the additional pipe pieces you will be installing, and cut the section(s) out.

  • Clean and smooth the cut ends of the pipes thoroughly.

  • Measure the amount of plastic pipe you will need to run water lines from where you tapped into the water source to where you will be installing your shower plumbing. CAREFULLY cut the plastic pipe, using a fine-toothed saw or hacksaw, to the lengths you will need.

  • Repeat Step 7 as often as necessary until you have all the pipe cut that you will need.

  • Apply the solvent cement onto the pipe end(s) and fitting(s) with a brush. Use a LOT of solvent cement on the pipe end(s); a little less on the fitting(s). Make sure, however, that all surfaces of the pipe end(s) and fitting(s) are thoroughly covered. Immediately join the pipe end(s) and fitting(s). When you do, give them a little twist. This will ensure you get a tight fit.

  • Install the drain pipes. Make sure you are in compliance with all local building codes regarding how much distance must be between p-traps and vents. Also remember that vents can only run straight up and down until reaching the overflow valves of the pipes that they are attached to, before they can go either up and down or side to side.

  • Install any necessary lengths of pipe between the drain pipe and where it will join with the riser pipe. (see TIPS for more information)

  • Install the riser pipe, either following any instructions that came with the pipe OR by simply fitting the end of the pipe that is meant to be joined with the pipe that provides the water supply to the shower. (See TIPS for more information).

  • Use pipe fittings that curve at a 90-degree angle to bring the pipe through the wall and out to where it will connect with the shower faucets, head, and other fixtures.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is possible to purchase riser pipe in various dimensions and lengths that will match what you need for your shower plumbing. If you can find riser pipe, by all means purchase it. This will be less pipe that you have to cut and fit together.
  • Solvent cement oozing out of the pipe end(s) is a GOOD thing. This will tell you for sure you have used enough solvent cement. You may wish to leave the extra solvent cement right where it is, or you can wipe some of it away. But, leave a little bit, enough to make a thin layer.
  • Plastic pipe is easier to work with; however, it may not be able to accommodate a lot of water pressure like pipe made of heavier material could. So, you may find yourself sacrificing a little water pressure to avoid having to deal with bursting pipes.
  • You can’t “undo” pipes and fittings once the solvent cement has been applied and dries (and it dries FAST). Make sure you are ready to join those pipe ends and fittings BEFORE you even start to bring them together.
  • Solvent cement fumes are strong, and can make you sick if you breathe them for an extended period of time. Try not to breathe them at all, by wearing a face mask that will filter odors.
  • Pipe cutting tools, even fine-toothed saws, can be sharp and cause severe injury. Use them CAREFULLY!
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