Composting Toilets – Will One Work in Your Home?


When trying to decide whether a composting toilet is right for your home, there are many important factors to take into consideration.  Will your family and any houseguests be accepting of a different type of toilet system?  Will your lifestyle and schedule accommodate a composting toilet?  Are you able to maintain the unit easily on your own?  But at the top of this list, you must ask yourself whether your home is equipped for installation of a composting toilet system.  There are a few limitations and exceptions when it comes to installing these units that homeowners need to be aware of.First and foremost, if your home is on a slab foundation and you have no basement or low lying cellar, you will immediately be limited in the type of composting toilet system you can choose.  For example, central systems are made up of a toilet fixture in the bathroom and a central composting unit on a lower level.  This obviously will not work if your home has no lower level.  The alternative option is a self contained unit.  Self contained composting toilets are actually more popular than central systems for this very reason, and also because they are very simple to install.When shopping for a compost toilet, you’ll also need to determine whether the unit requires any types of plumbing hookups.  There are two types of hookups that may be required: water in and drainage out.  The vast majority of composting toilets are waterless, meaning they require no water lines to be plumbed in.  However, there are some systems that feature low flush toilets, using a very small amount of water as a flushing liquid.  In this case, you will need access to running water.  If your home lacks running water, you’ll obviously need to seek out only those systems that are completely waterless.Many systems will also require an emergency overflow drain to be hooked up.  Be sure to inquire with the manufacturer or retailer before buying a composting toilet, as this is an important thing to take into consideration before making a purchase.  The overflow drain is an important feature in those toilets that require it, particularly if you live in a humid climate and don’t have air conditioning in your home.  Because the primary job of a composting toilet is evaporation, fluctuations in relative humidity can greatly affect the system’s ability to evaporate liquids.  Having the drain hooked up will prevent any possible backup of excess liquid.  Drains must be hooked up in accordance with your local regulations or building codes.  Possible options for hookup might include an old, unused septic tank, sewer line, drain pit, or holding tank.Another consideration is venting.  Most composting toilets have some type of venting system that helps them maintain odorless operation.  The vent is typically made up of 2 inch or 4 inch diameter PVC pipe that runs from the back or top of the unit to the outdoors.  The direction that the pipe must run will vary depending on the type of toilet, so be sure to read all installation materials carefully before selecting and buying a unit.  In some cases, the vent stack must run vertically, directly upward from where the toilet is located.  In some homes, this might create a difficult or impossible installation.In reality, there are very few homes in which a composting toilet will not work.  The key is in finding the right unit for your home and your installation needs.  A little research and forethought before making your purchase can save a lot of time and headaches when it comes time to complete the installation.

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For more information on how to build a composting toilet that will work in your home, visit the Composting Toilet Store at
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