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I have a cottage that until recently was on piers. The plumbing lines are at the base of the cottage as there never was a basement. The cottage was built in 1905. They are in the home stretch of blocking it to have a closed real basement. I would like to put a small toilet, sink and possible stand up shower down there. What are my options to pump up sewage and shower or sink water? The new plumbing would be below the sewer line, so all the waste has to be pumped somehow up.

The last 4 courses of blocks are left undone and the floor is not poured yet. Other than purchasing those expensive plumbing units with built in pumps, do I have any alternatives? Many people have basement bathrooms and I do not understand how this would work.

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Most people with basement plumbing have a main sewage drain that is lower than the floor of the basement. If it's not, the only option you have is to use a pumping system. It's the only way to combat gravity. :) –  DA01 May 23 at 16:12
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2 Answers 2

As @DA01 says, the vast majority of basements with plumbing are arranged with septic/sewer lines that are lower than the basement floor.

To do otherwise requires pumping sewage, there is no other way. Excrement flows downhill. My first suggestion is DON'T! A sewage pump, like any other mechanical device, will fail eventually. If anyone misbehaves, it will fail sooner than might otherwise be expected, at least temporarily. Every time it fails, someone has to open the chamber it lives in up (smelly) and service it (yucky and smelly.) If that's not going to be you, you still get to smell it and you get to pay for it being yucky, smelly work.

If you choose to go there anyway, you can use normal plumbing fixtures and reduce the amount of yuck in the house somewhat by placing the sewage ejector pump in a copious (plan extra capacity for failures and power outages so things don't back up into the basement) basin exterior to the house with a manhole for access. You'll want an alarm system on this to notify you when there are problems with it. Using a rail & valve system that allows servicing the pump without having to enter the hole (pulling it up by an attached cable on a rail system that valves off the exit pipe when the pump is removed) will increase up-front cost but can lower service costs significantly.

My own septic system is religiously pump-free, at least in part because I have lived (in shared housing) where sewage was pumped uphill. Pump failures there have included a squirrel (or some sort of rodent carcass - presumably entering at the roof vent), non-flushable sanitary products that were flushed, bobby pins, pump wear from old age, every power outage. Additional failures have included failed check valves, non-functional float switches, and the pump becoming dislodged from its output connector.

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with an up-flush pumped system. I have installed dozens of them, some over 20 years old and had little problems. the up pump is the only way you can have plumbing fixtures lower than the sewer line outlet. There are several models and styles available. Some require a 4 inch platform for the toilet, some allow floor mounting with a special toilet that works with the pump and tank. the actual pumps are normally easy to remove and service. A vanity sink can also be drained into the same holding tank, so you can easily have a half bath. The cost is usually about $1000 installed. Steer clear of the real cheap ones. I prefer the mount on the tank types if you have the headroom. This allows you to use any standard toilet. the pump access is in the back. I have had one in my personal home basement office for 26 years without a single failure. They can be a little noisy when the pump kicks on, but that is a small compromise.

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