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The Straight Poop on
Upflushing Basement Toilets

Sorry... the bathroom humor was irresistible...

Thinker on toiletSo, you've finally decided to put that toilet in the basement? And the drain pipes are "only" three feet above the floor? My friend, in plumbing, 3 feet is as good as 8 feet when it comes to toilet and sink drains.  Some things may flow uphill, but waste water isn't one of them!

You have three options available (not counting chemical and/or composting-type toilets)... one not too good, one good, one really good. The cost increases with each one's benefits.

The first option was a true upflush toilet...

I owned a McPherson upflushing toilet, one of the fist freestanding toilets with a built-in pump, for about 5 years and had nothing but trouble with it.  It functioned by "grinding" the waste into a liquidy soup, then pumping it away... all by using your own home's water pressure.  The waste exited not through a 3-4" drain as in standard plumbing, but through a 1"+  flexible plastic hose connected to a modified cleanout in your homes waste pipes. 

(Since the original penning or this "moving" tale,  The McPherson Company has met its maker... e.g. they have gone out of business!  Owners of these products are now without access to any parts or service unless they are lucky enough to find a local plumber who stockpiled parts.  Unfortunately, I can't help.)

In a moment of whimsy, I used a clear plastic tube for the drain.  I guess my bad taste offended whoever in the other world oversees such things, because the rest of my experience with this toilet was a nightmare. The problems were two-fold.  First, the grinding of the waste released the most foul odor imaginable.  Secondly, too much waste would cause the toilet to clog and overflow.  Ever try to control how much "waste" you put in a toilet.  And, let me tell you, you don't want to be sitting on one of these when you flush it!!  DANGER!! DANGER!!

I am sitting here laughing fitfully, thinking about this magnificent plumbing abomination! When something goes wrong and a friend tells you, "Years from now, you'll laugh about this!"... this is such a tale.

Saniflo upflush toiletSince then upflushing toilets have improved immeasurably!!  You can even use a sink, tub or shower!!

For example, Saniflo markets three types of upflushing toilets, all electrically powered!  The Sani-Plus , is not just a complete upflushing toilet but also allows you to connect a sink or laundry drain to it's small tank, making it a good choice for that basement bathroom (click HERE to view cross-sectional view of the Sani-Plus).

The Sani-Compact (see graphic to left), is a space saving model that has about the same profile as a standard toilet.  The third is a 12-volt marine version (no... not just for a few good men) designed for boats.

Read this special article about the Saniflo toilet system to see if it can work for you!!

WANT A SHOWER OR TUB??  Here's an instruction manual from Saniflo showing tub and shower installation options.

The second solution is a free-standing sewage ejector system...

These are self-contained pump-tank units.  They are intended to sit on the floor, meaning that any fixtures... sinks or toilets... that feed to them will have to be above them. There are even some that are designed to have the toilet bolt directly to them. Gives new meaning to the expression  "The Throne", don't you think?  Anyway, this is a do-it-yourselferZoeller Quik Jon from the word "go".

Before you purchase one, though, get the lowdown from the supplier concerning the type of drain connection you need to make. Examine your pipes and your skills to be sure that you can make the connection yourself... or have a friendly plumber do it for you.

One such unit is known as the Quik Jon from the Zoeller Pump CompanyQuik Jon... aptly named... is a self-contained system that has everything but the toilet, any custom carpentry your room requires and the final plumbing drain and water hookups.  (Graphic supplied courtesy Zoeller Pump Company.)

The third solution is the most powerful and the most difficult installation...

Little Giant wastewater sump cutaway viewIf you need both a powerful and permanent installation, this is the way to go. The sewage ejection system sits in a hole made through the (concrete slab) floor, called a sump. By being beneath the floor, the toilet need only be raised minimally, if at all, to accommodate the flange and waste pipe. There is some cutting of concrete involved in basement through-the-slab installations, contributing to the higher cost and greater installation difficulty.

To the left is a "cutaway view" of a Little Giant system from the Franklin Electric. This package includes a large tank, pump with float valve and check valve. You supply the parts and labor for the electrical and plumbing hookups. Depending on the size of the pump, this system can easily accommodate the waste from multiple toilets, sinks and laundry usage.

Want to purchase your ejector kit online?

No problem!  You can shop online for either of these products at PlumbingSupply.Com. This shameless plug is in appreciation for their help in putting us in contact with Little Giant and Zoeller!

A warning concerning all three upflushing options... EVERYTHING WILL NOT FLUSH!!

Read all documentation that comes with your ejection system... especially concerning restrictions on the "deposits" you make in the bowl! These systems each have some limitations in their ability to handle certain types of non-biological waste... condoms come to mind as one definite no-no... and they WILL clog and possibly be damaged by ignoring the manufacturer's guidelines.

A special, (sniff) sympathetic note for McPherson Upflushing Toilet Owners...

I have had numerous requests from our readers for information on obtaining parts for McPherson brand upflushing toilets. Unfortunately, the company has gone "belly up", and I have been unable to find a source of parts anywhere!

Jerry Alonzy, the founder of Naturalhandyman.com

Written by Jerry Alonzy

Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.

As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.