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How to fix an environmentally friendly toilet plumbing in the bathroom!

Updated on September 6, 2011

To have a water-flushing toilet – or not to have, that is the question!

To have a water flushing toilet - a human right?

Sometimes and for some people this plumbing question seems to be the most important thing when it come to remodeling or do a new bathroom! I meat them all the time in my work. Before I started at my current job I had no idea that toilets can be so important to people. And with some it doesn’t stop there, no; it is also very important which type of water-flushing toilet they have! But mostly, they look on the design rather than the function!

In this hub I will tell you how you can have a water flushing toilet with all the comfort we are used to and make a big difference for the environment at the same time. You can do this whenever you like, but it is probably more convenient to do the change during a plumbing remodeling or when you install a new plumbing in your bathroom.

In the municipal where I work as an environmental and health inspector we put a lot of energy in saving the marine environments and freshwater environments. A way to do that is to reduce the on going eutrophication in water environments.

In many lakes and confined marine habitats there are big problems with eutrophication and the problems increase at the same speed as the population grows. There are a few causes to this leakage of nutrients to water environments and one of the biggest cause is human sewage.

I am totally aware of the benefits of a water toilet from user perspective. It is clean, fresh and your faeces and urine is simply just gone! But the problem is that it isn’t gone, it is only out of sight! All water-flushing toilet is in fact a mad invention! We use fresh clean drinkable water to get rid of human waste. But after usage it isn’t clean anymore and sooner or later this water will reach a water environment; either the groundwater, a lake or marine waters.

Hopefully the wastewater is cleaned from viruses and bacteria and some of the nutrients will be reduced in wastewater treatments. But no matter how effective these wastewater treatments are, some of the nutrients will reach a water environment and affect habitat there.

Eutrophication! | Source

So, how do we solve these problems in our bathroom?

The best way to reduce leakage of nutrient to water is of course not to mix the human waste with water in the first place. The method to use dry toilets and compost latrine is the number one method. There are so many different dry toilets on the market and there is a dry toilet for everyone’s taste! I will not get into the different types of dry toilets but it is an old and proven technic that work if the owner put some energy in maintenance.

But if you, for some reason, don’t like the idea of handling the latrine and if you really want a water-flushing toilet you can! And you can still make a big different for the environment.

The way to do it is to install a double flushing urine separation toilet or a non-mix toilet!

The difference between them and an ordinary water toilet is that urine separation water toilets have two receptacles: one for urine and one for faeces! The bowl for urine varies a bit in size between different toilet models. The urine is separated to a storage tank together with the small amount of water that is used to flush the urine receptacle.

It really makes so much sense! Why mix something that is divided from the beginning? And then also have so much trouble trying to separate it afterwards! Isn’t it better to design the toilets so they fit how humans are created?

This is how it is done!
This is how it is done! | Source
Another variant!
Another variant! | Source

The human urine contains about 98% of the nitrogen and about 68 % of phosphorous of the total amount of nutrients in a traditional closet sewage.

The benefits with urine separation!

By separating the urine in our bathroom we have done a great difference to the environment!

The nutrients in urine are in perfect composition for the plants to receive. So therefor urine is great to use as fertilizer in your own garden, provided that you have enough land, or a farmer can use urine as fertilizer on cultivated land. By using urine instead of artificial fertilizers a lot of energy is saved because production of artificial fertilizer demands a lot of energy.

Another benefit with this type of toilets is that they reduce water consumption because the forward cavity for urine is flushed with a small amount of water compared to a traditional toilet. Most of our visits to the toilet during a day are to pee and it is a big waste to use the big flush just for urine.

Things to think about!

You will need two separate pipes from the toilet and out from the building. The urine is flushed with a small amount of water to a storage tank. The faeces are flushed away for treatment in a wastewater treatment plant.

The double flushed toilets need a bit more maintenance than a traditional toilet. The most common problem is urinary crystallization. To avoid this or clear a blocked pipe you can use caustic soda or citric acid. To avoid stop you can use 70- 80 ° water now and then.

Stop in the pipe caused by hair and paper can be taken care of by using a clearing wire.

The most important thing ti consider is to install the pipes in the right way because it will save so much trouble later on. The way to do it is to install the pipes for urine with at least 1% fall in the building and never use less than 50 mm diameter pipes inside the building. The main thing is to get enough inclination of the urine pipes in order to avoid unnecessary urine crystallization.

If you want to use the urine on your own property you might need a permission from your Environmental department because there are some requirements that needs to be followed. The best way to make use of the urine is if you can find a farmer that can use the urine as fertilizer on farmed land.

So, by using a double flushed urine separation toilet you can:

  • Decrease the amount of water usage
  • Decrease the amount of artificial fertilizer and energy consumption
  • Decrease the amount of nutrients to the water environment

And you will become a part of a natural cycle in your bathroom in an easy way!


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    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Kaeld, As I said in my comment above, in Sweden we always have our sewage drains inside the house, not outside. And we do not have to have access to all of the drains. If the draining is done with a minimal of turns and no sharp angles there really is no problem. The ventilation from the drain goes up over the roof. There is no need for pumps or such either, it is all about natural flow and straight drains. The toilet in the article has no built in tank, the tank is on the outside, in the ground. Thank you for the comment


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 4 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Flavio, I understand what you mean, but here in Sweden we have all the drains inside the houses and the ventilation from the drains goes up over the roof and outside the houses. It works perfectly. I guess every country have different regulations about how it should be done so maybe I should add that the article describes the Swedish way,

      Thanks for the comment, it is interesting though, that it can be done in so many ways!


    • profile image

      Kaeld 4 years ago

      Like some others say, check your sewer lines. If you do not have acecss (which you should) then the DIY is to break your floor and install a sewage sump and an ejector pump. Make sure your toilet is close by to reduce your digging. Don't forget the vent pipes..either connected to the existing or run a new one outside code is usually out the roof. I have tried these toilets/showers with built in tanks and pumps and macerators and they were like $1000 and broke down within a year and are loud and raised off the ground and just not nice' I bought a plastic pit for $30 and used a sledge and shovel to break and dig some ABS piping and joints a sewage pump for $180 hooked to the drain in the ceiling and the existing vent and boom. Well under $1000. If a pro does it you will be paying approx. $2000 plus. Or maybe you could just put in a door and an outhouse outside .. Was this answer helpful?

    • profile image

      Flavio 4 years ago

      I think you are asking for a whale of a lot of prmboels down the road! Of course supply water can be run from existing pipes hot and cold water are no problem but drains are a problem as you describe! And yes, they make pumps, etc. for sewage and one day they will screw up, stop up, get something caught in the valve, etc .and you will have sewage back washing out the toilet from up stairs never fails to happen! Were I you, I would locate my main sewage line outside, cut through the founddation/block wall, and run a line to the sewer. AND you must have a stack for this line after the toilet drain at least, it must vent to the outside, and it must be higher than the highest drain upstairs! a 2 stack can be turned, twisted, etc. to fit wherever it must go, but it cannot just run up through a floor! It has to run up through walls, vent out the top of the roof with adequate flashing to roof, OR go up outside of house to above the roof. You do not want sewer gas lurking about. These are issues you should have planned before building, and I can only assume this was done without permits. IF you do not clean up this mess now, you are going to have a very difficult road to hoe when you try to sell the house, and ALL houses hit the market one day fix it right the first time and your worries will be over. Your drain to the street will be lower than necessary for what you want to do, but check this all out with a plumber! This is not a place to learn plumbing, especially drains and do NOT vent line to inside house. Sewer gas is poisonous and in some instances, explosive! Good luck Was this answer helpful?

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Alicia, I am so glad you liked this idea! And it do make sense when locking at the toilet:))

      I hope this type of toilet will be more known and used in the future. Thank you for coming by, it is always good to see you!


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The double flushing or non-mix toilet sounds like a wonderful idea! I've never heard of a toilet like this before, but it makes so much sense and would be so much better for the environment. Thank you for the useful and interesting information, Tina.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Cloverleaf, yes, I know a bit about this although it may be an odd field:)) It is good to be able to spread info about things that can make such a difference! You are a good hubfriend and I so appreciate your comment!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Kashmir, you always have something nice to say and I am glad that I could show you this clever invention! This toilet isn´t so very common in Sweden but it is pretty well known. The reason that it is not so common yet can be due to the fact that a system to take care of the urine needs to be developed. But where the system is present it works very well!

      I hope all is well with you Tom, and thanks for your great comment!

      Take care my friend,


    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Tina,

      You've certainly done your research here - I'm impressed by your very well explained hub! I've learned something new today.


    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, a very interesting and well written hub, i have never heard of this type of toilet before (double flushing urine separation toilet) . Are they common in Sweden ?

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      HI hofficoffi, it is so nice to see you! That might be one of the problems:)) Many men find it difficult to sit down but there are also some men that don't mind. Otherwise, it is an easy solution to one of the big environmental problems! Thanks for your encouragement, it is always good to get feedback!!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Will, maybe it is more known in Europe for some reason! But I believe it will be useful everywhere where people are living and use water toilets. I guess the eutrophication problems are the same in many areas. Thanks for the comment Will and for your visit!


    • hofficoffi profile image

      hofficoffi 6 years ago from Sweden

      Thank you for giving this information in such an easy-to-understand way! I wonder if the spreading of this separation toilet would go much more faster if it wasn´t for the fact the men has to sit while peeing?!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I'd never heard of this. Very interesting.


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