Installing a toilet in your basement is an excellent way to maximize your living space. It can transform your ground floor from a drab storage area into another full story of entertainment.
Placing a restroom on the ground floor isn’t necessarily difficult, especially if you already have a sewage system and main water supply (as most homes do). However, when the main line is above the basement level, homeowners can run into issues when placing a toilet on the ground floor.
In 1665, Isaac Newton discovered gravity. If you attempt to install a toilet below the main water line of your home, Newton’s discovery may cause you quite a bit of hassle. When you flush a toilet on any other level of your home, gravity helps move the waste into sewage. However, when this line is above your new basement restroom, gravity will work against you.
Never fear; there are ample solutions to install a fully functioning toilet below the main water line of your home. Let’s get creative and expand your home living space to the ground floor.
Pro Tip: Only attempt this project if you have some DIY experience and the proper tools. If not, a plumber is just a phone call away.
Table of Contents
- Issues with a Basement Toilet Install
- The Basics (Installation)
- Basement Toilet Solutions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Bottom Line
Issues with a Basement Toilet Install
Sometimes, the main water line of your home may not be located in your basement. This can make it excessively difficult to install a toilet and may cause you to want to give up on the process entirely. Don’t do that – there are plenty of unique solutions like upflush toilets and composting options that our bathroom experts know all about.
We know, breaking concrete basement floors can be quite an ordeal. It often requires more than one person and a skill level well beyond the basics. To install a basement toilet, breaking concrete is often necessary to access drain lines. This goes above and beyond your average DIY project and definitely should not be done by beginner home improvers.
The Basics (Installation)
Install Step 1: Locating Rough-in and Plumbing
The first step to installing a toilet is locating the rough-in and plumbing connections. In most cases, the rough-in will be between 10 and 14 inches from the wall, which makes it easy to find. If you are not versed in toilet talk, a rough-in is where plumbing lines enter a house, but final connections have not yet been made. This is where you will connect your new toilet lines to.
You must also find the water supply pipes. They tend to be located around nine inches above the floor, usually behind the drain. In some cases, a flange will already be installed, but it could be installed too high or too low. Especially in older homes, locating these important lines may be tricky.
If you’re getting frustrated trying to find the rough-in lines, this video can help provide some clear direction.
Pro Tip: If the lines are installed too high, you can simply cut them down and add a new flange. If it’s installed too low, you will need a flange extender, which you can find at a relatively low price in most hardware stores. Fixing issues does not have to cause stress!
Install Step 2: Preparation
The golden rule of plumbing work: always turn off your home’s water supply before getting started. Unless you want to get doused in water and potentially flood a room or two in your home, that is.
If you want to turn your basement restroom into a full bath with a shower, tub, or other fixtures, you may also need to dig a trench to attach the drainage to the toilet’s line. We’re talking toilets here, but this is an excellent video for anyone hoping to learn the basics of trenches.
Pro Tip: Some homes require the utility company itself to cut off their water line. Check with your provider to see if you can do it yourself or not.
Install Step 3: The Toilet Flange
A flange is a pipe that mounts a toilet to the ground and connects it to the drain pipe. When installing the flange, the first thing you must do is inspect the drain pipe. A drain pipe comes in many shapes and forms. It may be metal, ABS, or another material entirely. Whatever you do, make sure the flange is made from the same material to avoid a toilet disaster.
If your drain pipe is not at floor level, you need to cut it down. Once you do this, remove the cap with a hammer.
Pro Tip: Toilet drains don’t smell like a bouquet of roses. Stuff it with a cloth to avoid a foul smell wafting around during installation.
All toilet flanges have four holes. You will need to ensure that two of the four holes are at the same distance from the wall so that the toilet can sit straight. With a hand drill, prepare the holes in the flange, and then use the hammer drill to make holes in the floor. Clean the drainpipe and the flange with fine sandpaper and add adhesive to both ends.
Pro Tip: Make sure to buy the proper adhesive based on your flange and drainpipe material.
Next, insert the flange, ensuring it has enough adhesive applied. Fix the flange to the ground using concrete screws, and your flange is installed!
Install Step 4: The Shutoff Valve
Installing the shutoff valve is pretty simple – similar to the flange, you’ll start by turning off your water supply. Once you do this, cut the end of the pipe and de-burr the rough end with sandpaper. Slide the compression nut onto the pipe. Make sure that it goes as far as possible.
Once the compression ring is in the correct position, ensure that it fits properly, and then attach the compression valve over the ring. Finally, tighten the compression nut and inspect it to ensure that nothing leaks. If everything is fine, that’s it – you have successfully installed the shutoff valve.
Install Step 5: The Toilet
Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to have someone help out with this step. Toilets are a two-person job!
To start installing your new basement toilet, install the closet bolts. If you have any plastic clips to hold the bolts in place, add them as well. After this, install the flange seal. Be careful here – you can use wax for the seal, but if there is no one around to help you out, it’s better to use a seal with no wax. Put the tank in the proper position, and make sure that you lift it over the closet bolts.
Pro Tip: Install the bowl first and then the tank.
Screw the nuts onto the toilet bolts carefully. If you tighten them too much, you might break the bowl. Then, connect the water supply somewhere between the shutoff valve and the fill valve and turn on the water. Inspect for any possible leaks. If everything is fine, your toilet is ready for use!
Install Step 6: Covering Exposed Pipes
So you just installed your stunning new toilet, but unsightly exposed pipes are now lining your restroom. Never fear, there are three methods to solve this problem.
Method 1: Cover the pipes with fabric or decorative tape. This is the easiest and least involved method. It is perfect for those who don’t mind the retro look of exposed pipes and want an art project instead of something more tedious.
Method 2: Paint the pipes to match the bathroom color, or paint them with an accent color to add a unique look to your bathroom. We believe that this is the best method to use. It gives pipes a clean look without having to break out the construction tools.
Method 3: Hide the pipes by building a box to cover them.
Note: Depending on your municipality, you might also need to install a fan in your bathroom. A fan is a great way to control moisture and avoid bad smells in your bathroom, so we recommend doing this anyway.
Basement Toilet Solutions
In some cases, the drain line will be above your ground floor. This can make installing a basement toilet difficult. In even more cases, you may not have the skillset, manpower, or time to break concrete and access drain lines in your basement. Don’t stress. There are ample solutions to get that basement toilet anyway.
Solution 1: An Upflush Toilet
We believe that an Upflush toilet is the best solution for anyone looking to install a toilet anywhere in their house, hassle-free. Upflush toilets have the same features and usage of regular toilets. The only difference is where the waste goes when you flush.
While typical toilets use gravity to send waste off into sewage, an upflush toilet has a special pump behind it with the purpose of waste disposal. It takes up so little space that bathroom visitors may not even notice the difference between this and a commonly installed toilet.
When an upflush toilet is flushed, the waste is ground down using a macerator and then fully disposed of, making it empty for the following toilet user.
Installing an Upflush Toilet
Installing an Upflush toilet is a much easier process than standard toilet installation. Simply drill the macerator into the floor, plug it into an outlet, connect drainage to rough-in lines using PVC piping, and attach the drainage from the toilet to the macerator using a hose clamp. Attach free air vents, slip the discharge tube into the macerator pump, and position the upflush toilet.
Pro Tip: Zip ties can help keep the drain connecting the toilet to the pump in place.
Solution 2: A Composting Toilet
Composting toilets are completely dry, meaning you do not need to connect them to plumbing at all. They simply compost human waste in a low cost, low maintenance manner. Assembly takes seconds. All you need to do is slide the pieces of the toilet together and add a carbon additive to digest the waste.
Composting toilets do not create sewage (or a biohazard) as they separate liquids from solids. Believe it or not, these toilets do not smell (this is a common misconception). Waste goes into a secure chamber with a closeable lid. You also only need to empty them every few months, the composting process does most of the hard work for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need a Special Toilet for My Basement?
Not exactly. However, as you can see, the installation process can be quite different than when installing a toilet in another place in the house. This is helpful to keep in mind when picking out your toilet. If you do not want to (or cannot) go through the normal toilet installation process, invest in an upflush or composting toilet.
What Is the Total Cost of Adding a Toilet to the Basement?
The average price for installing the toilet in your basement is around $1,500. However, the price can greatly differ depending on the model you want to install and if you wish to do it by yourself or call the plumber. In some cases, the cost could go over $2,000.
Is there a way to Install the Toilet in a Basement without Breaking Concrete?
If you don’t want to break the concrete, you can install an upflush toilet or composting toilet. Both of these options require minimal installation and are great options for a low hassle job.
Adding a toilet to your basement isn’t difficult. Make sure that you have all the right tools and an extra set of hands. As long as you carefully follow the installation guidelines for your toilet, you should have your new toilet installed in no time!