DEAR JAMES: Our son repairs motorcycles in our garage. We need to install a small half bathroom in there, but the slab floor has no drain. I need tips for adding a bathroom. — Debbie R.
DEAR DEBBIE: There is nothing worse than trying to clean old black motor oil and grease mixed with grit from the doorknobs and floors, not to mention their odor. The very fine grit from brakes and other engine parts works its way into the pores of many sink and vanity materials and is difficult to ever get clean again.
Adding the plumbing to run cold water to the garage is the simplest part of the project. A cold water pipe can be run from any of the bathrooms up through the ceiling and over to the garage. Install at shut-off valve at the source so the water to the garage can shut off from inside the house. To provide hot water in the garage, install a 110-volt inline instantaneous water heater at the garage sink.
There are methods to install a toilet and sink in a room with a slab and no drains below. First, you must consider how cold the garage gets on the coldest winter nights. If it gets below freezing, you will either have to heat it or turn off the water and drain everything during the winter. Making sure the gaskets around the garage door seal well can help a lot.
Installing the toilet is probably most important. You could take your time to use a waterless cleaner on your hands before coming indoors, but the need to use the toilet does not always allow the luxury of extra time to clean up first.
Check the plumbing layout for your home. If you are lucky, you may be able to locate the toilet and sink against a house wall that's near a drain. A little digging through the floor may give you access to a drain. This also will be a warmer location (to avoid freezing pipes in a cold climate).
If you cannot get access to an existing house drain, you will have to install an up flush toilet or a no-water toilet. They look similar to standard toilets. Saniflo, 800-571-8191, www.saniflo.com, makes many models of up flush toilets. Some of these toilets can also function as a drain for the sink (for what's called called grey water).
Up flushing toilets are also called macerating toilets. When these toilets are flushed, an impeller grinds up the wastes, and they are pumped up and out to a drain. These are powerful pumps that can pump wastewater up 12 feet vertically and more than 140 feet horizontally. That should allow you to reach an existing drain.
Your other toilet option is an incinerating toilet. Incinolet, 800-527-5551, www.incinolet.com, makes several models. These toilets operate on electricity and use no water. The wastes are incinerated at a high temperature by electric heating elements. There is no odor, and the ashes are sanitized by the very high temperature.
Either way you go about the toilets selection, this is going to be a fairly expensive project. It would be wise to get a building permit and have your local inspection departments review your plumbing plans initially.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.