A Toilet that Flushes Up!
A Toilet that Flushes Up!
DEAR TIM: I would love to add a full bathroom to my slab home but the space does not have any plumbing drain lines nearby. In fact, I would love to add a second bath in the basement room of a vacation home we own, but once again there are no drain lines in the basement. I know there must be a way to do this, but what is the most economical way to add these bathrooms? I would love to know my options before I talk with a plumber. Barb P., Glenview, KY
DEAR BARB: Years ago, you would have had just two options:
- No bathroom for you.
- Apply for a home improvement loan to cover the high cost of tearing up concrete and installing all of the necessary gravity plumbing lines that would connect to your existing plumbing drain system.
But once again, technology and a clever idea have come to the rescue.
There are still two ways to accomplish your goal in both residences, even if the floor of a room is below the plumbing drain line as it leaves the house. In fact, it is common for many people to have a lower level that is not served by a gravity plumbing drain line. I have been in many homes where the main plumbing drain line exits a side wall of a foundation as it heads to the city sewer or a septic system. In these homes, storm water or spilled water that enters the lower level flows into a sump pit and this water is pumped from the sump to a location where it flows out onto the ground or into an approved plumbing drainage system.
But you cannot pipe bathroom waste, especially from a toilet, into these standard sump pits. The pits and the standard sump pumps are not built to handle this waste. Your first option, and by far the most expensive, is to install a sealed sump with a special sewage ejection pump. These special plumbing devices capture bathroom waste and pipe it up to the gravity plumbing drain pipes. Connecting the sump discharge line to the plumbing system is a very specialized task. It should only be done by a licensed plumber who is working with a permit.
What is a toilet that flushes up?
Your second option is much more fun. You need a toilet that flushes up! That sounds very odd, but in reality you can actually purchase a toilet that has its own built-in pump. In fact, bathroom sinks, tubs, showers, bidets and even urinals can be connected to this special toilet. The self-contained pump processes and transports all solid waste and waste water from the other bath fixtures into your regular plumbing drains lines. The powerful pump inside this toilet can actually lift the waste water as high as 12 feet and/or pump it 150 feet horizontally to where it connects to the plumbing drain system of your home.
These very cool toilets allow bathrooms to be installed in places on all floors of a home that before were overlooked as impractical. The good news is that virtually every plumbing and building department has approved these toilets for use in residential and light commercial applications. The manufacturers of these wonderful macerating toilets are required to have the fixtures certified to meet or exceed plumbing standards and codes. If you decide to purchase one, be sure your local plumbing department allows them to be used in your home. The plumbing inspectors may have a handy list of approved manufacturers that will save you time as well.
Pay attention to your local plumbing and building codes. Do not be surprised if you still have to hire a plumber for part of the work. Plumbing codes are strict for several reasons, but most importantly for public health and welfare. People can get very sick if plumbing waste is not piped correctly. What's more, public water supplies can be compromised if untrained people make illegal connections that allow water supplies to become contaminated.
If you decide to use one of the reliable macerating toilets, you should have bundles of money left over to spend on other things for your new bathroom. You can save thousands of dollars over the alternate cost of installing underground piping, sealed sumps and special sewage ejection pumps. One of the best features of these toilets is the time savings with respect to finishing the job. You can shave days, if not an entire week, off the schedule by using one of these very cool toilets that seemingly fly in the face of Mother Nature and Sir Isaac Newton.