Do you find yourself with an unfinished and/or large basement and are not sure how to make it habitable? For those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to have a basement with a beautiful den and a couple bedrooms, we will have to create a space ourselves. One of the most useful ways to use your basement space is to make a bathroom. If you end up putting in a spare bedroom, or even if you want the convenience of a bathroom downstairs so you don’t have to go all the way upstairs while watching a movie or hanging out with friends, then you will definitely need a bathroom for downstairs.
It can seem quite daunting to create a bathroom out of nothing, and to be honest, it is imperative that proper planning and knowledge be applied. I remember my best friend’s basement had the oddest “bathroom” I had ever seen. It was in what was essentially the laundry room, having the washer and dryer and a sink, and was situated only a foot away from the entrance. Since there was no door, it was very stressful to -ahem- use because you were always worried about being caught doing your business. No one wants an awkward makeshift bathroom,or a broken water pipe or some other disaster, so that’s why it’s important you understand how you can properly install a basement toilet in order to avoid any problems and address all particular obstacles you may have to deal with.
You definitely can install a basement toilet but there are several aspects of the job to think about. We will go over the main issues you will face and then go into the details as to how to solve them. Let’s go over some important things to consider:
These are all important main points to have planned out before you get into the thick of things. We will go over in greater detail these questions now that the general ideas have been addressed.
Wouldn’t it be a major bummer to have all these plans, buy some of the needed supplies, only to find out that you can’t afford to finish the whole project? No need to fear, we’re here to give you a general idea of the price. So how much does it cost to install a toilet in the basement? Let’s get into it:
Types of Toilets:
You might be thinking “can you even install a toilet in a basement if it’s got cement floors?” The answer is “Yes!”. We simply have to look at specific types of toilets that work specifically for basements. Luckily for us there are several types of toilets we can use:
Standard Toilet: if you already have a plumbing system in your basement but no toilet, then you can simply get a standard one. The cost ranges anywhere from $100-$1000
Upflush Toilet: This toilet’s plumbing runs up through the ceiling and connects to the main sewage line. There is a pump that is found either within the toilet or behind it which will move the sewage upwards and out through the piping. You can also add a shower and sink line to the same piping in order to eliminate a need for more installation. The downside? All the pipes and possibly even the pump is visible. This toilet costs about $600-800.
Sewage Ejector System: With this system you buy a standard toilet and then install essentially a miniature septic system to go with it. The pump is put below the ground and hooked up to the toilet’s waterline. It can also be hooked up to the sink and shower as well if it is big enough. The pumps can cost anywhere from $400-$700 depending on the tank’s size and quality. You also need to calculate the additional cost of a toilet, which we have already discussed the cost.
Composting Toilets: If you want to be environmentally friendly then you might want to try this out. No water, no installation. The catch? You have to dump out your own waste. The toilet has two compartments: One for urine and one for feces. In these compartments natural decomposers like moss or wood chips and such are put into it, which will break down the waste and remove odor. After about 80 uses (depending on how much you do your business) it needs to be dumped. No cleaning required as the bacteria from excess waste is useful in breaking things down. It’s kind of gross but great for the environment and requires no installation (plus homemade fertilizer…). Composting toilets cost from $1000-$1500 but you’re saving a bit with no installation and no water. Hey, just putting it out there.
Macerating Toilets: This is an upflush toilet with an additional grinding feature than essentially blends up waste making it easier and more effective in being transferred upwards and into the main sewage line. You may install externally or within the wall (this would reduce noise from the grinding). This toilet costs a bit more than the normal upflush, $800-$1000 but is much more effective in avoiding clogs so it might be worth the extra money.
If it’s too daunting to figure out how to install a toilet with your basement cement floor then you can either simply put a compost toilet in your bathroom or install an upflush/macerating toilet. Let’s go into the details:
Firstly you need to find the area and make sure you have the proper measurements. Keep in mind that if these types of toilets require room for a pump behind them. If you do not give enough space, then it is no easy feat to fix. Make sure that your water supply is cut off, as always when dealing with plumbing.
Locate your soil stack pipe and cut into it to add a Y-connector. This will allow you to add on extra pipes to the main one. The Y fitting will attach through PVC piping to either your macerating or normal upflush pump. If you would like to conceal your pump within the wall for less noise/ better aesthetic, make sure you have a couple inches of space between the wall framing and the cement wall.
Make sure you have a water supply, cold water, and that the position of the supply is 10-12 inches above ground. The pump is run on electricity, so run the cord within the wall to the nearest outlet. Protect your outlet from water by covering it with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFGI).
Prepare the pump by making sure the elbow valve is pointing the correct direction and secured with a clamp, toward the Y-connector. There will be a whole in the middle of the pump that will connect directly into the toilet. Press and twist into place, and use a metal band and washers to secure the toilet’s pipe. If you are concealing the macerator/pump, then use an accordion fitting to elongate distance from the toilet to the pump. Use PVC piping to connect from the elbow to the Y-fitting. If you need to use several pipes, make sure that you’ve used plumber’s cement to seal the cracks.
If needed connect your pump into the house’s vent system for ventilation by using an accordian fitting that will connect the vent hole to a PVC pipe. Make sure you tighten the system with a wrench.
Secure your toilet with screws to the floor. Be careful not to break the porcelain. Attach the water tank to the toilet with nuts and use your hand to tighten the water supply to the tank. Plug in the pump to the outlet. That’s it! When you are making your walls make sure you use a removable panel for behind your toilet for easy access.
If your basement has no piping system then you may want to stick with an upflush, macerating, or composting toilet. However, if you have an existing rough-in pipe from the ground, it is possible to hook up your toilet to said pipe. This isn’t very hard, in fact if this is your case, consider yourself lucky.
Let’s go over the basics how to install a toilet in a basement with a rough-in pipe:
Make sure your work area is cleared and clean and that the water is turned off in your home. If at all possible, have a buddy there with you to help. Toilet’s are extremely heavy and if the porcelain breaks, that’s a very expensive blunder. Place a wax seal around the pipe and where the toilet will be placed. Begin to insert the bolts closest to you into the toilet’s flanges.
If possible, have a friend help you align the toilet with the seal’s screw holes and place it over the wax seal. Sit down on the stool to make sure the toilet is firmly pressed down. Screw on a washer and then seal with a nut over each flange using a wrench, but be sure not to screw it on too tightly, as that can cause a crack or break in the toilet.
Then all you need to do is assemble the rest of the toilet (put in handle and put on the top) and then turn your water back on. Voila. Simple as that.
If you don’t already have rough in pipe but the other types of toilets aren’t doing it for you then that makes matters a lot more complicated.
How to install a rough in pipe is tricky but not impossible:
First thing you need to do is locate the main drain in your basement. This part might be one of the trickiest part of the process but it’s imperative that you do because you need to connect your new pipe to the main one in order for your sewage to be properly disposed of. The way to do this is to find the “main stack” which is about 3-4 inches wide. It runs from up the sealing down into the basement floor, running out into the street and from there, the sewage is taken away. Before you start immediately drilling, however, it’s good to know that sometimes the pipe runs on an angle in the basement. In order to tell if this is the case for you, look for the cleanout plug in your basement on the side of the floor that is facing the street, this will give you the projection that the pipe is going at.
Now that you’ve located the pipe you can decide where your toilet will be placed and subsequently where you will need to drill your hole. But you need to keep in mind that you can’t choose this location willy-nilly. Some important information before you get ready to do this is that in order for gravity to work in your favor, you need your pipe to slope on at least a ¼ inch decline. In order for this to happen you need to measure A. The depth of the main line’s center, and B. The future depth of the new line that will be connected to it. After this you need to do a little math to find the maximum amount of feet you can be in order to keep the decline. The equation goes as this: (A-B) x 4=Max distance the toilet can be from main line. If your location is too far away, you will have to locate it closer or install an ejector sewage pump, which essentially just means you have the extra step of digging into the ground, installing a pump that connects to the main line and the toilet. You can also use this pump to connect to a shower and sink.
Next is to plan out the entire bathroom (including location of sinks and bathrooms). Mark the floor where you will be puttin all these fixtures and the the lines for each drain and how it will connect to the main line.
Now you’re going to have to take a sledgehammer or a jack hammer depending on the density of your cement and make a break in the cement in the direction of the trench line all the way to the main line. Make sure your water is turned off. Now you’re going to want to to cut the main line with your pipe cutter. After you do this you will need to install a Y-fitting. To do this you need to put on rubber couplers over the pipe and install the Y-fitting, tightening the metal rings on the pipe. After your building inspector has okayed your plans, fill in the trench in dirt and put more concrete over it. Smooth out and let dry. Follow the instructions above in order to install the toilet.
There are a lot of options for how to install a basement toilet. It’s important that you understand your limitations and expectations before heading on this project. For those who are looking for a simpler project, a Macerating or Upflush toilet will eliminate the need to dig into the concrete. If you have a rough in pipe, congratulations! No special toilet is needed. All you need to do is connect your toilet to the pipe. Of course for you adventurous people out there, it is possible to create your own rough pipe. And for any tree huggers, we also gave the environmentally friendly option of the Composting toilet. So make sure you check out your basement and see what your options are, always turn the water off before starting your project, and measure, measure, and measure again!