How to Install a Toilet in a Basement: Your Simple Guide
Do you find yourself with an unfinished and enormous basement and are unsure how to make it habitable? Then, unfortunately, we will have to create a space ourselves for those who weren’t fortunate enough to have a basement with a beautiful den and a couple of bedrooms.
One of the most valuable ways to use your basement space is to make a bathroom. If you end up putting in a spare bedroom or want the convenience of a bathroom downstairs, so you don’t have to go all the way upstairs while watching a movie or hanging out with friends, you will need a bathroom downstairs.
It can seem quite daunting to create a bathroom out of nothing, and to be honest; it is imperative that proper planning and knowledge be applied.
I remember my best friend’s basement had the oddest “bathroom” I had ever seen. It was in what was essentially the laundry room, having the washer and dryer and a sink, and was situated only a foot away from the entrance. Since there was no door, it was very stressful too -ahem- use because you were always worried about being caught doing your business.
No one wants an awkward makeshift bathroom, or a broken water pipe or some other disaster, so that’s why you must understand how you can properly install a basement toilet to avoid any problems and address all particular obstacles you may have to deal with.
Check out the newest toilets you can buy – click here to view our toilet buyer’s guide.
Overview of Basement Toilet Installation:
You definitely can install a basement toilet, but there are several aspects of the job to think about. First, we will go over the main issues you will face and then go into how to solve them. But, first, let’s go over some essential things to consider:
- How much does it cost to install a toilet in your basement? This is the first question you should be asking yourself when preparing. Of course, because this is your basement bathroom, you probably won’t want to shell out significant cash for your toilet, but we will go over some options you have, as well as how much it costs to buy a toilet that will work for your basement.
- What kind of toilet do you want? Upflush? Composting? Macerating? We will go into more detail regarding these toilets later.
- Piping. Do you have a rough or smooth pipe? Is your house older? How strong are your pipes? Where are they located? (to know where you can install the toilet)
These are all main critical points to have planned out before you get into the thick of things. We will go over in greater detail these questions now that the general ideas have been addressed.
Wouldn’t it be a major bummer to have all these plans, buy some of the needed supplies, only to find out that you can’t afford to finish the whole project? But, no need to fear; we’re here to give you a general idea of the price. So how much does it cost to install a toilet in the basement? So, let’s get into it:
- Toilet: Now you don’t need to spend too much on a toilet for your basement unless you want everything uniform and don’t mind spending a lot. An expensive toilet can retail anywhere from $700-$1000. But a general toilet can cost around $300. If you get a used toilet, you can even find some cheaper than that. Search your local advertisement website for second-hand toilets or Home Depot/Lowe’s/ local home department store for a new toilet.
- Installation: If you want to install the toilet into your standard plumbing, you’re going to need someone to help you install; this can cost anywhere from $100-$500, depending on your situation.
- Jackhammer: if you’re installing a specific type of toilet, you’re going to need a jackhammer to bury the pump you need to install. These usually cost about $60 per day.
- Pipe Cutter: Again, for certain types of toilets, you may need a pipe cutter. These can cost about $140
- Pump: Depending on the type of pump, the cost will vary. A pedestal pump costs roughly $58 for a basic one to $170 for the more professional. Submersible pumps can cost from $100-$400. We will go into the differences, perks and cons of each later on.
Types of Toilets for a Basement:
You might be thinking, “can you even install a toilet in a basement if it’s got cement floors?” The answer is “Yes!”. We have to look at specific types of toilets that work specifically for basements. Luckily for us, there are several types of toilets we can use:
Standard Toilet: if you already have a plumbing system in your basement but no toilet, then you can get a standard one. The cost ranges anywhere from $100-$1000
Upflush Toilet: This toilet’s plumbing runs through the ceiling and connects to the main sewage line. A pump is found either within the toilet or behind it, which will move the sewage upwards and out through the piping. You can also add a shower and sink line to the same piping to eliminate a need for more installation. The downside? All the pipes and possibly even the pump is visible. This toilet costs about $600-800.
Sewage Ejector System: With this system, you buy a standard toilet and then install a miniature septic system essentially to go with it. The pump is put below the ground and hooked up to the toilet’s waterline. It can also be hooked up to the sink and shower as well if it is big enough. The pumps can cost anywhere from $400-$700, depending on the tank’s size and quality. It would be best to calculate the additional cost of a toilet, which we have already discussed the price.
Composting Toilets: If you want to be environmentally friendly, you might want to try this out. No water, no installation. The catch? You have to dump out your waste. The toilet has two compartments: One for urine and one for feces. In these compartments, natural decomposers like moss or wood chips are put into it, which will break down the waste and remove odor. It needs to be dumped after about 80 uses (depending on how much you do your business). No cleaning is required as the bacteria from excess waste helps break things down. It’s gross but great for the environment and requires no installation (plus homemade fertilizer…). Composting toilets cost from $1000-$1500, but you’re saving a bit with no installation and no water. Hey, just putting it out there.
Macerating Toilets: This is an upflush toilet with an additional grinding feature that essentially blends up waste making it easier and more effective in being transferred upwards and into the main sewage line. You may install externally or within the wall (this would reduce noise from the grinding). This toilet costs a bit more than the normal upflush, $800-$1000 but is much more effective in avoiding clogs, so that it might be worth the extra money.
If it’s too daunting to figure out how to install a toilet with your basement cement floor, then you can either put a compost toilet in your bathroom or install an upflush/macerating toilet. But, first, let’s go into the details:
Firstly you need to find the area and make sure you have the proper measurements. Keep in mind that if these types of toilets require room for a pump behind them. If you do not give enough space, then it is no easy feat to fix. Make sure that your water supply is cut off, as always when dealing with plumbing.
Locate your soil stack pipe and cut into it to add a Y-connector. This will allow you to add extra pipes to the main one. The Y fitting will attach through PVC piping to either your macerating or standard upflush pump. If you want to conceal your pump within the wall for less noise/ better aesthetic, make sure you have a couple of inches of space between the wall framing and the cement wall.
Ensure you have a water supply and cold water and that the supply-line position is 10-12 inches above the ground. The pump is run on electricity, so run the cord within the wall to the nearest outlet. Protect your outlet from water by covering it with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFGI).
Prepare the pump by ensuring the elbow valve is pointing correctly and secured with a clamp toward the Y-connector. There will be a hole in the middle of the pump that will connect directly into the toilet. Press and twist into place, and use a metal band and washers to secure the toilet’s pipe. If you are concealing the macerator/pump, use an accordion fitting to elongate the distance from the toilet to the pump. Next, use PVC piping to connect from the elbow to the Y-fitting. If you need to use several pipes, ensure that you’ve used a plumber’s cement to seal the cracks.
If needed, connect your pump into the house’s vent system for ventilation by using an accordion fitting that will connect the vent hole to a PVC pipe. Then, make sure you tighten the system with a wrench.
Secure your toilet with screws to the floor. Be careful not to break the porcelain. Attach the water tank to the toilet with nuts and use your hand to tighten the water supply to the tank. Plugin the pump into the outlet. That’s it! When making your walls make sure you use a removable panel behind your toilet for easy access.
Rough-In Pipe Installation:
If your basement has no piping system, then you may want to stick with an upflush, macerating, or composting toilet. However, if you have an existing rough-in pipe from the ground, it is possible to hook up your toilet to said pipe. This isn’t very hard; if this is your case, consider yourself lucky.
Let’s go over the basics of how to install a toilet in a basement with a rough-in pipe:
Ensure your work area is cleared and clean and that the water is turned off in your home. If at all possible, have a buddy there with you to help. Toilets are extremely heavy, and if the porcelain breaks, that’s a costly blunder. Instead, place a wax seal around the pipe and where the toilet will be placed. Begin to insert the bolts closest to you into the toilet’s flanges.
If possible, have a friend help you align the toilet with the seal’s screw holes and place it over the wax seal. Sit down on the stool to make sure the toilet is firmly pressed down. Screw on a washer and then seal with a nut over each flange using a wrench, but be sure not to screw it on too tightly, as that can cause a crack or break in the toilet.
Then all you need to do is assemble the rest of the toilet (put in the handle and put on the top) and then turn your water back on. Voila. Simple as that.
If you don’t already have a rough-in pipe, but the other types of toilets aren’t doing it for you, then that makes matters a lot more complicated.
How to install a rough-in pipe is tricky but not impossible:
Locate the Drain:
- The first thing you need to do is locate the main drain in your basement. This part might be one of the trickiest parts of the process, but it’s imperative that you do because you need to connect your new pipe to the main one for your sewage to be correctly disposed of.
- The way to do this is to find the “main stack,” which is about 3-4 inches wide. It runs from up the sealing down into the basement floor, running out into the street and from there, the sewage is taken away.
- However, before you start immediately drilling, it’s good to know that sometimes the pipe runs at an angle in the basement.
- To tell if this is the case for you, look for the cleanout plug in your basement on the side of the floor facing the street; this will give you the projection that the pipe is going at.
Where to Tap Into the Sewer Line:
- Now that you’ve located the pipe, you can decide where your toilet will be placed and subsequently where you will need to drill your hole. But it would be best if you kept in mind that you can’t choose this location willy-nilly.
- Before you get ready to do this, important information is that for gravity to work in your favor, you need your pipe on a slope of at least a ¼ inch decline. For this to happen, you need to measure A. The depth of the main line’s center, and B. The future depth of the new line that will be connected to it.
- After this, you need to do a little math to find the maximum number of feet to keep the decline. The equation goes like this: (A-B) x 4=Max distance the toilet can be from the mainline.
- If your location is too far away, you will have to locate it closer or install an ejector sewage pump, which essentially means you have the extra step of digging into the ground, installing a pump that connects to the mainline and the toilet. You can also use this pump to connect to a shower and sink.
Map Out Your Bathroom:
- Next is to plan out the entire bathroom (including the location of sinks and toilets). Mark the floor where you will be putting all these fixtures and the lines for each drain and how it will connect to the mainline.
Install the Toilet Drain Pipe:
- Now you’re going to have to take a sledgehammer or a jackhammer, depending on the density of your cement and make a break in the cement in the direction of the trench line to the mainline. Make sure your water is turned off.
- Now you’re going to want to cut the mainline with your pipe cutter.
- After you do this, you will need to install a Y-fitting. To do this, you need to put rubber couplers over the pipe and install the Y-fitting, tightening the metal rings on the pipe.
- After your building inspector has okayed your plans, fill the trench in dirt and put more concrete over it. Smooth out and let dry. Then, follow the instructions above to install the toilet.
Watch this video on How to Install a Basement Toilet:
There are a lot of options for how to install a basement toilet. However, you must understand your limitations and expectations before heading on this project. For those looking for a more straightforward task, a Macerating or Upflush toilet will eliminate the need to dig into the concrete.
Suppose you have a rough-in pipe; congratulations! No unique toilet is needed. All you need to do is connect your bathroom to the line. Of course, it is possible to create your rough pipe for adventurous people out there. And for any tree huggers, we also gave the environmentally friendly option of the Composting toilet.
So make sure you check out your basement and see what your options are; always turn the water off before starting your project, and measure, measure, and measure again!
Also, check – pros and cons of upflush toilet