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Old 01-01-2016, 14:18   #1
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"Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Hey Everyone,

I know that this is a bit out in left field for the Cruisers Forum but I don't know anywhere else I can find the wealth of knowledge available here.

I have a mountain cabin of sorts. It started out as a 36' travel trailer and "grew roots" on our mountain property. We have built a nice covered deck and made it quite comfortable.

We collect rainwater for our water supply and drain waste from our RV tanks into a large holding tank. We have the "Porta-Potty" folks come up 3-4 times a year to pump out the storage tank.

This works great for short stays. I have the unfortunate task of attaching the macerator pump and pumping the tanks one time before we leave. No big deal.

Now that we are staying longer (5-6months) I have to pump the black tank once a week.

Now my 14 year old toilet is beginning to have issues that require seal replacement. Sorry... I am not going to tear that thing apart... I think replacement is a far cleaner option.

That got me considering the option of replacing our RV toilet that dumps into the small tank with a marine toilet and plumbing it directly into the large tank. That would eliminate my weekly fun and likely keep the head smelling a bit nicer in warm weather.

What are the potential downsides to using an electric or a manual marine toilet in this application?

How long of a horizontal waste plumbing run is practical?

How much rise in the waste plumbing will they tolerate?

I have pressure water. Will that be an issue?

Thanks!!
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Old 01-01-2016, 14:19   #2
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Have you already ruled out composting heads as an option?
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Old 01-01-2016, 14:32   #3
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

What Canibul says... Seems your needs would be ideally filled by a composter. If I were you I'd look at one of the Sun-Mar's, especially if you have AC, or can mount a reasonable solar panel.

Otherwise one of the marine composters like Nature's Head or Air Head would work.
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Old 01-01-2016, 14:45   #4
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Natures Head and Air Head aren't actually composters...they're dessicators that separate urine from solid waste, which is not necessary on land because liquids can be drained off on land. For any installation on land, a true composter such as one of the SunMar systems is your best option...if for no other reason it may eliminate the visits from the pumper truck altogether.
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Old 01-01-2016, 15:32   #5
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Thanks for the suggestions!!


I have put a lot of thought into the idea of a composting toilet. Given that we only have one toilet and I have some concern over the households' acceptance of something so radically different than what they are used to.


I do plan on adding a composting toilet when the weather warms up. I plan on putting it in a utility building that is not heated. In the summer we are outside all of the time and I think that will give us a low stress introduction.


In the mean time.... I have a toilet, inside, that needs to be replaced and I am getting tired of my weekly poo duty. Yesterday I got to lay down in the snow to fight with a frozen dump valve....


What do you all think of using a marine manual pump or electric toilet to bypass my small built in black tank and pump directly into my large waste tank?


Thanks again.
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Old 01-01-2016, 15:46   #6
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

If terrain allows I would put in a regular septic system.
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:05   #7
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by darylat8750 View Post
If terrain allows I would put in a regular septic system.
Me too...
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:42   #8
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

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Originally Posted by mohave_steve View Post
What are the potential downsides to using an electric or a manual marine toilet in this application? You have pressure water. A marine toilet is a waste of money, and unneeded complications that you will have to deal with, including frequent repair. I would put in a proper dirt-side toilet and put a couple of bricks in the tank to reduce the flush volume to make the waste tank "last longer."

How long of a horizontal waste plumbing run is practical?The waste plumbing line should not have positive slope, but have a bit of negative slope, on the order of a quarter to three eighths inch per foot, if you are using gravity. If you are leaving the RV tank in the system (I wouldn't...would plumb the head directly to the big tank) and if you are going to be using a macerator pump to drain the RV tank, it should be able to lift the waste 100 feet for each 44 psi of discharge pressure, theoretically, but I wouldn't plan on any greater lift than about 50 feet per 50 psi in order to get good flow. Check the macerator pump nameplate to determine how much rise you can design into your system. If the pump has a pump curve (plot of discharge pressure vs flow rate) you should use it rather than the thumb rule.

How much rise in the waste plumbing will they tolerate? I wouldn't design a system that relied on a marine head pump to lift black water. If you have back flow, you have a major stinking problem.

I have pressure water. Will that be an issue? If you have pressure water, put in a proper toilet. Cheaper and simpler...less maintenance.

Thanks!!
If you can legally install a septic tank and drain field, and the ground perks well and isn't rock, allowing you to dig for tank and field installation, I would do that. Your post above seems to say you can't install a septic system for one or more reason. If you can't do it because of legal or permit issues, or don't have enough space for a proper drain field, but can dig a hole for the main tank, I would dig that hole and put the tank in it, remove the RV tank, and let gravity do its thing and avoid the hassle of pumping and the potential for a back flow disaster.

YMMV.
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Old 02-01-2016, 08:48   #9
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

The response about putting in your own leach field makes sense, as does the composting toilet.
If not, I would reccomend a Lavac toilet. It will flush with only about 2 cups of water and it is near impossible to clog, AND it is completely simple, so quite repairable.
I have one in our forward head with the pump mounted on the wall above and behind - 10 years now of full time live-aboard with not a problem though I did replace the seat seals once (no big deal).
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Old 02-01-2016, 08:57   #10
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
Natures Head and Air Head aren't actually composters...they're dessicators that separate urine from solid waste, which is not necessary on land because liquids can be drained off on land. For any installation on land, a true composter such as one of the SunMar systems is your best option...if for no other reason it may eliminate the visits from the pumper truck altogether.
I have read this before, but this has not been our experience. If you add water as needed, to keep the system moist, it does turn to compost.
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Old 02-01-2016, 09:45   #11
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohave_steve View Post
Hey Everyone,

I know that this is a bit out in left field for the Cruisers Forum but I don't know anywhere else I can find the wealth of knowledge available here.

I have a mountain cabin of sorts. It started out as a 36' travel trailer and "grew roots" on our mountain property. We have built a nice covered deck and made it quite comfortable.

We collect rainwater for our water supply and drain waste from our RV tanks into a large holding tank. We have the "Porta-Potty" folks come up 3-4 times a year to pump out the storage tank.

This works great for short stays. I have the unfortunate task of attaching the macerator pump and pumping the tanks one time before we leave. No big deal.

Now that we are staying longer (5-6months) I have to pump the black tank once a week.

Now my 14 year old toilet is beginning to have issues that require seal replacement. Sorry... I am not going to tear that thing apart... I think replacement is a far cleaner option.

That got me considering the option of replacing our RV toilet that dumps into the small tank with a marine toilet and plumbing it directly into the large tank. That would eliminate my weekly fun and likely keep the head smelling a bit nicer in warm weather.

What are the potential downsides to using an electric or a manual marine toilet in this application?

How long of a horizontal waste plumbing run is practical?

How much rise in the waste plumbing will they tolerate?

I have pressure water. Will that be an issue?

Thanks!!
Hi Steve,

As others have mentioned, you sound like you are ready for a composter.

We have one on our boat [Nature's Head] and really like it (our 2nd head still had a water flush toilet, so we have the best of both worlds.)

For land based use, consider investigating the Swedish Separett brand. [Here is their US web site.] From my research, I believe they are among the most elegant of composting toilets [and separate liquids and solids for ease of handling...]

I plan to put one in the cabin we are building on an island in southeast Alaska, and I have 2 close friends who did the same in the last 3 years and absolutely love their Separett units.

In case this is helpful.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:36   #12
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

C-Head portable composting toilet system
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:01   #13
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohave_steve View Post
Hey Everyone,

I know that this is a bit out in left field for the Cruisers Forum but I don't know anywhere else I can find the wealth of knowledge available here.

I have a mountain cabin of sorts. It started out as a 36' travel trailer and "grew roots" on our mountain property. We have built a nice covered deck and made it quite comfortable.

We collect rainwater for our water supply and drain waste from our RV tanks into a large holding tank. We have the "Porta-Potty" folks come up 3-4 times a year to pump out the storage tank.

This works great for short stays. I have the unfortunate task of attaching the macerator pump and pumping the tanks one time before we leave. No big deal.

Now that we are staying longer (5-6months) I have to pump the black tank once a week.

Now my 14 year old toilet is beginning to have issues that require seal replacement. Sorry... I am not going to tear that thing apart... I think replacement is a far cleaner option.

That got me considering the option of replacing our RV toilet that dumps into the small tank with a marine toilet and plumbing it directly into the large tank. That would eliminate my weekly fun and likely keep the head smelling a bit nicer in warm weather.

What are the potential downsides to using an electric or a manual marine toilet in this application?

How long of a horizontal waste plumbing run is practical?

How much rise in the waste plumbing will they tolerate?

I have pressure water. Will that be an issue?

Thanks!!
Put a septic tank in. Easy.
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:08   #14
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

And when considering composting toilets, you might want to consider weighting the validity of responses proportional to those who actually have experience with them.
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:30   #15
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Re: "Alternative" marine toilet installation?

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Originally Posted by Virginia Lee View Post
I have read this before, but this has not been our experience. If you add water as needed, to keep the system moist, it does turn to compost.
It will compost ... eventually. If the tank is left alone, or if the contents are removed and allowed to carry on the process, it will fully compost. The simple fact is that composting heads that are in constant use means the final "deposits" are not given sufficient time to compost.

It's still a non-issue as the material is completely innocuous (as you know), and looks, smells and feels like good moist soil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
And when considering composting toilets, you might want to consider weighting the validity of responses proportional to those who actually have experience with them.
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