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analogmusicman 04-24-2008 11:07 PM

toilet drain under the concrete floor
when someone is called in to install a toilet in a basement, I know some concrete demolition and digging will be involved to get a drain for the toilet. my question is simply, how does the plumber know where to dig? does the city or county maintain some microfilm of houseplans? take my house for instance: I thought I had a pretty good idea of where the pipes were under the concrete but now I'm not so sure. it could end up being expensive to be wrong.


Ron The Plumber 04-25-2008 08:29 AM

The maindrain will 99% of the time once it entire the floor of a basement turn and head towards the city sewer in a direct path. Knowing where the city sewer runs is vital on guessing.

Termite 04-25-2008 09:38 AM

Your local city probably has fairly recent plans archived, but in my experience that won't do you any good. Only the largest high-end homes' plans occasionaly have plumbing diagrams with them, and even then, the chance that the plumber follows them to the letter when routing his pipe is slim to none. The jursidiction I work in is nothing but high-end homes ($1.5 million and up) and I rarely see rough plumbing schematics.

A competent plumber can look around and normally get a pretty good idea of where it might be. Once he locates the main drain, which is pretty easy, you can put the toilet wherever the two of you deem appropriate.

analogmusicman 04-25-2008 03:41 PM

there is a floor drain in the furnace room. could that be a point of reference in locating the main drain?


Termite 04-25-2008 10:16 PM

Not likely. Floor drains are often a good distance from the main drain.

Seriously, I wouldn't sweat this too hard. Your plumber will likely be able to take a look around and narrow this down for you in short order.

Termite 04-25-2008 10:19 PM

Unless your house is really old or really screwy, you should have a cleanout in the basement floor near the foundation wall where the main building drain heads out to the sewer. Should be 3" or 4" white PVC or black ABS plastic.

plumber Jim 04-26-2008 11:28 PM

You could just put a locator in through the cleanout or other access point and locate it, I do it all the time.

analogmusicman 04-26-2008 11:32 PM

so, what's a "locator"? sounds interresting!


plumber Jim 04-27-2008 11:55 AM

Its a tool used by plumbers to find pipes.

You would need to find a local plumber or locator company to come and do it for you.

analogmusicman 04-27-2008 01:09 PM

just to satisfy my curiosity: that floor drain I floor drains have some sort of "P-trap" below the concrete? that would seem to be necessary to keep sewer gas out of the house,right? I would imagine that a floor drain thats NEVER used so that "P-trap" doesn't have any water in it would be the source if your house starts to stink. is this just a bunch of "gas" on my part?:wink:


Termite 04-27-2008 01:26 PM

The floor drain should have a trap underneath it. If you pull the cover off the drain, there is usually a cleanout plug down in the bowl of the drain. The trap itself won't be visible though. There might even be a ping-pong type ball in there, which is a backflow device of sorts.

HVAC system condensate/humidifier drainage is usually enough to keep the trap full. Otherwise an occasional cup of water will do it.

Piedmont 04-29-2008 08:05 AM

I personally had someone with a camera & locator combo. My sewer pipe broke somewhere, to find it he shoved a camera/locator down the pipe and we watched a video camera as it travelled down till the break. He positioned the camera at the break then had it start to send out a signal. He went around with a signal receiving device walking around, then outside, and positioned it to exactly where the camera was below. He said the thing was accurate to within 1' so the break is some 6-8' down from this spot. I could not believe it as we were in the middle of my neighbors driveway!!! I later found why my pipe ran under my neighbors driveway and decided to replace the entire sewer pipe so I didn't have to deal with my neighbors or if they had any plans.

Those locators are pretty amazing, they can nearly pin-point your pipe even through 6-8 feet of dirt. You probably don't need the camera, just the locator as mentioned.

And, yes you have to periodically fill up the P-Trap as the water evaporates. Happens in particular at work here, when there's a stink in teh bathroom (not that kind of stink :) you put a cup of water down the drain in the middle of the floor. Also, houses with several bathrooms like one in the basement that isn't used will start to stink, you then have to pour water in the tub & sink to fill up their traps.

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