Can you relocate plumbing drain pipes in a concrete slab?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ February 11, 2012 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

Our home is on a concrete slab and we want to change the floor plan. We would like to relocate the shower and the washer/dryer to new locations, but don't know if this is possible? Can we relocate plumbing drain pipes that are currently fixed in the concrete slab? What other obstacles are there to this type of remodeling project? Thanks!

Betsy ~ Killen, AL

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Betsy. Under slab plumbing lines can be moved, but when it's done in a finished space, the can be very dirty and somewhat expensive. I say finished space because if you are moving the lines in a concrete slab located in an unfinished basement, the job can still be major, but the dust and debris created are usually not a large concern.

There are a few issues that can affect the scope of your job and how much budget should be allowed. In most cases, a home constructed on a concrete slab has the main water line entering from the exterior the below the slab and then it comes up in a utility or laundry room. The supply lines for the rest of the house are then located in the walls and ceilings. That means that you shouldn't have to do any under-slab work on supply lines while moving the laundry and shower.

The second issue that's of importance is where your new locations for the laundry and shower are in relation to the drain pipes that are already under the home. Drain pipes need slope or "fall" to work properly -- if the new locations are too far away from where the drain lines enter your home, it may not be possible to achieve enough fall. However, if you are moving closer to that entry location, there shouldn't be a problem with making the fall work.

Moving the shower and laundry will entail cutting up the concrete slab at the new locations and extending trenches in the concrete far enough to tie into the existing drain pipes. This normally involves using a concrete saw, a jack-hammer, and disposal of the concrete broken up and removed. You will also need an adjacent area to temporarily store the gravel removed from the trench. Just as it sounds, this is a very dirty and labor intensive job.

You will need to remove the floor coverings in the rooms affected, move any furnishings, and should use plastic sheeting to prevent the spread of dust. New concrete will need to be poured into the trenches when the relocation is complete.

Check with your building inspection office in Killen, Alabama as most jurisdictions require a plumbing permit and that the new drain pipes be inspected prior to being covered up. Even if an inspection isn't needed, you should still hire a plumbing contractor for this project. They can ensure the job is done correctly as the last thing you want is to have to cut up the concrete again due to a leak or blockage. A plumbing contractor can also use a camera to get an approximate location of the existing drain lines which can make the job much easier.

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