Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Best Shower in the World

Picture credit belongs to my dad, Fred Alderman. Thanks, Dad. We could not find our pictures so Dad pitched in and did his part.

You see the picture. You may be thinking that the itty bitty bathroom was not so bad when you see the picture above of our outdoor shower.
You might be wrong - well maybe.

It may not be pretty but it worked really well and we had hot water, and it was summer and early fall when we were using it.

We looked at plans for a lot of outdoor showers and they were all very beautiful and dignified. They were also permanent. We needed temporary and we needed it fairly quickly.

We have taken a lot of ribbing about our outdoor shower but there are times we have considered putting in one of those dignified permanent showers when everything else is done. Why, you ask?

Because there is something utterly pleasing about taking an outdoor shower on a brilliant summer day with a slight breeze blowing against your skin.

However, let me also say that when you must take a shower and there is a thunderstorm going on or it is night and you smell the powerful odor of a nearby skunk and you have forgotten your glasses, well, those are the not such nice experiences. Or, when you are standing out there in your birthday suit and the neighbor comes riding around his field closest to your property on his tractor and you find yourself huddling in the farthest corner (if that can even be done) of the shower so as not to be observed, well, that's not such a great time to be showering outside either.

How we did it

Dave is ever resourceful. I must say that. He keeps things around sometimes and I do not know why. Now I know.

To build the shower, Dave bought from Lowe's:
2 4' x 8' sections of Spruce Rustic Stockade Fence at a cost of $44.78.
4 Tan Landscape Blocks at a cost of $7.96
1 roll of 1/2" x 100' of pex piping/tubing at $25.97
6 miscellaneous push couplings (see note) $29.13

Note: Dave used the push couplings but they were extremely tedious to work with. He prefers using the Shark Bites and says, "they are nice." He also said to tell the readers "The difference is Lowe's sells the cheap push couplings and Home Depot sells the better Shark Bites," which are what we used later on. Dave also stated that both options should be used in temporary situations, only. He says he would never use either option behind an enclosed wall.
The rest of the story
There are obviously more parts to this cute little shower than the parts we purchased. That's where we reused material.
We used the same hot and cold dials and the shower head from the house shower in the itty bitty bathroom. We also used the shower pan for the base of our shower and the drain hardware.
Here's how Dave did it
The fencing was cut to fit around three sides of the shower base (32" square). We did not put a door on the shower because it faced a field and woods.
Dave laid a base of pressure-treated 2" x 6" pieces, laid flat. The four blocks went on that and then the shower base sat on that. He attached the fencing to the wooden base. He used 3" decking screws to attach the sides to each other. He then cut the holes in the fencing and when he removed the piping from the old bath he just cut some of the piping along with it and poked the stuff through. We (notice I said we) connected the Pex tubing to it (hot and cold) and ran the tubing.
Dave just asked me if I ever saw deer out in the field. I said no. I just saw Harry. LOL. Harry was our neighbor that came by on the tractor one afternoon. Figures.
To drain the gray water from the shower we simply attached a couple of old pieces of gutter from the house to the drain hole beneath the shower pan and ran it out to the back yard. The only problem we ever had with that is we occassionally got a chipmunk in the gutter. Easy to fix. Run the water and the chipmunk comes tumbling out and runs away.
The Pex was run around the house, tucked up close to not get caught in the mower, and then fed into a basement window to be hooked up.
Preplanning for this hookup
When Dave cut the pipes in the basement to the hot and cold water, he cut them about 8" or so away from the shutoff valves and then we connected the Pex to those. That way, if we needed to shut off the water to the shower, we could without shutting off the water to the entire house.
What was difficult
I think the hardest part of all this is we really needed a shower. Trust me. We really needed it. The hookup of this shower took longer than planned (and it always does). It got to be dark and we were hooking this up, outside at night at 11:30 PM with a flashlight. I kid you not. The snarky couplings (see above) kept leaking. To get to the window where the Pex was coming in, Dave had to keep climbing in and out of the cistern (now empty). Right near the end he was in the very far corner of the cistern and the bulb on his flashlight went out. We were so exhausted but we had a shower.
Note: You see a bungy cord in the picture, appearing to hold the sides of the shower together. That was simply a precausion because we experienced some high winds. But, that shower held up and held well. A job well worth the effort.

1. If you are going to do a major demo like this, or if you are going to do a big bath remodel and it's summertime, we urge you to consider a simple shower like this. It was amazingly wonderful to be able to clean off after a hard day gutting the house. We got filthy. We also rinsed off all our equipment (hard hats, respirators, goggles, etc.) in the shower.
2. Get the Shark Bites.
3. Have a runner or a buddy with you if you are working like this and especially if you are tired. Better yet, if you can, wait for another day and get some rest.

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