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Basement Bathroom Possibilities

Help! We own a 1924-built 3 story home in Ohio. Although my husband has no formal home improvement experience- he's done pretty darn well. Now we are at an impasse though. I want to put a half bath in the basement for convenience (second kid on the way) and to increase the resale value. He says you must install a very expensive "up-flush" toilet to do this.

Is this true? Many old homes in the area have half-baths in the basement and they've been there for years-- I can't imagine they all bought these pricey commodes.

I can't find any info on line to support either of our notions!

Beth M.

The solution to your problem is a lot easier than you'd think.

The approach around here (Michigan) is to install a plastic sump (basin) below the concrete basement floor and use a sewage ejector pump (also called a lift pump) to pump out the waste when the sump gets full. These are special pumps equipped with grinding devices to chop up... ummmm... solid things.

I have seen several houses with these systems and they work fine. After flushing you can hear a faint sound as the pump motor kicks in.

If the pump ever fails, the toilet won't drain properly, so you'll be alerted to the problem.

I spoke to a rep at E&J Supply in Grand Rapids, and he told me that cost for the pump, basin and check valve would be around $375. That's pretty reasonable.

He also said that some "flush up" toilets are not legal in Michigan, but may be available in other places. But why bother?

With a sewage ejector system, you can have all the plumbing you want... toilet, sink, tub, shower, etc., and all those fixtures are plain ordinary devices that are used elsewhere in the home. With some "flush up" toilets you would still need a sump pump to handle the drain from the sink.

Ask a few plumbing contractors about costs for installing a sewage ejector system.

But first... many houses with basements have the building drain below the basement level which means no pump is used at all. You'll need to locate where the main drain exits your house. Sometimes you'll see a horizontal drain line halfway up the basement wall. That would require a sewage ejector. If there are any floor drains in your basement you MAY have a drain line below the floor.

Or just call some plumbers for estimates. They'll tell you the location of the drain lines. It would help to have a plan (like a decent sketch) of your proposed bathroom so the plumber can get a good idea of what you want.

Some people would have a plumber do the plumbing (there will be concrete cutting involved, which isn't that difficult, just messy) and then do all the wall framing, drywall, and finish work themselves. You are supposed to get a permit for this work, so they can raise your assessment and thus increase your taxes... but I won't comment on that!

This has been done MANY times before, so you should have no technical problems. 


Bruce W. Maki, Editor.




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Copyright 2001

Compiled June 25, 2001