Thread Number: 75260  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Floor drains
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Post# 990892   4/15/2018 at 20:20 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Folks, please help me understanding

Why a floor drain in the laundry room or in the kitchen is almost impossible to be seen here in the USA?

Post# 990894 , Reply# 1   4/15/2018 at 20:52 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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Mostly because most old floor drains do not go into the septic system and it supposedly hurts the environment to just drain outside and have mostly been outlawed because of the crap going in them, especially from garages, leaking anti-freeze and oil etc. I wanted one in my basement, but was told no. All soaps have no phosphates now and that is what hurts the environment. They are so adamant about septic systems here, but these jerks spread fertilizer right up to the lakes edge to have a beautiful lawn and its all phosperous that runs right back in the lake after the next rain, but that is fine?

Post# 990904 , Reply# 2   4/15/2018 at 23:05 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
There are fifty states

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All with their own building codes that cover plumbing. Piled on may be local rules/codes on top; so without narrowing things down to a particular area it is hard to give an definite answer.

In general much will depend upon what sort of waste one is speaking of and or where the floor drain is to be located. This goes further taking into account will water go to a septic or local sewage system.

This being said it isn't "impossible" to have floor drains, at least not in commercial/industrial settings. Laundromats, laundries and others use washers without pumps have drainage troughs that lead to drains. IIRC many commercial kitchens have floor drains to aid in cleaning (easier to hose down floors or whatever). Am also thinking of places that use various washing machines or dishwashers that could in theory overflow and or need to be drained....

Think main reason why you don't see floor drains in residential kitchens or laundry rooms any longer has to do with they are no longer needed. For decades now semi and fully automatic washing machines along with dishwashers have come with pumps. Thus whatever reasons for having/putting up with floor drains were removed.

Post# 990917 , Reply# 3   4/16/2018 at 01:34 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Thank you for your interesting answer.

That's exactly my question.

I mean, it's known that nowadays nobody uses washers or dishwashers that would need a floor drain but, what about cleaning? Of course, we can use mops or floor washers like the Hoover Floormate or the Bissell Crosswave or others, but what about the good and old "wash using water".

One of the things i miss the most from Brazil is the floor drains. I used to use a pressure washer to wash the bathrooms in my apartment in Brazil. actually the whole apartment floor (porcelanatto) was meticulously designed to be slightly slant towards the drains in both bathrooms and the balcony.
All my furniture had high legs to make it much easier.
Once in a wile, it was super easy to simply use a garden hose and wash EVERYTHING, i mean, the whole apartment, being careful to avoid spraying the furniture or the walls.

After everything was done, i wouldn't need to worry about using a squeegee because all the water would slide straight to the drains.

Of course, that kind of "ultra deep cleanimg" is unthinkable here in the US with all the wood and drywwall constructions, but for example a toilet, it is MUCH better if you can simply wash it with tons of water.

Post# 990940 , Reply# 4   4/16/2018 at 08:29 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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You are encountering the same things all of us who come to the US from more technologically advanced countries encounter - NIH. Not invented here. You may have a floor drain in my state, provided it is hooked up to a 'grease separator' and the sewer line in your municipality is certified to run separately from the storm drains with no interconnection. Sigh. Americans stopped innovating and learning when St. Ronnie von Rayguns came into office. It's been pure polarization and resistance to anything anyone else on the planet does better ever since.

Post# 990942 , Reply# 5   4/16/2018 at 08:50 by foraloysius (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)        

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I have a floor drain in the center of my laundry room. But I don't have one in the bathroom, I have a bath and a shower but a floor drain would have made it easier to give the bathroom a thorough cleaning now and then.

Post# 990950 , Reply# 6   4/16/2018 at 09:59 by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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I have a floor drain in my basement, had one in every house I've lived here. Basement floor drains are very common in older houses here.

Post# 990981 , Reply# 7   4/16/2018 at 13:01 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
One *thinks*

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In Northeast and Mid-West, and or places that were cold enough to warrant or had steam/hot water heating there would be floor drains. For one thing to drain water should the boilers overflow. Other reasons would be for routine maintenance such as clean out. Far easier to let water drain on to floor and down drain then to rely upon buckets.

Also *think* in homes with basements that can flood and or where there is a water heater you find either floor drains or sump pumps.

Main worry about floor drains (especially old ones) is keeping the thing clean and sanitary. This and then you have worries about vermin/pests. Cannot speak for anywhere else but here in NYC when it is warm/humid long enough "bugs" start coming up from the sewers into basement, ground and even first floor drains.

Local plumbing codes long have mandated screening on pipes leading from sewers to keep out rats/mice; but "bugs" are another matter.

Saw a beautiful older French washing machine on CL several months back. It was a H-axis top loader which always gets one's vote. Besides the distance the thing required a floor drain because it didn't have a pump. This washer was made in France for sale in Asia (Thailand IIRC) where apparently washing machines without pumps are very popular. One either lets the hose drain out off balcony, porch, etc... or into a floor drain.

Post# 990984 , Reply# 8   4/16/2018 at 13:17 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Years ago while reading about early 1900's immigrant experiences in NYC came upon a story of an tenement in Little Italy where the housewife (fresh off the boat) decided to clean the floors of apartment the only way she knew how; throwing buckets of water.... Neighbors from floors below promptly began banging on her door shouting "the greenhorn is going to drown us...."

Post# 991010 , Reply# 9   4/16/2018 at 18:16 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I had drains put in the basement floor in the laundry, bathroom and hall when I had all new plumbing installed. Most of the basement floor was replaced with new concrete, so this was the same as doing in new construction.

I wish I would have had the bathroom walls built of glazed tile units (like they use in schools, hospitals, etc.) instead of steel framing with tile over cement board, so I could hose the room down.

I don't think I'd want a floor drain in the kitchen. The only time I've ever seen one was in a friend's basement kitchen.

I don't think many houses with finished basement have drains except in utility areas. I'd imagine people would be afraid of backups ruining carpet, especially if the main sewer line became clogged and all waste water from the house (or other neighborhood houses) came up the floor drains. This happened to us way too often. We finally got a backwater valve to prevent backups from outside, but they require regular maintenance or will fail to work.

Post# 991037 , Reply# 10   4/17/2018 at 00:57 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

You will not find a floor drain in the US in most homes with framed flooring.  Basements yes, but very rare other than that.  For a framed floor to have a usable floor drain it would have to be water tight not allowing water to get under whatever is on the surface and onto/into the wood sub-floor.  With a poured cement type floor, no issue.


Here in MI floor drains in the basement are fairly common.  They are generally tied into the tiles that run around the perimeter of the basement.  Either drain into an sump pump or storm sewer system, not a sanitary sewer.  Luckily I'm higher than all my neighbors and do not have a sump pump, and floor drains are connected to the storm sewers.  Most of the time it's fine, but over the years we have had our share of basement floods due to this after extremely heavy rains when the streets are under water.  Once it happened just prior to a large gathering we were hosting, and all the tables in the basement had to be picked up, floor scrubbed and but back in place, no sleep the night before!  A back flow check valve would be great, but very difficult and expensive to dig up the yard to do it at this point.

Post# 991049 , Reply# 11   4/17/2018 at 04:57 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Matt, Would something like this not fit?  They just fit down into the drain itself.

Post# 991058 , Reply# 12   4/17/2018 at 06:20 by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan)        

Those kinds of stoppers are very hard on the plumbing...basically the water goes where it wants to go, and if you push down on it at the drain it comes up in worse places (the weak place in the pipe, for instance) and you have a mess on your hands.

Post# 991088 , Reply# 13   4/17/2018 at 10:49 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Basement Floor drains

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Were banned long ago in this area because the water in the drain trap evaporates over time and then sewer gases back up in the house, the only way you can have them is if you install a driper that constantly drips water in the drain.

The best way to add one to your basement is to break up the floor and install a basement shower where the floor of the shower stall is a few inches below the floor level, this will make a very good floor drain in the event of a basement flood.

John L.

Post# 991094 , Reply# 14   4/17/2018 at 11:29 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

As noted the "plugs" can create more issues by forcing the water out elsewhere such as the perimeter tiles.  Ideally in my situation a check valve at the storm sewer at the street would be the best option, but that does not solve the issue of the water from the perimeter tiles needing to go somewhere.  My location is very much a sand/gravel mix with lots of natural springs so water flows quickly down through the porous soil.


In my situation the water is "relatively" clean since we have so many springs in the area and 95% of the folks around here have sump pumps pumping the water into the storm drain. 

Post# 991135 , Reply# 15   4/17/2018 at 16:04 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

The floor drains in my house are connected to the sanitary sewer system, as the previous ones were. The new underfloor piping is all PVC, and watertight. The old pipes, however, were not. They were 4" clay tile in sections about 16" in length. They were not the hub and bell type as used for the sewer going out to the street, but rather the plain style, and laid with a gap of about 1/4" between them. This was so the piping could also serve to drain away underfloor water.

We tried stoppers on the order of the ones Greg mentions, but we still had a flood. In addition to water overflowing the basement toilet, it came up through the floor. I found out why when we tore out the old floor - the gaps in the tile as I stated above. We had always thought the underfloor pipes were cast iron like the soil stack and other drains, but not hardly.

The backwater valve my dad had installed was in the basement level garage. There was a big heavy steel lift-up door to get to it. The new one is also there, but just a small plastic cover right by where the sewer goes out to the street.

Post# 991144 , Reply# 16   4/17/2018 at 16:46 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I guess floor drains are de riguer in more technologically advanced nations because, as we all know, European shit don't stink.

Post# 991217 , Reply# 17   4/18/2018 at 08:08 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
For sure Rich!

and in Cairo too!
I was watching some movie or show once, I don't remember, but they were joking that the sewage plant in L.A. over flows during the heavy rainy season into the ocean.

Post# 991336 , Reply# 18   4/18/2018 at 22:24 by cornutt (Huntsville, AL USA)        

We have floor drains in our garage and utility room. They combine with the foundation French drains, which drain to daylight. Our air conditioner condensate drains into the floor drain in the utility room.

Post# 991938 , Reply# 19   4/24/2018 at 05:11 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Just to point out that floor drains

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Didn't or don't always translate into dry wash days. *LOL*

Post# 991968 , Reply# 20   4/24/2018 at 11:33 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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My sister lives part time in Brazil and told me she had a floor drain even in the kitchen in her appartment! The only kitchens I have seen here with a floor drain are those in restaurants!

I have one in my basement which is close to the boiler and water heater and I have one in my garage but that's the only two places you can expect to see this in houses around here.

My sister also told me that in Brazil, you're not expected to throw toilet paper in the toilet as it could cause some plumbing issues. I don't know if that's true everywhere in Brazil but to North Americans, that's weird and this is something I couldn't adapt to!

Other things like heated shower heads are things I wouldn't have thought existed if she had not told me about them (she had a regular water heater and hot water at the tap at her home). I get that cold water isn't near as cold as here.

Post# 991972 , Reply# 21   4/24/2018 at 12:46 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Yes, floor drains are extremely normal in kitchens, bathrooms (usually next to the toilet), balconies in apartments (can you imagine somebody washing the balcony floor on the 30th floor and the water falling outside? Nah, nasty).

I don't understand the "electric" showerheads until today. There are dozens od models, from the cheapest one (usually bought by very poor people or installed in those government housing program to high end models that are extremely fancy.

The only advantage i can see is reducing the construction cost, as the house doesn't have a water heater and there is only the cold pipe running througout the house. The shower has only one simple valve.

Low end showerhead models usually have 5500W power and a selector with three positions: off, 50% and 100%.

DUring the summer, you can keep it at 50% and it will be ok, and save some electricity. During the winter the water is colder so 100% is required.
The fine adjustment on temperature is made by opening more or less the tap. The less you open, the hotter it gets.
As they don't have enough power, during very cold winters you need to open the tap barely enough to give pressure to turn the showerhead on. Otherwise you'll have a cold shower LOL.

High end models have more powerful heating elements (7500W to 12.000 W) and some of them have an electronic selector, almost like a dimmer. Some also have built in pressurizing pumps.

With those you can have extremely hot showers with plenty of water.

The only thing i miss about the Lorenzetti Jet Master Shielded with pump i had in my bathroom in Brazil was the water pressure and volume. It has absolutely nothing to do with those ridiculous Eco-Nazi showerheads here in the US.

I like to shower with water, real water, lots of water. Not with a waterpik.

I'm very hairy, all over my body (except the head as I'm bald) Think of a pain to rinse using an american drip counter showerhead. The brazilian showerhead looks like i'm showering with a fire hose.

Now back to the floor drains in the kitchen, It's impossible NOT to love them.
Of course we don't wash the kitchen floors every day, we use mops and now even swiffer, just like in the US. But everybody knows it's not the same as really washing, with water, lots of water, scrubbing with suds and then rinsing and seeing all the dirt going down the drain.

When i bought my apartment it was still under construction and one of my requirements was that all the floors were slightly slant to the floor drains. I chose all the furniture with tall feet so once in a while, i could literally use a garden hose and wash all the floors and the water would flow straight to the drains. I never had to use a squeegee to push the water. The only thing i had to lift were the small area rug in the living and the dining room and the small mats next to the bed.

And when you have hi gloss procelanatto (i regret so much i chose that because women wearing skirt would always be embarrassed as the floor was like a mirror), you soon discover it's impossible to keep it perfectly clean and with no marks using only mops.
Other reason i HATED the floor i chose was that even a single eyelash on the floor would look like it had a giant neon arrow blinking and it would be screaming "look, I'm here".

If I spent 2 days without vacuuming and mopping the floor, it looked like the apartment was abandoned for a decade and sooner or later I would see a tumbleweed rolling in the living room, so nasty and dirty the floor was.

Post# 991978 , Reply# 22   4/24/2018 at 14:31 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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Another thing that apparently isn't popular in Brazil is bathtubs. My sister's husband who's from Brazil told me he didn't think it was an appropriate way to wash ourselves in a bath! I told him I almost always take my bath but then I either fill it again with clean water to rinse myself or rinse with the shower!

BTW, there used to be a time when water saving wasn't a concern and our sinks didn't have areators and our showers were not as restricted! I just replaced the crappy water saving shower I had in my basement with a slightly older one that throws some water! I think taking a shower now uses more water than taking a bath but since I seldom use it, it's not a concern to me! I did the same with 3 faucets that I replaced with old ones without aerators. Now there's plenty of water coming out and it doesn't take a minute before I get hot water! I still need to replace the one in my kitchen one with an older faucet.

About floor drains, I guess since most homes have their kitchen and bathrooms on a wood floor here, that's another reason why having a floor drain would require a lot of sealing work... Even my laundry room that's behind my garage at ground level has a wood floor a few inches above the concrete slab and it's the same for most of my basement. The ceramic tiles aren't directly over the concrete. Instead of drains, there are 3 power outlets in the floor of my basement. I'm wondering what would happen if it gets flooded as I have to walk across that room to shut off the breakers. I have a few other reasons to wish it never happens!

I noticed that refrigerators in Brazil are often raised on tall legs (as seen on the last two pics), I guess it's to avoid that the bottom part rusts because of water on the floor? I've never seen such a thing here or in the US.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 992018 , Reply# 23   4/24/2018 at 20:32 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Yep,. Bathtubs are not very popular in Brazil, except on more higher end houses and apartments (usually a giant jacuzzi in the master bathroom) and most people first dream about having a bathtub then after they have it for some time, usually using it as a giant laundry hamper, they dream about getting rid of "that darn think that nobody uses and is a pain to keep clean".

Well, needless to say MY bathtub was probably the most used bathtub in Brazil. During the summer i use to take 5 baths per day, and also keep it full with plain cold water for a 2 minute dip every hour or so, only to cool down my "internal radiator" LOL


Those feet you see (main character on many jokes about being poor, by the way) were popular in the 70's and 80's.
They are actually rollers to easily move the fridge or the stove to clean under it.

A few years later, manufacturers started to use that american style nut with a round nylon cap, so one could easily drag the appliance on ceramic floors without scratching it.

More recently, about 15 years ago, most manufacturers started to make the appliances with high bottoms and a plastic skirt on the front, so to clean the floor under it was super easy, just pull the skirt, clean, and put the skit back and rollers just like many american fridges.
Howadays nearly all fridges in Brazil have this high bottom. BOL models you can see a huge gap and high end models have a removable plastic skirt.

In the 60's or 70's, I don't remember what manufacturer did something quite interesting, if i'm not mistaken it was GE. The fridge had some sort of flexible skirt that you could connect a vacuum cleaner and it would float just like a hoover constellation and one could drag the fridge literally with one finger.

The average housewife in Brazil drags the fridge and the stove at least once every two weeks to clean under them. More often if they are one of those "proud housewifes". Attachments like that under appliance want would be seen as a joke in Brazil. I can even iamgine housewives sayign "What? just vacuum? No washing? Yuck! This is for lazy women that have nasty kitchen and probably clean the bathroom with a spray and paper towel."

To understand that better, we also have to understand many family structures in Brazil are just like in the USA 100 years ago. The old school sexist thing. The man works, the woman stays home cleaning and cooking, the house must be MORE-THAN-IMPECABLE when the man arrives from work. Incredibly, dishwashers are not so popular in Brazil as they are here because of the stigma "if I have a dishwasher, my friends and relatives will think i'm a lazy woman or I'm not "woman enough".
Unfortunately there is also that culture" man work, woman work". A man doing laundry will always trigger stupid homophobic jokes like "Are you a faggot? this is momen's work!"

Women cook, do laundry, iron, take care of the kids, and if they drive is to take the kids to school or to go to the supermarket. Men work outside, fix things, should have no idea how to turn on a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner or know the difference between a broom, a mop or a squeegee. Men should never dare to cook (that's a women's work), but man must make the barbecue while women make salads and desserts. Women doing barbecure triggers the "is she a truck driver lesbian?" stupid jokes.

My mom bought a KA dishwasher here in the us and took it to brazil in 1964, more than a decade before the very first dishwasher (Brastemp) was released in Brazilian market.

Since then, we never lived without a dishwasher and until recently, visitors would see the dishwasher in the kitchen and say "Do you have health issues? injuries in your arms or you're just lazy? Yuck, i bet this thing doesn't clean as well as hand washing. If you invite me for dinner, please have the decency to wash the dishes properly by hand because i can't trust eating on dishes washed by that crappy machine made for lazy women."

Post# 992024 , Reply# 24   4/24/2018 at 20:55 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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The refrigerators which could be moved with the blower from a vacuum cleaner were GM Frigidaire. It was marketed as a Canadian invention for 1965 models and US models had it the next year in 1966. In Canada, they even got portable dishwashers with a built-in blower motor and that Ride-Aire feature.

You say this was also available in Brazil?

See the link below for more info.


Post# 992025 , Reply# 25   4/24/2018 at 20:57 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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And another picture here:


Post# 992038 , Reply# 26   4/25/2018 at 00:42 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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" Didn't or don't always translate into dry wash days. *LOL* "

Well, not when you're using an array of obsolete labor intensive laundry devices... so much easier with modern fully automatic washers hooked up to hot and cold water and a functional drain standpipe.

"electric shower heads"

Well, I really could have used one of those a few weeks ago when my water heater was on the fritz. On the other hand, I wonder how many people have been electrocuted by malfunctioning electric shower heads.

High bottom fridges

Reminds me of visiting some friends living in Hawaii a few decades ago. In the course of conversation they offered up that fridge in Hawaii don't last very long, because of the humidity. They tend to rust out. I imagine parts of Brazil might also be rather humid.

Post# 992054 , Reply# 27   4/25/2018 at 07:16 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Bingo! The fridge was frigidaire.

"On the other hand, I wonder how many people have been electrocuted by malfunctioning electric shower heads."

As far as I know, not even a single accident. Maybe with the first ones decades ago.The theory is like a mini electrical water heater.

How many people in the us were electrocuted by faulty electric water heaters?

Here in the us is kinda normal to see electric instant water heaters, usually installed under sinks.

Post# 992055 , Reply# 28   4/25/2018 at 07:19 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Back to the showerheads, now there are some fancy hybrid models. You select a temperature you want and it detects the inlet temperature.

Great if you have a solar system and don't want to run the backup heater in the tank.

When the water starts to arrive cold, because you used all the hot water in the tank, it gradually kicks in, so you can't notice any temperature difference

Post# 992094 , Reply# 29   4/25/2018 at 14:42 by Brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

In Australia you have to have floor drains in bathrooms and laundries. They either drain through the wall to the outside, they just have a little plastic flap on the outside or they are part of a wet drain. The rooms fixtures drain through the floor drain to keep the trap primed but it’s open to the floor in case of spillage.

The rooms are waterproofed with a fiberglass type sealant that goes over the blue board or concrete. You then tile over the top. They’re not designed here generally so you can hose the room out, but more so if you have a spill the water goes down the drain rather than through the house.

I’ve seen them in houses here as early as the 60s, but they only became a requirement in the 80s.

Post# 992106 , Reply# 30   4/25/2018 at 15:53 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I remember one of my cousins having a Frigidaire with the air-ride feature, as did my mom's friend Frances.

Post# 992364 , Reply# 31   4/28/2018 at 10:14 by gizmo (Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Au)        
not all parts of Australia.....

Here in Victoria, floor drains in bathrooms and kitchens are not required, and are unusual. We didn't put one in when we built our house, but should have.....

A few days ago my partner put a few things into the LG front loader, didn't quite shut the door properly, put it on and went outside. Unfortunately the door lock cut off switch hasn't worked for years, I left it that way as I quite like being able to add something to the wash without waiting for the door to release.

I spent that evening vacuuming up the mess with a wet and dry vac. 3 full vacuum cleaner drums at 25 litres per drum, plus a bit more. I had to remove the kickboards under the cupboards in the laundry and kitchen. What a mess!!! The side panels of the cupboard in the laundry have swollen and will need to be replaced.

the door lock will be fixed soon...

Should have fitted a floor drain...

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