What I'm Seeing Now


The Shower Drain That Doesn't Exist

The shower drain that doesn't exist.

I have seen this before.  People who don't pull permits to do "improvements" and try to sneak a fast one on an unsuspecting buyer.

Seeing this new shower I was immediately suspicious.

Why?  Because this model house, built in this area in the late 60s and early 70s, always has a powder room in this location.

Seeing it and seeing where the new shower was placed really got my Spidey Sense tingling.

The main drain stack could be seen beside the framing in the furnace room, as well as the drainage vent stack which proceeded from there to exhaust sewer gases through the roof.

So I began looking for clues.

1.  No aspect of the slab had been removed to connect the shower drain you see to either of those stacks.

2.  When the water drained I could not hear the familiar sound of air moving as the vent does what it is supposed to do during drainage.

3.  Looking into the drain hole I could not see water, which would be present had a trap been in place beneath the drain hole.

4.  If there was no trap sewer gas would have been noticed and I smelled no sewer gas.

So I looked closer into the hole!

What did I spy with my little eye?

The white connection beneath the hole which is a protruding part of the plastic pan to allow connection to the drain line beneath the shower.

But deeper down beneath it that protruding drain tube was connected to ...  wait for it ...


There could be no water in the trap because there was no trap!

What did I see?  What did my client (a plumber) and the agent see?

Dirt, along with rubble from broken concrete.  Not so visible in this photo all that was clearly visible to the naked eye.

The installer broke out an opening in the slab and dug a hole under the slab into which the shower was draining!

The shower water drained into the earth beneath the house!  Back into the ground to restock the water table!

That may be code in other areas of the world, BUT NOT HERE!

Don't get me started with this - I won't say what I'm thinking.

My recommendation:  just because you see a new anything does not mean it is correct.   Every time I see new work I recommend to my clients that they check to make sure there was a permit pulled and closed by the local jurisdiction.   The word "closed" means the local jurisdiction looked at the permitted work and approved it.   When a home inspector gets a sense about something, allow him the leeway to line up and inspect the clues surrounding the work to see how professional it is.  When it is not he will tell you!  His job is to observe and report.  And rest assured the shower you see here was reported to this home inspector's client!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 17 commentsJay Markanich • November 03 2017 11:00AM
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