Sunday, July 10, 2016

(Jul 10) Plumbing The Toilet

With my hand still bound up in a cast, I've avoided getting back up on the roof. Instead, this weekend, we turned our attention to plumbing under the house, namely drainage for the composting toilet and the shower. We set out to get the first phase of the toilet ready, the urine diverter. It's an interesting conversation when you spend half the day trying to figure out where you mount this thing to make sure it catches everything for multiple people. Hopefully, we won't have to do too much adjustment after we cut the holes in the deck.

We knew where we wanted it to be positioned. We just needed to get it there. This involved cutting away some of the frame and grinding the plywood away to accommodate the curved front of the diverter as it rises with the lid.

Diverter attached to the cabinet lid. The drain pipe and bucket in place.

Once we got the position of the diverter set, that set the position for the drain pipe, which in turn determined where it would exit the floor. I got a range of motion of the pipe and confirmed that we weren't going to cut a hole directly above a floor joist. Cutting a hole in your floor is scary enough without the frustration of having to cut a 2nd hole because the 1st was in the wrong spot. We decided to drill a small hole to test the proposed location. I crawled under the house and verified it was right between 2 joists. :) I broke out our new hole saw and bored through the toilet frame, the flooring and both layers of subflooring without a hitch. Nice Saw!

Drain pipe exiting the cabinet through the floor

Diverter in position with drain pipe

Next, we secured the inlet pipe to the plywood wall and made sure the final placement of the diverted was good. We also confirmed that the bucket for solids would fit against up under the lip of the diverter. Just another safety measure to make sure nothing spills past the diverter. we are also on the hunt for the perfect bucket/container. Would love to find something square or rectangular that's tall enough to come up right under the diverter lip. A larger volume would mean we could go longer between emptying it.

Under the house, we plumbed a drain pipe that we tied into the drain under the kitchen. We left enough pitch to make sure it would flow downhill and out of the pipes. Also had to consider that we wanted the shower to start draining out back with the rest of the grey water. This was a difficult step for me. I had put a lot of thought and effort into proving the functionality of our recirculating shower. This would be the end of that project. :(

It wasn't that it hadn't worked. It worked fine. We were able to take showers for as long as you liked with only 5 gallons of water used. The reality of it though was that it took a fair amount of effort to set up each shower. I would fill the 5-gallon jug. Then I would turn on the pump that would circulate the water through the filter and the water heater just long enough to get the water to the desired temperature, usually no more than 5-7 minutes. After that, I would turn off the heater and leave the water circulating to take a shower. When done, I would have to dump the jug and start the process over if anyone else needed to bathe. I just couldn't see myself going through all of this every morning as we tried to get ready to go to work. :( It just wasn't going to be feasible for the long term.

I have since picked up a water heater (propane) at an auction and will be working on getting it hooked up and running. It won't be as efficient at conserving water but it will be much easier to deal with. I think we can still stay within our consumption goal of 5 gallons per shower. We'll just have to get used to Navy showers where we turn the water on and off throughout the shower for conservation. We just won't get to sit in there and take the 20-30 min showers we hoped to.

I'll have more pics coming as we hope to finalize everything soon. Have a great weekend!


  1. I'm a DIY enthusiast and I'm just starting to learn about plumbing as we're planning to build our own cabin next year. It's really useful to see step-by-step pictures of how you designed and fitted the toilet; thanks for sharing your work so that others can learn. I hope that you find a solution for the shower soon, too.

    1. Thanks, Lovella! I wish you luck on your plans! :) Thanks so much for the encouraging comment!

  2. Well done on this informative article. Many people assume that plumbing in a toilet is an easy task, but the task is incredibly difficult. We recently converted a small downstairs room into a bathroom and we called upon the services of our local plumber to install the toilet for us. Best money we ever spent.

    1. Thanks! My belief that I can accomplish just about anything has really blossomed this past couple of years as we built the house. Amazing what finishing a project like this does for you! :)