5 Things Homeowners Need to Know about Continuous Composting Toilets

The average American family uses a staggering 400 gallons of water every day, and more than one-quarter of this water is flushed down the toilet. If you live in a drought-stricken part of the country and need to use less water, installing waterless toilets, such as continuous composting toilets, is an easy way to comply with the water restrictions. Here are five things you need to know about continuous composting toilets.

How do they work?

Unlike your current toilets, continuous composting toilets don't require any water and aren't connected to a sewer or a septic system. They have a traditional-looking bowl and seat, but the bottom of the bowl drains into a composting chamber, not a pipe. These toilets have a trap door that separates the bowl from the composting chamber to keep you safe from unpleasant sights and smells.

The waste then breaks down within this chamber, eventually turning into a rich compost. This finished compost then makes its way to the end-product chamber, where you can shovel it out and either spread it on your garden or bury it, depending on the laws in your area.

Where can they be installed?

Continuous composting toilets require enough underfloor space to fit the composting chamber, so they're best suited for main floor bathrooms. The composting chamber can then be built in your basement, where it will be out of sight.

The composting process works best in a warm environment, so ideally, your toilet will be installed on the sunny side of your house. Your plumber can help you determine which of your current toilets can most easily be replaced with continuous composting toilets.

If some of your toilets can't be replaced with continuous composting toilets, your plumber can recommend appropriate waterless alternatives for those bathrooms.

How are they installed?

Your plumber will place the toilet in the desired position and then install a composting chamber directly underneath it. A hatch will need to be installed on the exterior of your home to allow you to access the finished compost from outdoors.

Once the chamber is in place, a vent pipe will need to be installed, as well as a powered air inlet and exhaust to drive fumes up the pipe. The fumes will be released above your roof line.

How are they maintained?

Continuous composting toilets require more maintenance than traditional flush toilets, but this additional maintenance is fairly simple. Every time you use the toilet, you'll need to remember to drop carbon-based material like dry leaves or wood shavings into the chamber. This prevents the waste from compacting and also helps it break down into compost.

You also need to shovel the finished compost out of the end-product chamber, though fortunately, this doesn't need to be done very often. The frequency varies based on how many people are using the toilet and the design, but you can expect to empty it as frequently as every six months or as rarely as every three years, according to Your Home.

Does the compost chamber smell bad?

It seems like common sense that having a large chamber of decomposing human waste in your basement would make your house smell terrible, but this isn't true. As long as you maintain the system properly (by adding carbon-based material and removing finished compost), it won't smell at all. Bad smells are a warning sign that something is wrong with the system, so if you notice any odors, call a plumber right away.

If water restrictions are in effect in your area, an easy way to comply with them is installing waterless toilets. Contact a plumber in your local area to install this eco-friendly option in your home.