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Tips for Adding a Basement Bathroom

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Chris in Tennessee’s up next and you’re thinking about adding a bathroom to the basement. Tell us about your project.

    CHRIS: Yes, I am thinking about adding a bathroom to the basement but I have a slight bit of a problem.

    TOM: Let me guess, Chris. Does it have to do with gravity?

    CHRIS: Yes, as a matter of fact it does have to do with gravity. (laughing) And digging. (laughing)

    TOM: Alright.

    CHRIS    : And what we do about this. The house was built in ’67. When it was built, it was on a septic system.

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: And sometime after that, before I bought the house, it switched over to city water and sewer. The … it’s a ranch home and the basement is mostly underground; not all the way. There’s a drive-in garage. The sewer pipe is midway up the back wall in the garage.

    TOM: Right.

    CHRIS: So what I want to do is add a bathroom over … you know, within the basement.

    TOM: Right.

    CHRIS: But the problem is, you know, with the sewer being halfway up that wall, I’ve either got to – from what I understand – either pump it up to that …

    TOM: Right.

    CHRIS: … or my other thought is maybe if I were to drop that whole sewer pipe down and dig in, you know, in the garage area and go that route. But I don’t know what’s the best way to do it.

    TOM: Or you could build a throne, like about four feet tall and just sort of climb up there to use the bathroom. (laughing)

    CHRIS: You know. And actually, I think I’m worthy of that. (laughing)

    LESLIE: That’s why they make gold toilets.

    TOM: That’s right.

    CHRIS: It’s not a bad idea.

    TOM: There you go, Chris. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit. Next question. (laughing)

    Alright, well Chris, this is not a difficult problem. It seems impossible, but there’s a solution and you mentioned it before. It is a pump. It’s called a lift pump. And (audio gap) grinds up the waste and then pumps it up high enough so that gravity can, in fact, take over and drop it down the typical drain waste vent pipe. It’s not terribly difficult to put in. It does, of course, involve breaking open the floor.

    So as long as you can get the demolition done, it can be installed. It’s a little noisy. It’s going to run, you know, all the time. It may not run with every flush but as it fills up, it will just kick on because it’s float actuated just like a sump pump is. But I’m telling you, they use them everyday. They work very well. They’ll work for many, many years. They don’t cause a lot of problems. The only thing you have to remember, Chris, is if you have a power failure, don’t use the bathroom toilet in the basement.

    CHRIS: Oh, I didn’t think of that.

    LESLIE: Mm. (laughing)

    CHRIS: That’s an issue, isn’t it?

    TOM: It could be. It could be. Or you can just get a backup generator. But really, it’s not a bad project and it’s the way to add a bathroom to the basement. And if you’re going to put a … you know, do a home remodeling project, there’s nothing that adds value like a bathroom … like adding a bathroom to your house. It really does pick up the value.

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