Be thankful that we live in the modern age of clean, sanitary plumbing. Things weren’t always so convenient, what with the dainty lifting of a lid, making a deposit and then having it whisked away to some far away place. Today, we’re lucky to have such a luxury as a flushing toilet in our bathrooms. But believe it or not, the battle isn’t completely over.
The war against encroaching sewage rages on in the frontier of basement toilets. For all of the ingenious of John Harrington (yes, that “John) and Thomas Crapper (real name!), today’s toilets largely work thanks to a little omnipresent force we like to call gravity. For toilets above ground, this works perfectly. But while it’s true that everything that goes up must come down, when it comes to basement toilets, what doesn’t quite go down all the way is bound to come back up.
The best defense against a basement toilet that can’t quite defy gravity is an upflush toilet, such as the ones made by Saniflo. But with many homes still sporting their original plumbing and with many renovators and remodelers slow to jump on the macerating, pressure assisted toilets bandwagon, basement toilet disasters are still happening. Don’t believe us? Check out these horrific episodes of basement toilets gone bad – some of which could’ve been prevented by an upflush toilet. You’ve been warned.
Dirty Jobs Fountain of Feces
This little screen shot doesn’t do justice to the hell on Earth that Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs encountered in this unfortunate woman’s basement. Due to a sewage backup, all the sewage from the neighborhood was forced through this unlucky toilet and sprayed throughout the entire basement. You have to watch the entire clip to get the full effect, but be warned – it’s not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).
Kitten Gifts from Above
A poster at the Gardenweb forums related a horror story about an apartment complex they lived in where the upstairs denizens habitually flushed their cat litter down the toilet. All seemed well and good for the folks on the upper floors as they happily purged their cat’s business out of sight and out of mind. But meanwhile, something ominous lurked within the stacks of the apartment building. All that litter kept backing up and backing up until the pipes couldn’t hold anymore and the buildup blew out “with force” through the toilets of the basement apartments, flooding them with sewage, courtesy of their upstairs neighbors. Is this what they mean by “trickle down theory?”
Crude Toilet Humor
This isn’t what it looks like. This AP photo accompanies a story on MSNBC.com about a woman from Texas who came home to discover that her toilet had “burped up” a great volume of what appeared to be crude. Oil, that is. Texas tea. Black gold. It turns out that, like many Texas homes, her house was built atop an old abandoned oil well, except this one apparently hadn’t been properly plugged. Of course, this problem wouldn’t have been solved by a macerating, upflush toilet. But we’re including this shot just for the imagery. This could be your basement toilet – except it won’t be oil you’re dealing with.
Leaky Pipe “Fix” Brings New Meaning to “Hitting the Can”
This was submitted to the facetiously named ThereIFixedIt.com. While the cheapskate, not-so-handyman who submitted this photo isn’t identified, a licensed plumber familiar with aging pipe systems confirmed that this indeed an issue with homes with older pipes. No one confirmed whether the bucket was labeled properly or not, nor who would be responsible for emptying it. Either way, this is an unenviable situation.
Paper Towels Lead to Disaster
Another Gardenweb forum poster passed along a story about their recently renovated full bathroom in the basement. The full bath was meant to be used by the guests in the adjacent guest room, so they were excited to show off their handiwork when they had their first overnight guests. So intent on impressing, they cleaned the bathroom spotless but made one fatal error: they attempted to flush some paper towels. Needless to say, without any kind of macerating action or pressure assisted flush, the whole bathroom got clogged and started backing up. The toilet overflowed and even the shower began backing up with sewage. Luckily, the guests were good-natured and easygoing – but it ended up being a costly mistake to clean up after the plumber’s bill.
Bad Moon (or Something Far, Far Worse) Rising
Unfortunately, the next story strikes very close to home – my home, to be exact. I didn’t get any good pictures at the time of this disaster, but to get a good idea of what I was dealing with, imagine my basement drain (pictured below) and then imagine this Golgothan “poop monster” from the movie Dogma squeezing its way through it and you get the picture.
Our basement was hidden beneath a trap door in the living room floor, so it’s unclear how long this pool of terror lay festering in our basement. The smell tipped us off one fateful day and upon investigating, I discovered that our basement had been transformed into a 20 foot lagoon of filth. The plumber we paid (handsomely) to deliver us from the Golgothan in our basement advised that we stop flushing “wipes,” because our older pipes were too small to accommodate the paper matter. In spite of the fact that we had never purchased a wipe, let alone flushed one, his advice was prudent. Our toilets weren’t flushing with the proper gusto to purge solids (q-tips, kleenex, paper towels, etc.), and inevitably, the thing backed up again, but this time it was uglier, since I decided to snake the thing myself instead of shelling out $297 to have someone else do it.
Anyway, the lack of pressure could have been handled again by a pressure assisted flush while the problem with solids not making it through would’ve been helped by a macerating system.
Upflush: It’s Electric, Not Magic
One wise homeowner made the right choice for their basement toilet and went with an upflush system. To celebrate the renovation of their basement, they held a little party. However, a circuit blew and the power went out. Not quite understanding how an upflush motor works, partygoers continued using the commode in spite of the power outage. Needless to say, the thing eventually backed up and flooded the basement, effectively ruining the party (and the floor).
Lesson: Upflush toilets, really, really work – but not without electricity! If there’s no power, use the upstairs bathroom!
Thinking about an Upflush Toilet?
We don’t mean to use scare tactics to promote the benefits of a good, upflush toilet. There are much happier positives to installing an upflush or Saniflo system that don’t have to do with preventing a tidal wave of toilet regurgitation. For one, upflush toilets let you put toilets in places where it wasn’t possible (or prudent) to place a conventional toilet, such as basements, attics and beneath stair wells. This adds accessibility and convenience as well as significant value to your home, since you can list it with one extra bathroom. Most Saniflo systems also connect easily with a gray water pumping system, which will cut down on your utility bills and conserve water.
So. what would you rather have? A basement full of toilet water and who knows what else? Or a more valuable home with another bathroom complete with a water-efficient, space-saving toilet? Check out some of the Saniflo upflush toilets we have on offer – you’ll notice that some of them are priced lower than what you’d pay a plumber to come in and fix a costly (and disgusting) mess caused by the wrong kind of toilet for your basement.