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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Nate's Outhouse / Privy construction
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Nate R
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 11:08 - Edited by: Nate R
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When doing my research, some of the outhouse info and feedback is a bit limited. So wanted to share my experience.

Goals: Clean, "nice" outhouse, no smell, pleasant to use. When my wife agreed to have a piece of land with no septic to keep it cheaper, her caveat is that we build a nice outhouse.

We purchased our land last year, a few acres of 60 year old planted Red Pine forest.

Had to pay someone to dig the hole to verify that it wasn't over high groundwater in order to get a privy permit in this county. The guy we found brought in a full size excavator, leaving us with a large 5x7 hole, bigger than the structure we were going to put up!




So, we made some cribbing to bring the hole down to about 42" square. Right about 4' deep.



Dropped that in the hole, and then added some treated 4x4s across it to rest on undisturbed soil. Soil is almost exclusively sand and sandy gravel, so it's easy to work and drains well.



Filled back in around the cribbing, added a vent pipe and floor framing.



And a floor



Added wall framing.



Installed utility windows that open and have insect screens. Used pine carsiding (T&G) as sheathing and siding.



We added tinted polycarbonate roofing. This structure is under the tree canopy, so that provides some shade. The tinted stuff we were hoping would prevent it from getting too hot inside the outhouse.





Added an inswinging exterior door, with the hope that weatherstripping, etc will keep some of the bugs out instead of your standard plywood outhouse door. This slab of concrete was on our land as garbage someone else put there, so rolled it over to use as a stoop.




Put down VCT tile as a floor.
Added a fiberglass toilet ring from [url=http://www.farnorthfiberglass.com/ ]Far North Fiberglass [/url]<--- I thought using fiberglass rather than a wood bench would be better for smell.....Nothing can soak into fiberglass, it's impervious. Wood has pores.



Stained the outside, painted the door, painted the vent pipe a dark color.



After an extended weekend of use, it was clear the vent by itself wasn't going to do the job. Fortunately, I had another plan from the beginning. We had installed a fan in the vent pipe. One used normally for venting composting toilets. 1.4W fan, 7 CFM. Installed a solar setup to power it for now. Eventually, I will hook it into our larger 12V system.



Ran a wire from the fan to a waterproof plastic box, half buried the box in the ground. Put a 20AH sealed battery in the box, and a Morningstar Sunsaver charge controller. 65 feet away, installed a 40 watt panel (overkill, just what I had on hand for now) on a post.



Since the outhouse is in the woods, and our neighbor has a large field, we needed to get a solar panel to the edge of our property where it could get sun.



I’ve been able to watch the controller now here and there. The 1.4W fan runs constantly. Even with the outhouse windows and door closed, it's pulling some air in and through the stack. (You can feel the breeze a bit when seated! )

Verdict so far is that it has elminated all smells inside. I may need to add some screen on the vent for flies, and I’ll be adding a light for night time use, but so far, meeting expectations! Used it a week ago when about 24 degrees outside, and was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it seemed even in the cold.

Time will tell how it holds up!









Specs: 5' deep, 5 1/2' Wide (32" door, enough room for the inswing, and enough room to comfortably remove a jacket, etc when in the cold/hunting )

Fiberglass toilet cone source here
Fan Source here

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 12:09 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
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Nice outhouse Nate R.
This is what I use in my outhouse for odor:
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silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 12:24 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
Reply 


^^It is all natural and really helps. If you don't live in Canada you can order it Online.^^
I also use gardeners lime to keep flys away. This is what was used in the old days before indoor plumbing.

I also added a sink. I'll bet your wife would like that!
I was not able to find the photo of my sink. I got the idea from this photo I found Online.
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KelVarnsen
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 13:22
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Hey Nate,

Great job on the outhouse. I really love the exterior stain. Do you mind letting me know the brand and colour details? Thanks!

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 14:28
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Very nice job Nate. Add 12V LED's for night, small gutter to catch rain to a container for washing hands outside, magazine rack w/ reading material, pictures on the walls, etc. Just like home. The rock work around the outside was a nice touch. +1 on the lime.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 15:50
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I believe there is another thread on this site with photos of outhouses and lots of good decor ideas.
That where I have photos posted of our outhouse.I am on the constant lookout for interesting items to use for decor both In the exterior and interior of our outhouse.

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 22:05
Reply 


An outhouse fit for a queen.

The National Forest concrete vault toilets use 8-10 inch diameter vent pipes, and they still stink. The fan is the best way to go for positive, continual air flow.

Nice job.

Salty Craig
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 22:40
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I have outhouse envy. I'm full of turkey and that looks inviting. It's really nice enough to have a sleeping loft. Maybe just for naps or if you need to hide?

Love it!!

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 24 Nov 2016 22:42
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Quoting: KelVarnsen
I really love the exterior stain. Do you mind letting me know the brand and colour details?


Thanks!

It's Behr Premium Semi-Transparent, Stonehedge is the color.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/BEHR-Premium-1-gal-ST-125-Stonehedge-Semi-Transparent-Weat herproofing-Wood-Stain-507701/203939591

It's latex based stain, so it's more like a thin paint the way it goes on. There was a bit of a learning curve to applying it.

KelVarnsen
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2016 10:29
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Thanks for the info Nate.

fitzpatt
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2016 14:54
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Great project! Looks very comfortable. May I ask where you acquired the fan? Thanks

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2016 15:13
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Quoting: fitzpatt
May I ask where you acquired the fan?


It's Sun-Mar's lower power fan for their composting toilets. At the time, I found it via Google on Hayneedle.com

But, if you just google " sun-mar 12 volt fan 1.4 watt " and look at shopping results, you can find it in a few different places.

spoofer
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2016 08:33
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I think if you had run your vent pipe straight up, it would have vented better. I built a simular size outhouse a few years ago, but vented it up on the inside from the toilet seat platform. You need to have a small vent on the outside down low to add air to the poopp hole. I have some busy weekends at the cabin with no odor.
outhouse
outhouse


aktundra
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2016 09:00
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Thanks for the idea on the fan Nate. I've been trying to find a fan for the outhouse. I read about an attic fan that would work too without electricity but I've been unable to find one.

Atlincabin
Member
# Posted: 26 Nov 2016 15:04
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So question for the electronics folks on here: is it possible/reasonable to just wire one of these little 12V fans directly to a solar panel so it runs when the sun shines? Or is the intermediate step of a battery necessary? I don't really care if it runs full blast all the time, or at night, as long as there is occasionally some assistance with the ventilation.

Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2017 21:50
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I've helped install/move many toilets on local 4wd trails, including prefabbing four in my back yard.
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Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2017 21:56
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The snow load on the unsupported front section was breaking fascia boards, posts were added to prevent that.
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Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2017 22:08
Reply 


I also helped the horsemen install one in the backcountry. They put a shower in theirs, and use shower bags. I have the plans for these, but the battery is no good on the laptop they're on right now. We use a much bigger vent pipe, and don't need a fan.
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Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2017 22:11
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Vent pipe.
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Big Ed
Member
# Posted: 8 Jan 2017 23:53
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More of the vent pipe. Also that's a sonotube in the ground, they cut a hole in it for the vent.
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SE Ohio
Member
# Posted: 13 Jan 2017 13:24 - Edited by: SE Ohio
Reply 


Quoting: Atlincabin
So question for the electronics folks on here: is it possible/reasonable to just wire one of these little 12V fans directly to a solar panel so it runs when the sun shines? Or is the intermediate step of a battery necessary?


Some 12 volt solar panels max out about 22-23 volts open circuit, no load (nothing connected, panel wires separated, voltmeter connected). Some of the cheap auto accessory "cigarette lighter" extension cords (Walmart, etc) take 12-24 volts input and output 12 volts and have a couple of 5v USB outlets. Just cut off the "cigarette lighter" type plug and connect to solar panel leads, + to +, - to -. No battery required.
Might be perfect for your setup with a 12 volt fan, just don't forget and leave your phone charging in the outhouse...
Edit- Added (poor) photo. There are 12 volt automotive fans that plug into a cigarette lighter outlet, easy connection.
Potential 24 to 12 volt converter
Potential 24 to 12 volt converter


WILL1E
Member
# Posted: 4 Sep 2020 09:29
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@Nate R... How did you seal the clear roof panels so that bugs and such can't get in through the ribbing? Did you just use the adhesive foam strips they sell at Menards for the steel panel products?

WILL1E
Member
# Posted: 4 Sep 2020 09:34
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@Nate R... also, looks like you did a traditional privy (no tank). Did the country require you to get boring samples?

Ontario lakeside
Member
# Posted: 4 Sep 2020 10:26
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Atlincabin
Quoting: Atlincabin
is it possible/reasonable to just wire one of these little 12V fans directly to a solar panel so it runs when the sun shines



Yes. That us what we do, we power a 2 dollar computer fan (installed in the vent pipe) from a small panel. I expect the fan will fail at some point but so far so good.

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 6 Sep 2020 09:12
Reply 


WILL1E, Yes. I had to get someone who was licensed to do septic soil surveys out. He used a backhoe to dig a hole 7 ft down (They have to check 3 ft below the bottom of your privy), and confirmed there was no groundwater right underneath and that I wasn't on bedrock. He filled it back in to 4 ft or so, and filled out a quick report on what soils were there, where it is, etc. He filed the permit paperwork for me with the county, and I got a Non-Plumbing Sanitation permit back from the county. In order to get my building permit, I needed this to be able to not have a septic system.

At the time, it cost me $500 for the excavator/soil sample guy and the $150 for the permit.

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