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Can i add a toilet to my basement?

Posted 05-08-2009 at 08:06 AM by faucetman886

Can I install a toilet in my basement?
The most difficult new additions of plumbing fixtures are tubs, showers and toilets. Obviously the difficulty arises from the need to drain from the bottom. I read in threads all of time where people ask “I have a tub, can we take it out and replace it with a shower and a toilet or bidet”. Well it is easier to replace a tub with a shower but toilets require a larger drain and thus a lot of changes in the overall plumbing which is located in the floor. The question of the week was how about a basement? How easy is it to add a bathroom with a toilet to my basement? The simple answer is ITS NOT EASY. To have an operative toilet you need 3 things, a water supply, a drain line and a vent (drains don’t work effectively without one). Additionally you are usually dealing with a steel reinforced concrete slab that is the basement floor. Let’s talk about each individually:
1. WATER SUPPLY – probably the easiest thing to accomplish. Many basements have laundry fixtures that are easy to tap to provide water and if not the main water line from the street comes into, through or just above the basement allowing for easy access. Additionally of you are just building out your basement you have the full ability to hide the piping from the source to where you need it in the stud partition walls. If none of those sources are easy it is a simple job to find a water line from the kitchen or bathrooms above to pull a supply line from. So take a look around and see where you can get the water and keep in mind you want to get it from the shortest distance to keep from losing water pressure from a long complicated run.
2. DRAIN LINE – Probably the hardest thing to accomplish. This may require cutting into the concrete floor and not just a hole underneath the fixture but may require a trench across the floor to the outside to the main drain. Depending on the depth below ground of the basement this may actually be impossible because the last time I checked water does not run uphill without some considerable encouragement. So your only alternative would be to drain the basement fixtures into existing drains from the house. You might get lucky and find the drain coming down a wall and through the floor and be able to tap into it and minimize the lift needed but lift will still be needed. If not, you will have to locate where it leaves the house above and facilitate a connection to that and install a sump type system to take the effluent from the toilet and pump it up and out. There are several types of systems for this. You can buy a complete sump and pump system that comes in a drum type device that can be buried simply in a hole beneath the toilet requiring only a simple cut in the concrete and a hole deep enough to bury the device. Another alternative is to raise the toilet up above floor height to allow for a drain line out the bottom and connect to an external pump either beside or behind the toilet. This can be done by building a frame cover with plywood to hide the mechanics or there are complete devices that can be purchased that already have the box, drain and pump in one fiberglass assembly. Either of these last two options will require a step up to the toilet or that the entire bathroom be raised above floor level. The latter will make a cleaner neater appearance but a step up from floor level into the bathroom will be required. These lift pump and complete assemblies can be bought for from $400 to $1500 plus labor to install.
3. VENT – Most people underestimate the value and importance of the vent. A vent does two things, it allows the drain to breathe so that water flows out as it should and secondly it takes dangerous sewer gases up and out of the house. If your home is properly vented now with some over capacity of needed vent you will simply need to locate the nearest vent above the basement level and tap into it. In your house is already suffering from inadequate or minimum venting then you will have to run a vent pipe from the basement up through the house and out and above the roof line of your house. This will of course require getting into walls, the attic and piercing and resealing your roof.
Hopefully I have given you some idea as to the difficulty you’re facing in adding a bathroom to the basement…..impossible? probably not….difficult? definitely….can you do it yourself? I couldn’t and you probably can’t either. Save your effort and call your friendly licensed plumber and at least get a consultation on what will be needed to make it happen.
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