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Is a Composting Toilet Right For You? 5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Is a Composting Toilet Right For You? 5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Composting toilets are an alternative type of toilet that converts human waste into organic matter, or compost, that can be added back to your garden soil. While it’s true that modern composting toilets are clean and odorless and relatively easy to install, they aren’t necessarily the best option for everyone. Buying a composting toilet isn’t an inexpensive venture, either. For a good system, consumers should expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the type of unit and capacity needed. So how do you determine if a composting toilet is right for you before spending the money? We’ll address the top 5 critical questions you should ask yourself before making this important decision.

1. Why are you interested in a composting toilet? For most people, their answer will fall into one of two categories: Either you are extremely eco-conscious and want to do your part to conserve water and help the environment, or else you are looking for cost savings. There really isn’t any incorrect answer to this question, and both of the reasons listed above are good ones. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to evaluate your motives to be sure that a composting toilet is the best solution for you.

2. Are you handy enough to be able to install the unit yourself? Because composting toilets are not extremely common, it may be difficult to find a professional installer. Most composting toilet systems are relatively easy to install, particularly self-contained units. Before purchasing any system though, it’s always a good idea to download the product installation guide and review all the steps so you’ll understand what is involved in installing the unit.

3. Would you personally be willing to perform any necessary maintenance? For the same reason that it’s difficult to find a professional installer, it may also be difficult to find a repair person who is familiar enough with composting toilets to perform any necessary repairs or maintenance. In most cases, the manufacturer will be happy to talk you through any potential repairs, provided that you are capable of doing the work yourself.

4. Does a composting toilet meet code in your municipality? In many towns and cities across the U.S., composting toilets are not mentioned in building code, and this is usually because no one has ever installed one yet. Don’t be afraid to be a trailblazer. Print out all the detailed specifications for the unit you’re interested in, take the information to your city council or local building department, and request that they review and approve the toilet as an acceptable fixture. Most cities will approve composting toilets without any argument once they realize that they are clean and sanitary systems.

5. Do you have a means of connecting the emergency overflow drain? Most composting toilets have some type of emergency overflow drain hookup, so that if the unit is overused or cannot evaporate liquids fast enough to meet usage needs, the excess liquid will have someplace to go. Again, you may have to check with your local building code to see if you can connect the emergency drain to a sewer, leach field, french drain, or some other approved facility.

For many homeowners, a composting toilet is a great solution for saving water and money and helping out the environment in the process. Once you’ve evaluated all the options and asked yourself the questions above, you should be prepared to make a good, informed decision about whether a composting toilet is right for you and your family.