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Outdoor shower questions?

Posted by mar424 (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 24, 07 at 1:30

We are wanting to put in an outdoor shower with hot and cold water. We would use it for rinsing off sand after being at the beach. Our house is a small street (maybe 12 ft.) away from the beach access. Would like a shower head up high and also a lower head to wash off feet. Would like an off valve inside the house to shut off the water when we wouldn't be using it. Have seen too many people coming off the beach and using neighbors hoses etc.

We do have a spigot on the inside of our garage that has a hose hooked up to it now. We thought the connection could be to that - punching a hole through the cement blocks. But, since the water heater and propane gas tank is on the opposite sides of the house, we have to think of another way to hook up hot water.

Wondered about a small hot water tank? Maybe a 6 gallon or so? Or should we consider a tankless heater? Saw something about a solar shower.

Thanks for any help you can give.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

The least expensive route is to bring hot and cold pipes to the spot where you want to have this shower unit. Six gallon water tanks are fine for an industrial unit that only needs hot water for a sink. It would run out of hot water very quickly for shower use.

Tankless would work but you need to check the price. I think that alone would change your mind plus the cost of running a propane and electrical line to it adds even more cost.

Solar requires a panel on the roof and will provide super hot water for a minute and then cool off quickly as the shower time increases. Without a holding tank to stabilize the water temp, it wouldn't be my choice and those panels are not inexpensive.

Working with your existing water heater and plumbing is the least complicated way to do this. Even if you have to run these pipes from the other side of the house, it's still the better way. If this is a seasonal shower, then set it up so that the lines can be blown out with compressed air if you have a sub-freezing cold season to deal with. The lines could come from two shut-offs inside the house, through the wall and down to the ground. Bury them six inches below grade all the way around to where the shower is and then bring them back up to the shower control valve.

This is a perfect application for PEX pipe, IMO, because all the pipe running down the side of the house and underground won't need any soldering. It's almost like running garden hose.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Sorry, have been away.

Thanks so much for the much needed info. We are now thinking about a 20 gallon tank, close to where the pipes will go out of the house. We would turn it on when we go over to the beach and then after use, turn it off. This way we won't use up all of our house tank for when we all go in to shower.

You were correct on the tankless water heaters being expensive.

Another question: should the outside pipe for the shower be copper or something else? I know you mentioned PEX pipe, is that what we should use for the actual shower pipe along the wall?
Thanks!


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Going with PEX is like going with a garden hose cut to length. You put a fitting on each end only. No cutting, no cleaning, no soldering etc. Just one continuous run of PEX for the hot and another for the cold. Makes life simple for all the plumbing on the exterior. The only copper/solder work will be at the shower valve for the outdoor shower stall and whatever you need to do inside the house to provide water to the PEX pipe.

If your existing water heater has decent recovery, then it should handle the outdoor shower with no problem and you will still have hot water for indoor showering as well. It's not just the cost of the extra tank but you have to run a separate, dedicated hydro service to it, provide real estate for this tank to occupy, provide a place for the pressure valve to drain to should it open up and the extra pipe/fittings/labour to install it.

But.........it's your dime.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

We're also planning on putting in an outdoor shower with hot/cold water, but for our pool. I think we're also using PEX (is that the brown hose our irrigation guy has been running?) We're going with a tankless hot water heater (I think the Takagi Jr), but my question regards the hardware - the shower head and controls. Can we buy any shower head and control? Should it be made of stainless steel or brass? Does the finish matter to withstand the weather? We live in Maryland, so we do get freezing weather. Since we still have little ones, I want to get one of those handheld shower things so they don't get sprayed in the face when rinsing off, but it seems most of these units come with the shower head AND the handheld shower with the faucet control. Can I just install the handheld with some kind of wall bracket and use the control with the set? Will any combination work with the PEX?


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

You can use any showerset you want with PEX pipe. As far as finish is concerned, you can use chrome, stainless or brass. For sure, stainless will hold up better than the other two but with a bit of care, the other two will also be OK.

What's important is that you plumb it so that the entire system that is outside can be totally drained prior to winter. Use compressed air to blow the system out or inject RV anti-freeze into the pipes. You don't have to use a showerhead if you prefer not to. Just install the handheld unit directly to the shower arm and then put a vertical rod with and adjustable bracket to receive the handheld unit. That way, the handheld will also act like a fixed shower head when you want it to.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

I would install one of these on the house and put together a shower that hose connection to this hose bibb. Winterizing will not be a problem just disconnect and put away the shower. The hose bibb is frost proof!

Here is a link that might be useful: moen hot/cold sillcock


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Thanks for the help, Castoff. I was completely lost as to what to look for. The handheld with a vertical rod would be a perfect combination. So, I need to purchase 1) a shower arm, 2) a handheld shower, 3) a vertical rod with adjustable bracket and 4) hot/cold control thingie (sorry - not sure what it's called!). Is it easier for installation to get the hot/cold control that dials around, or with separate hot/cold faucets? Our irrigation guy is installing the shower, and although he seems pretty knowledgeable, I'm trying to keep things fairly straightforward.

Our irrigation guy said he would blow out the shower when they blow out our sprinkler system every fall. Although, Redwood39, that Moen unit might be a good thing in case he forgets. I'm pretty sure outdoor showers are not part of our irrigation guy's fall regimen. Thanks for the link, Redwood. Do you think he would be able to connect any shower unit I purchase to this sillcock? (As you can, I am completely clueless about plumbing).


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Yes, all you need is the shower valve, a length of copper 1/2" pipe going vertical to an eared transition elbow from that shower valve, a shower arm screwed into that elbow and the hand-held shower wand screwed onto the shower arm.

The PEX pipe coming from the house will attach to transition fittings soldered to the mixing valve. You can use individual 1/4 turn frost-type sillcocks coming through the house wall to supply hot and cold to the PEX if you wish but these just complicate the transition to the PEX. I would just install 1/2" ball-type valves with bleed screws on them, inside the house and then come downward and then out through the house wall with copper to a 1/2" copper coupling. That way, the coupling can be undone at the end of the season and the irrigation guy can blow out each line with ease.

Just open the bleed screws on the valves inside the house and any water in the pipe after the valve will drain out via gravity. The lines coming from those shutoff valves inside the house must be installed so that they will self-drain via gravity if possible. If not, then you will have to stick a pot under the bleed screws when you open them up because the water still in the pipe will flow out of them instead of going the other way.

If the couplings are installed so that the hot is different than the cold, then the hot/cold won't be connected incorrectly in the spring. If you look at a coupling, you will understand what I mean because the rotating nut is on one side of the coupling unit. Have him flip one of the couplings opposite to the other.

The Moen sillcock unit mentioned by redwood won't do you any good if your shower unit isn't in the same location. That sillcock is a hot/cold mixing valve. It might be kind of em-bare-assing to run from the shower to wherever the sillcock is, in order to adjust the water temp. Also, there would be no point in having a shower valve in the shower stall because that sillcock delivers mixed hot/cold water through a single line.

The single handle mixing valve requires only one large hole vs two smaller holes for the valve with individual hot/cold taps. Don't worry about what's good for the irrigation dude. Choose what's best for your needs. If I was doing this shower for my family, I would choose a single-handle mixing valve, preferably Moen.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

My house is 4 blocks from the beach, and we are getting ready to do the same thing. Since we are building an addition right now, it should not be too hard to build a conventional outdoor shower.

However, I grew up in North Carolina, and my father and my father in law both made their own outdoor showers at their beach houses. (My father is a WWII veteran, and graduated from college in 1949 with an engineering degree. He does not believe in wasting money or energy.) For the hot water tank, all they did was get an old discarded hot water heater tank. I think they took the exterior off and just used the liner. Then, they would paint the liner black and it sat in the sun to heat the water. Many people around us had this same set up. After they would see his, they would go make their own! I do not know if this appeals to you, or you are looking for something nicer, but we loved them. They were used every day, and it helped keep us from running out of hot water inside the house.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Im installing an outdoor shower with hot and cold water. Should I use 3/4 or 1/2 inch pvc pipe? I know the 3/4 will be stronger but does it matter?


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

It depends how long the pipe is but, with a 2.5 GPM shower head and the H/C being used at a 70/30 mix, I'm sure 1/2" is more than adequete for up to 100'.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

I want to install an outdoor shower that drains into the sewer line. How do you keep the beach sand out of the drain? Is there a way to filter this? Do you have to build a basin for the water to flow over so the sand can settle out before going down the drain?


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

That's the problem with CBS on slab construction. We actually run pex through the attic for jobs like these.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

Outdoor showers and what to do with the drain is always an issue. Some people just have a wood grate or something to stand on and let the water flow into the grass. The problem with connecting to the sewer is you have to make sure the shower has a roof because most areas do not allow rain to enter the sewer system. You also have sand issues to think about. Depending on the slope of the ground you may connect a pipe to shower drain and run it 10-20' and let it discharge into the yard or a ditch.


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RE: Outdoor shower questions?

I've seen the suggestion of using PEX throughout this thread and didn't notice anyone mentioning that it would need to be protected from direct sunlight due to UV. If you go the PEX route, don't forget to cover it all up.

Personally, I would go with the Moen sillcock and connect it to a handheld shower fixture. Simple and cheap.


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