32

Here is what I see inside the hole

enter image description here

My landlord said is ok. But I think water going directly to wall can't be a good idea.

My question is how bad is it? Needs fixing right away?

If needs fixing, how can I fix. The side of the bathtub is sealed and I have no access to the bottom of the bathtub.

Thanks

Update: Finally they figured out this is not normal. Basically all the pipes below the bathtube fell down. They said the screw got loose and fell. The bath has other half ass fixes, which I guess are from previous tenant. To fix they had to open the wall on the side of the bath (thank god the tile can easily come up without breaking it) and they replaced with some custom pipes (different than original). I'm not sure if it works, but it should!

  • 8
    You actually showed these pics to your landlord (or he saw it himself) and he said this is ok??!?! – brhans Jan 16 at 15:03
  • 10
    Is it draining into some kind of basin where the water is then pumped out? What country is this in? – JPhi1618 Jan 16 at 15:05
  • 12
    I agree with jphi1618 it looks like there is a pump there. I would not want that setup at my home but since it’s not yours and the landlord said it was ok you really shouldn’t touch it , if you do and something breaks or just happens to quit working the landlord can go after you for the repair. – Ed Beal Jan 16 at 16:35
  • 14
    I'd never use it, out of fear it would back up and some terrifying creature would crawl out of the drain... – Redwolf Programs Jan 17 at 2:40
  • 10
    I am confused. The title and your question says it is draining "into the wall". But the pictures appear to show it draining into a space under the floor. Can you clarify? – Michael Jan 17 at 18:49
52

OK I am going to answer this like you are in the US. It doesn't differ much but to give a baseline.

To sum it up - This is F'ing crazy as hell, unsanitary, and not code.

So it looks like there is a basin siphoned off from the foundation that drains to a sump pump and the pump pushes water to... who the hell knows (it doesn't matter).

Issues:

  1. If there is a floor (basement) below the tub then a lot of water could eventually cause a leak into the adjoining wall.

  2. If the pump stops working or gets clogged you have a backfill of sewage.

  3. Yep I said sewage. Bathtub drain off is sewage not soapy water. There is pee and feces that goes down that drain too. You aren't taking showers before you shower.

  4. Eventually mold will start growing. It looks like whoever created this mess did it probably in a smart mcgyver type of way - the materials look to be stone/organic that resist mold. It can't last like this forever because eventually your hair and other things will get down there, create a spot for mold to grow and it will.

  5. Plumbing like this would certainly void any insurance in almost all areas of the world. If something happened your insurance wouldn't cover it for sure.

Final thoughts... This is just weird. I have seen things like this in France but they were installed WWIIish. Everything you are showing, shows new materials from the past 30 years. That makes it really weird. Also the tub seems rather elevated. Which makes it even weirder. Why exit like this when they are for sure going to go downhill to the main branch?

Also my answer isn't meant to scare you or cause you to react drastically. This could function for quite some time. It might not be completely sanitary (you have fecal matter right below you) but a shower with low usage - a shower a day... This thing could work for years until the pump goes out, gets clogged or the wetness effects foundation pieces.

And to clarify - YOU cannot fix this. Your landlord needs to run the shower drain to the main stack so that this can exit with the rest of the sewage from your house.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 10
    Regarding #4, there's already a lot of hair in there. It's pretty surprising that the pump still works. (Also, I find it very fitting that your avatar is a similarly ingenious plumbing solution. :-)) – TooTea Jan 16 at 20:00
  • 8
    @TooTea - I could be wrong but that looks like a weed net used in gardening. I am guessing it was used to catch hair and things so sump pump doesn't get it. It is funny that someone spent that much time doing something correctly that is so wrong. Whoever devised this gets an A+ for effort. If someone said "You aren't allowed to connect a shower to a sewage line" - this is a damn good way of doing it. – DMoore Jan 16 at 20:37
  • 5
    "Bathtub drain off is sewage not soapy water." IIRC it's grey water, not black water. The two are very different. – nick012000 Jan 18 at 3:47
  • @DMoore regarding #5 renters insurance would actually most likely cover it if the problem is due to negligence on the part of the landlord, if for example this was also being done in an adjoining area and the water from that other area damaged your property. Comparably, it is the same as how a person can damage your car due to out of negligence not clean their window properly and rear end you as a result. Your insurance would likely still cover you. The insurance would then go after that person or their insurance for the cost of the repairs. – user64742 Jan 18 at 18:46
  • Whether someone using that shower is then at fault as well for damage is another issue entirely. My guess there is that unless they see the beginning of damage and continue to use the shower, then no because it is already a "functioning" system and therefore there is at least the expectation that using it won't flood the dwelling space. The landlord is probably not covered though by his insurance, since it is negligence on his part. I doubt it's a legal requirement for the renter to question whether a particular setup is legal or up to code unless they see active damage occurring. – user64742 Jan 18 at 18:48
15

I'd be tempted to poke that large white fitting on a piece of flexi hose with a stick o see if it's really a trap that is meant to be screwed to the bottom of the bath drain. It's hard to tell for sure, but that long dip tube on the plug hole fitment looks like it's meant to be screwed into something and my betting is that the 'something' fell off when someone unscrewed the plug hole fitment and ended upside-down in a hole in the floor structure.

What's down there is not luted properly, it's just mortared blockwork. Some of the water may end up going down the drain if the well fills up enough to strike a syphon through the white thing into the flexi hose and down the drain.

If it really was designed that way, why is there another drain pipe going down into the sump and striking off to the upper right instead of just emptying in the sump?

I suspect the landlord doesn't understand what is happening and doesn't realise that a lot of the bath water is soaking into the structure of the house carrying soap, salts and other effluents into the structure. That or he doesn't care, he's getting money from you in rent and is saving the cost of investigating and fixing what is going to cause big issues in the future.

|improve this answer|||||
  • That flex-tube is rather large. That is going to be much bigger than the standard plug size and drain output for a tub. I mean it could have an adapter as anything goes for this but I am doubting it. Also the flex-tube would not be wrapped under the sump pump if it connected to the tub. This does look like your standard 1 1/4" discharge hose (way to big to be tub drainage) - homedepot.com/p/… – DMoore Jan 17 at 14:42
  • In the UK 40mm drain is the standard size for tub(bath) drains... 32mm is typically used for hand basins. I was going on the diameter of the flexi hose being about the same as the rigid white pipe which to my eyes is not big enough to be a 4 inch drain pipe. (UK uses mixed units... 40mm is 1.5 inch nominal I think). It would be nice to know where the pipes go to... some pictures taken with the camera angled through the hole or with a mirror would perhaps help show where they go. Also knowing what that rigid pipe connects to under the tub would be useful. As would the country it relates to – houninym Jan 17 at 14:59
  • Yes I would like to see additional pictures too. If the drain was ever attached we should see a shaft, trap and a slide connector. Since none of those pieces exist I don't know what to think. Definitely one of the most interesting questions we have had on DIY with photos. – DMoore Jan 17 at 16:49
  • I was thinking that the large white thing might be the bottom of the trap, that it fell open side down, that it originally screwed onto the bit that's photographed lying in the bath and there was no slide connector at all... that the trap sealed to the bottom of the bath. – houninym Jan 17 at 17:05
  • @houninym, I think you're right. It looks like the end of the flexi-tube that's going off to the right of the last image was likely to act as some sort of trap connected to the bottom of that short piece of straight pipe from the first image. It probably fell off causing the leak we can see evidence of. – coblr Jan 17 at 20:59
11

Your bathtub drains directly into a concrete sump pit; not "the wall" as such but a pit constructed for this purpose. In the US and Canada, open sumps are used only for groundwater, like from drains that prevent basement floording. It kinda looks like someone wanted to put a bathroom into a basement, cheap, and came up with the horrific but clever idea to just put the tub over an existing groundwater sump.

First thing you should do is figure out what else drains into it. If it's just the tub and a nearby sink, you'd call it a "grey" water sump. By US and Canada code, this is really wrong. There are parts of the world with, well, different plumbing codes so I can't say if this is crazy wrong where you are. If it's only greywater involved, it's not necessarily an immediate health hazard.

If a toilet drains into it, it's "black" water, your apartment must reek something awful, and really I think you should consider the place unlivable. I can't imagine it's acceptable anywhere on the planet to live in a place with an open sewer pit.

There is no "fix" other than to gut the bathroom and, at significant expense and disruption, dig up the floor and install a proper closed sump. Your landlord will already have considered this and you can see he opted as he did.

Good luck.

Note added later: is there any other access into that pit? a hatch or door or something? That plastic sump pump is not going to last forever, and it surely isn't going to be removed and replaced via the bathtub drain hole. If there's no other access, then I take back the "clever" part of my comment above; this is just horrific.

|improve this answer|||||
9

You definitely shouldn't fix this yourself if you are renting and the landlord said it's good like this.

But if you live in a place with sufficient regulation in the housing/renting market you can probably force you landlord to have it fixed for you.

I bet this smells bad. Where I live a bad smell would be enough to be able to claw back some of the rent - just a couple of percent probably, but enough to make it worthwhile for the landlord to fix it. If for some miracoulous reason it doesn't smell bad, make a point to pee in the shower a couple of times and it will start to smell so you can demonstrate it to the landlord.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 2
    Not exactly a diy answer, but it answers the question in my opinion. – Nobody Jan 17 at 15:02
  • 14
    the pee part is diy... – dandavis Jan 17 at 18:07
3

Yes it most definitely is a problem. Along with all the structural problems that will result from this (which you may not care about since you will likely be long gone by the time it collapses, but your landlord should) there is the problem of mold and insects. Without a trap, lots of insects will take up residence down there happily munching up all the hair and skin and other bits that end up in that cavity, and will come and go as they please through the drain pipe. Mold will grow and the spores will spread out of there and into your lungs. Black mold can make you very, very sick.

This is not an easy fix, and not something that a renter should have to deal with. The tub has to come out, and a proper drain put in place. It needs to have a trap, and it needs to be properly vented into the main stack, otherwise it will not drain well.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.