View Full Version : Walk in shower/Wet Room and draughts!

03-04-2013, 08:40 PM
Hi :)

Having finally managed to get a bungalow (after waiting 12 years!) it's rapidly becoming a bad choice :(

It's a lot colder than our previous 3 bed semi, windows although double glazed are draughty and both the front and rear doors are very badly fitted and even with curtains hung in front of them are letting freezing cold air in. The housing association have been out and looked at the windows and said they can't do anything, supposedly are getting a new upvc back door, which due to the layout is actually right next to my bed in the rear bedroom, but they say they now used a sub-contractor (Nationwide) in Bradford (92 miles away) who will have to come out, measure up, go back to Bradford, make the door and return and fit it.

The main problem is with the bathroom, there's no bath just a shower cubicle which had an electric shower the electrician described as only being suitable for washing your hands, they did come out and replace it as it was leaking but refused to fit a larger mains cable so it's only 8.3Kw and doesn't have the power to heat sufficient water for a decent flow at higher temperatures, it may be better in the summer when the incoming water isn't as cold. However, the shower has a pump for draining the water which is horrendously noisy, it's bad enough for me but it causes major distress to my autistic son and he now has to be forced to shower.

The other problem with it are the half height doors which seal with a magnetic strip, they offer no support for me at all and I have fallen almost every time I've used the shower, there's also not enough room to use my chair so I have to stand (which almost guarantees I will fall).

We had a similar shower unit in our previous house and the housing associations own occupational therapist took one look at it and immediately had it removed and replaced with a flat floor wet room. The new housing association say they don't have an occupational therapist and I have to get my GP to sort it out, GP says nothing to do with him and to ask the council, council says they may do the work and it may or may not give me a grant but I need to have OT assessment and permission from housing association.

I've been going round in circles for 2 months and am getting nowhere, if I could afford it I'd get someone in to do it but with having to find 2 months rent while we moved (don't ask!) it's wiped out what little savings we had as well as meaning I had to take out a social fund loan.

Sorry for rambling on :(

03-05-2013, 10:06 AM
Did you visit and inspect the bungalow before accepting it? If so, a lot of Councils/Housing associations would take the view that you willingly moved into the property as it was. It's a favourite "get out" clause. If you were not asked to view before accepting, you may be in a position to argue the points mentioned. Even so, contact your local CAB, and ask for advice. With all the budget cuts etc to local councils, the amount of money for adapting/repairing properties for disabled people is getting smaller. You could try applying for a Disabled Facilities grant. I am not sure how all these things work, so maybe others can give you better advice?

03-05-2013, 11:49 AM
your local adult services should be able to help with an O.T ask at local council housing office

03-06-2013, 04:39 PM
I know exactly where you are coming from I moved from a 1 bed flat to a bungalow like you after a 13year wait, i viewed it in the summer and it seemed ok but ever since moved in especially when weather turned so bad its freezing everyroom theres drafts you block the vents and the doors but its still the same. My shower is one of the ones that have no doors on you have to pull curtain so far but it leaks over and the tiles are as slippy as hell. When i spoke to the housing they said they are double glazed so nothing can be done i got some stick on draught excluder stuff from the pound shop and put it around the windows which as helped a bit. Then in summer you get terrible time with flying ants if you have the old boiler behind wall as mine. They told me that bungalows usually got less spent on them, especially the older ones. I'm afraid we are stuck we them and the high fuel bills that come with them. I have tried looking for grants but so far all i've been told is to see if i could find a charity that would help with new doors, flooring and shower maybe you could try that you might have more luck where you are good luck

03-06-2013, 04:59 PM
I only had a few minutes to see it, we were offered it out of the blue and had to decide and sign for it there and then as there were a lot of others wanting it.

The windows and doors are double glazed but are wood and about 20 to 30 years old. I rang the housing ass. on Monday to confirm there was a new back door being fitted, nothing showing on the system and they promised to ring back (and haven't). I also rang Social Care Direct this morning and they promised to get an OT to ring me to discuss the bathroom, surprisingly they haven't rang back either :(

I'm still waiting for a care assessment for my needs, the only one I've (sort of) had is with regard to my extra needs as a full time carer looking after my son 24/7/365, that took over 4 years and a formal complaint 15 months ago, took them 9 months to come out and then nothing for almost 6 months until I complained again and again, they passed it on to my sons care coordinator to look at!. So basically the same old cr@p as usual, nothing gets done and we just carry on getting worse as we go.

03-06-2013, 11:45 PM
Hi Phaedra, I happened to stumble upon your thread concerning Direct Payments (its now closed so I am contacting you over this thread. I hope you don't mind.) I am a trainee journalist and I have been doing research into the personalisation of care - especially focusing on direct payments. I have been looking at the possible shortfalls of this service. Your story (what I read of it in that thread) is really interesting and I would be really keen to talk to you about you and your sons circumstances. Social care is an important subject to me and I really want to raise awareness to the problems people are facing. Would you be interested in talking to me?

[phone no. deleted]

03-11-2013, 09:57 AM
Update, after several more calls to the council, my housing association and SCD I have an OT coming out on Wednesday morning to look at the bathroom :)

Of course it will come down to funding so even if she says I need a wet room it could be a very long time before I get one! (looking on the dark side as usual!).

03-15-2013, 05:01 PM
Waste of time :(

Basically, as I have a shower that (just) works and I can get into (with a great deal of difficulty and pain) it's not urgent so there's nothing going to be done. Even if it was urgent there may not be any money for a grant and even if there was it could take months.

So, next time I fall trying to get in or out or when I'm trying to stand up in it (as there's barely enough room for a small stool and the grab rail is on the wrong side and height) I'll just have to remember how lucky I am that it works at all.

I can however have a raised toilet seat if that would help :(

04-10-2013, 09:31 PM
Hi Phaedra, I only waited 5 months for my bathroom to be converted to a wetroom. I contacted Adult Social Care at my local Council, OT came out to assess, and it was granted. The only reason for waiting was simply awaiting the contractor to fit me in. Having the wetroom has transformed my life, at a cost to the Council of approx £3,800 to whom I am eternally grateful.

So was is your update?

02-23-2014, 09:37 AM
Just a small update to this thread.

We've now been here for 13 months, front and back doors have been replaced by Nationwide, back door has been "adjusted" 3 times and now seals all round apart from the bottom so I've still got to put extra draught excluder on it. The front porch/entrance is still freezing even with the new door, from what the fitter told me it's because there's no cavity wall insulation in the house.

Still got the old windows which even with the vents wide open turn black with mould very quickly.

Shower is still the same, next door neighbour has made several complaints about the noise as my son will only get showered when I'm in bed out of the way so usually about 12:30am. I've told the housing association that as far as I'm concerned the noise is their problem, the shower drain pump is supposed to be speed controlled by the amount of water going through the shower, apparently nobody fitted the controller when the shower was originally installed so it runs at full speed. If they can't be bothered to fix it the neighbours will just have to put up with the noise the same as we have to :(

Other than that, it's a nice quiet area, a bit further "out in the sticks" than we were before which makes getting places more of a problem but I suppose you can't have the quiet location without that.

It's still costing more to heat than the previous house but the electricity usage is around 25% less for some reason!.

I'm still saving up to get a few things done, loft access and flooring (as we are very short of storage space), a silent shower pump! and at some point a wet room would be ideal but as it's new car time I'm having to use what we've managed to save and borrow the rest for the AP on the car.

02-23-2014, 12:11 PM
Those shower drain pumps are always noisy in my experience, though if the pump is running flat out rather than proportionally to demand, that won't help.

I'd go back to the landlord saying that you fear the neighbours' repeated complaints about the noise will escalate to a a formal complaint of noise nuisance to Environmental Health. If they make such a complaint, Environmental Health could take action against you, including imposing a requirement not to use the shower in its existing condition during the hours when people are normally asleep. Clearly, that would be incompatible with your autistic son's requirements to be undisturbed unless he can be safely left to shower whilst you go out for half an hour during the day.

Once you have put the landlord on notice, there is little you can do if they persist in failing to fit the speed controller other than waiting to see if a formal noise nuisance complaint materialises. I wouldn't expect this to make much difference if the landlord has already refused to get the pump running in proportional mode, but it might just wake them up to the need to do something.

It might not be a cheap fix, as the problem may be more than the lack of a controller board. If that controller relies on some sort of sensor in the sump or pipe that is also missing, or the wrong model of pump has been fitted, it may be impossible to fix without taking up the floor of the cubicle.

I'm not surprised at the occupational therapist condemning a similar shower arrangement in your previous property - they're pretty much a last resort option. As you noted, the doors offer no support, the seals leak and they're a nightmare to keep clean. The undersized 6mm² supply cable is frustrating, too - electric showers of much less than 10kW are pretty hopeless in winter, but the new unit is as big as the supply supports so without a new supply nothing can be done.

As you are probably well aware from your previous wet room, proper wet rooms involve a great deal of work especially if they're built to avoid a drain pump. Getting the necessary fall for gravity drainage from a flat floor is difficult unless you can excavate (or open up if not on the ground floor) all the way to the drains.

My (privately funded by my family) wet room is in a new build extension. The shower is a thermostatic pumped unit fed by the hot and cold water tanks, and the floor drain uses gravity drainage to the foul drain which, fortunately, was only a couple of metres away across the garden. Though this involved the extra costs of new build, it was unavoidable as we had no available downstairs room to convert. Had we had a suitable room, there would have been considerable expense digging up a route for new gravity drainage if we wanted to avoid one of those accursed shower drain pumps.

Sadly, the costs involved means that funding is unlikely to become available for a flat floor wet room at your bungalow unless there is agreement from everyone that a flat floor wet room is the only viable option. As you accepted the property without an agreement to fit such a wet room and have managed somehow for over a year, it's disappointing but not surprising that replacement of your shower was classed as non urgent so will not attract funding in the foreseeable future.

I guess the summary is something like this:

You - this shower is like showering under a tepid drizzle whilst being assaulted by noise of a lapping dog amplified by a heavy metal band's stage amplification. The doors collapse if I do much more than look at them, and the seals leak.

Your son - disturbed greatly by the noise, whilst privacy/independence related issues mean he's only content showering at night (it sounds like even that was a huge compromise).

Neighbours - the noise, especially when we're trying to sleep.

Housing Association - we are being pressured over a growing backlog of homeless people we can't house and people whose disabilities mean they need urgent adaptations, a new property or residential care. We have no money to fund other adaptations or improvements.

Social Services - all the Disabled Facilities Grant money has gone before we've funded the urgent adaptations needed to keep people in their existing homes.

There's really no point going back over whether the decision to accept the property was wise. All decisions to move are a compromise. It sounds like the move was mostly very positive, and the bathroom will hopefully get sorted in the future, hopefully when the existing setup reaches the end of its usable life. The magnetic half door cubicles often do not last that long. At that point, hopefully the Housing Association can be persuaded that it is a false economy to do any other than install a wet room.

Make sure you get any falls in the shower documented and make the Housing Association aware. The more vehement your GP is prepared to be about the unsuitability of the existing arrangements in the light of your health, the better - you may just tip the balance from "it's barely suitable" (as now) to "it's an unacceptable safety risk" over time.

So far as damp goes, do dehumidifiers help, or is the noise too distressing for your son?

Talking of a drainage nightmare, we're now into the third week without a proper upstairs bathroom. We'd dreamed of refitting it for years, but had always kept putting it off (we're owner occupiers). Eventually, the dodgy drains became unusable - you couldn't flush anything solid other than a couple of sheets of loo paper without risking blocking the loo, and the sink siphoned into the bath when you pulled the plug with a load of sewer gas escaping as it did so.

It turned out that the original builders had idiotically installed the bathroom drains with no fall whatsoever to the soil stack as well as making other installation errors that restricted flow in the pipes. As a result, the pipes had gradually blocked over the years when fat had been deposited in the pipes rather than being swept away with the flow. This fat had reacted with cleaners over the year to form a solid deposit. To make matters worse, the sink and bath drains were connected together and ran to the soil stack in a single pipe.

The combined drain pipe from the sink and bath had the width of two pencils left open at the entrance to the soil stack, which explained the siphoning from sink to bath and the dreadful drainage from both sink and bath. The soil pipe from the toilet was also badly blocked at the entrance to the soil stack. Eventually, the builders had no alternative to ripping up the bathroom floor, breaking open the boxing in around the soil stack, cutting the soil stack at chest height on the ground floor and throwing the floor and pipework in a skip. Fortunately, the builders managed to clear the small amount of blockage below chest height on the ground floor, as replacing any more of the soil stack would have involved demolishing much of the small downstairs bathroom with the consequential large bill for reinstatement.

The old bathroom floor came up easily as the original builders had saved a tiny amount of money by stupidly not using waterproof boards. In the past, we'd had a slow weep from the flexible feed to the toilet cistern, which was so difficult to spot that we didn't realise until we found water damage downstairs. It turned out this had caused extensive damage to the old floor boards under the vinyl flooring, some of which crumbled away when lifted, so the entire floor had to come out rather than just the section that needed lifting to access the waste pipes. Fortunately, the joists were undamaged.

The builders have been brilliant throughout, though this goes to show how a simple bathroom refit can finish up requiring extensive demolition and reinstatement.

02-23-2014, 12:35 PM
Thanks for the input, another excellent read :)

Our previous property was a 3 bed semi with an upstairs bathroom so gravity drainage :)

My son will only get showered if forced to, apart from the noise he also has tactile issues with the way a shower feels on his skin but we don't have room for a bath and I couldn't use one if we did. He can shower safely when he's in it I just have to stay up long enough to make sure he goes in at all!.

I had thought of getting someone out to maybe raise the shower tray about 10 to 20cm off the floor as that may give enough of an angle for the water to drain off without the pump but I gather that I need some sort of valve to stop anything coming back up from the sewerage system.

I rang the shower pump manufacturer who say that a controller would have been supplied with the pump and should have been fitted when it was installed, housing assoc. workman who looked at it said it was more than likely that whoever fitted it took the controller board and used it (or sold it) on another job, apparently I'm not the only one with this problem!.

Again many thanks for the informative reply :)

02-23-2014, 04:59 PM
Interesting to read about all these problems with walk-in showers. I'm an owner occupier of a bungalow. Many years ago I had my bathroom refitted and updated. I had a Thermostatic shower installed with a big shower head over a bath. I had to have two new cold water tanks put in the loft that were raised as high as possible on stillage. Thermostatic showers are safe to use as they don't alter temperature if say a washing machine was on at the same time. It is also gravity fed with no electric pump but the flow is very good.

I remember rading about black mould. This is usually caused through damp especially if you dry cloths on radiators when there's no ventilation. I have a dryer in the garage of dry stuff in open plan living areas where ventilation is good.

My bathroom has a solid concrete floor and odd as it seems I did buy a low height bath but the plumbers had to raise it 4 inches to allow the water to drain out of the plughole. To compensate for the additional height I have a 4 inch high plastic box to step onto before swinging my legs over and standing on a rubber bath mat.

Luckily I have plenty of rails in the area which means I can enter and leave the shower area safely.

One thing I've learnt from this thread is that I won't be able to install a level walk-in shower. The flooring of any shower cubical will need to be at least 4 inches high to allow for drainage without a pump.I can't actually walk without holding onto something so it's a design nightmare. Touch wood - I've never fallen in the bathroom as it would be a problem getting back up as I live alone and don't ask for support - it's just slow and easy is my way.

I'll make do for the moment with my set up then I'll have to pay for a revamp.

02-23-2014, 06:19 PM
Falling is a huge worry, I managed to get them to move the grab rail but it's still not great, the sit on stool is also very difficult to use as it takes up most of the room in the shower cubicle making getting in/out and turning round difficult. I reckon I partially fall almost every time I shower and have fully fallen about five or six times in the last year.

My sons sleep pattern changes wildly, at the moment he's sleeping from about 6am to 2 or 4pm in the afternoon so getting a shower during the times he's asleep is not a good idea safety wise and as the shower is on the other side of the wall where his headboard is the noise would wake him up.

Then there's the problem of him not wanting to touch me (or even see me!) if I'm in there with no clothes on and need help getting up off the floor, can't really blame him for that though as I'm sure a naked a 6' 5" 20 stone Geordie isn't a pretty sight to anyone! :D

As I'm sure we all do we adapt and do what we find works best with the given situation. It's far from ideal but until I win the lottery or move house again (can't see that happening!) we'll just have to get on with it :)

02-23-2014, 06:33 PM
I had thought of getting someone out to maybe raise the shower tray about 10 to 20cm off the floor as that may give enough of an angle for the water to drain off without the pump but I gather that I need some sort of valve to stop anything coming back up from the sewerage system.

I'm no plumbing expert, but you'd need room to get some sort of trap under the shower waste to prevent gases coming back from the foul drains. You really do not want sewer gas coming back into the house - it smells and it's flammable.

Getting enough space for a trap and sufficient fall on the waste pipe can be tricky. My wet room was new build and the foul drain was nearby, so there was no problem building a trap into the floor and putting a waste pipe with plenty of fall on it through the foundations to the foul drain to remove the shower, sink and toilet waste. All the builders had to do was remodel the manhole where this pipe reached the foul drains to accommodate the new input. This means that I have a downstairs level floor wet room with no shower drain pump. It even has under floor heating.

However, if the intention was to adapt an existing downstairs room, fitting this type of drain would have involved digging a big hole in the concrete floor slab and making a hole through the foundations for the pipe some way below floor level. You can see why the easier option is often taken of pumping the shower waste down an existing higher level drain.