Separett Composting Toilet Frequently Asked Questions
This detailed post should answer most frequently asked questions regarding Separett composting toilets. Please add your own questions, and I will answer them.
How often should the toilet be emptied?
If four people are using the toilet on a daily basis, then a container will last about 3 weeks, depending on how much toilet paper is being used. The Separett Villa comes with one container. When full the contents are usually disposed of in a compost bin on your property. Please see my page on composting human waste.
How is it possible that the container with solids so rarely has to be emptied?
Urine accounts for about 85% of the waste volume and is routed separately away from the toilet. This increases the storage capacity for solids greatly.
Are there unpleasant odors indoors?
No. If the fan runs continuously the there will be no unpleasant odors in the room. When installing the toilet, make sure that the venting pipe is properly sealed with silicone. The easily accessible fan filter should be cleaned
regularly as well as the insect net at the end of ventilation pipe.
Are there unpleasant odors outdoors?
No. Because the urine and feces are not mixed, there is never any latrine-type odor from a Separett toilet. A certain amount of odor may be present outdoors, however, when and shortly after the toilet is used. If the venting can be routed to the back of the house, it is usually suffice to just route it straight through the wall. If the venting pipe must be routed through the gables or to the front of the house, it should be extended upwards or routed through the roof.
Are there unpleasant odors from the leaching bed/soak-away?
No. It does not smell since the urine is let out under ground where it percolates harmlessly away. The drain rocks in the leaching bed are usually covered with landscape cloth, topsoil and grass. There is no way this can smell if done correctly.
Are there unpleasant odors from the Separett Ejektortank?
No. The urine odor is drawn into the toilet through the hose and then blown through the toilet ventilation system. By the time it is expelled outdoors, it has been mixed with so much air that the odor is unnoticeable.
Must the urine waste pipe contain a Ubend, water seal (otherwise known as a p- trap)?
Usually not. The faint odor that may come from urine is drawn out through the venting pipe with the aid of the fan.
Is there any odor when I spray the diluted liquid on plants?
Not usually. There may be a very faint, temporary odor. It depends on the extent to which it is diluted with water. If a Separett Ejektortank is used, 1 liter of urine is mixed with 10 liters of water. This may result in a faint odor, but it will soon disappear. You can speed the process by adding more water or spreading the mixture at night or when it rains. This makes exceptionally good fertilizer!
Are flies a problem with these toilets?
Problems with flies are uncommon with Separett toilets. There is a screen on the vent. Keep the fan switched on at all times just to be sure.
Should the fan operate continually?
Yes. This keeps the housing dry and extends the lifetime of the fan. If the fan has to be switched off, place the lid on the container and remove it.
Which is the best method for routing the venting pipe, through the roof or straight through the wall?
It is always easier to go straight through the wall. When routing the venting pipe through the roof, the work is more difficult, as is ensuring good seals. Remember not to route the venting pipe to the house entrance or other places where people gather.
How much airflow does the fan create?
There is no simple answer to this question because the airflow is very dependent on the length of the venting pipe and the number of bends it contains.
Is an additional fan needed if you have a shower in the same room?
No! All ventilation from the bathroom shall go through the toilet fan that runs continually.
Does the venting pipe need insulating?
The Separett Villa toilet has a condensation collector and does not need to be insulated.
Can the ventilation be run through a chimney stack?
No. We advise against it since moisture from the bathroom can destroy the mortar joints. Also, the plastic ventilation pipe can melt if it is run through the chimney stack.
Where do I lead the urine?
You have three options for the urine outlet:
1) connect the hose to the greywater system.
2) make a simple leaching bed/soakaway.
3) use a tank such as the Separett Ejektortank.
Please check local regulations.
Can I extend the urine outlet?
Yes. If you need to extend the included 2 meter (6,56 feet) hose; a pipe is preferable. With a hose it is difficult to ensure a drop for the entire length. Indoors, we recommend waste water pipes with a diameter of 32-40 mm (1 ¼” -1 ½”) and outdoors pipes with a diameter of 50-75 mm (2″ -3″).
Does the urine waste freeze in the winter?
Not under normal circumstances. Urine freezes at about -5ºC (23ºF). Ensure that the urine waste pipe has a drop along its entire length and use at least 50 mm (2″) pipe outdoors. It may also be a good idea to insulate the piping sections that run outdoors.
How can I make a simple leaching bed/soak-away? (Also called a French Drain)
Dig a small hole in the ground, measuring about 2′ X 2′ X 2′ deep. Fill it with rocks. Before covering the leaching bed with soil, put landscaping cloth over the stones to prevent clogging. The urine outlet can be led through or under the plastic film. Please a check with local authorities if in doubt.
Am I allowed to connect the urine waste hose to the greywater system?
Urine is sterile and does not pose a health risk. However, the regulations vary. Please ask local authorities.
How steep a drop must the urine waste pipe have?
It is important that the urine waste pipe drops along its entire length, so gravity can drain all liquids. A steeper downward drop lessens the risk for deposit build-up of urine salts or ice.
Is it possible to reduce the risk of urine salt deposit build-up in the urine outlet?
Yes. We recommend rinsing the urine basin with a small cup of water after each visit. You can also place the Separett Bio Drain Cleaner in the urine basin. This tablet contains enzymes that prevent urine salt deposits in the urine pipe. However, if you still get blocks in the urine outlet use a liquid drain un-blocker.
Is it possible to lengthen the hose on the Separett Ejektortank?
Yes, the included 10 meter (33-feet) emptying hose can be lengthened up to a maximum of 20 meters (66-feet) and only with a ¾” hose. Do not use a normal garden hose adapter as a connector, as it clamps too tightly around the hose. Before you can lengthen the hose, remove the spray nozzle by heating the hose and the handle with, for example, warm water or a hot air gun. Use a piece of pipe and two clamps to make the joint. As a suggestion cut about 5 cm (2″) of the Ejektortank nozzle and use it as the pipe for the joint.
Maintenance and care
Do I ever have to add anything?
In the container inside the toilet, the contents should be left to dry and lose volume. Some people use a Separett Absorb in the bag inside the container, since it keeps the contents dry and thereby odorless.
Does the toilet function well for women?
Yes. The urine bowl has been tried and tested by both older and younger women to ensure that the urine is separated into the right place.
Does the toilet function well for small children?
Yes. A smaller urine separating child seat is available as an option with the Separett Villa.
Which type of toilet paper should I use?
You can use normal toilet paper.
Should I throw toilet paper in the container?
Yes, toilet paper helps keeping the contents of the container dry and divided which facilitates the handling after the storage period.
Does the toilet function in cold rooms?
Yes. Separett toilets are not room temperature dependent. Cool temperatures may slow down or stop the composting process, but it will resume when things warm up. Much of the composting actually takes place later, when you have removed the inner bin and set it aside as instructed.
Can I use bags in the container?
Yes. All our toilets are supplied with bags in order to simplify cleaning the container.
Can I use compostable waste bags?
Yes. We recommend using Separett Compostable waste bag since it designed to endure the conditions inside the toilet and during the storage period. It will slowly disintegrate in the ground or in a composter.
How long time does it take until the Separett Compostable waste bag disintegrates?
There is no simple answer to this question because the disintegration is depending of the biological activity in the ground or composter and to the exposure of sunlight. Since the bag is designed to endure the conditions inside the container, it will also disintegrate slowly in the ground or in a composter.
Can the toilet tolerate freezing temperatures?
Yes. Composting may be delayed.
What do I do when the container is full?
Put the lid over the container, tilt the container towards you and use the sliding surfaces to remove the container from the toilet. Once removed, open the lid, and put a shovel full of dirt or compost on top. Replace the lid. Leave a slight opening for air circulation. Place the container in a suitable location outdoors. Let it sit for six months, then put it on non-edible plants.
What happens with the solids inside the container during the 6 month storage period?
The bacteria in the soil “consume” the fecal pathogens, thereby rendering the contents harmless. It is then ready to be placed in a composting bin for use on non-edible plants or buried.
If I use the Separett Ejektortank only in the summer, what should I do in the winter?
Before winter you should empty the Ejektortank, since urine freezes at -5ºC (23ºF) and can cause the container and its pipes to break. If you still use the toilet wintertime one can choose to collect the urine in suitable containers for use in springtime or you can pipe the urine to a leaching bed, soak-away or to the greywater system.
Do I need to obtain permission from the authorities before installing the toilet?
Most areas now approve of and support the use of composting toilets. However, regulations may vary. Please check carefully.
Are flies a problem?
Not usually. Please see my detailed post on preventing flies here.
Can I install the toilet myself?
Yes. There are not usually any problems for the competent handy-person. Its a simple job that could also be done by a professional at low cost.
What tools do I need?
The tools you need depend on the installation choices you make for the urine outlet and the ventilation pipe. This is a list of the most probably tools that may come handy: Screwdriver, hacksaw – to cut the ventilation pipe knife – to cut the urine hose, hole saws for the urine outlet and the ventilation pipe, carpenter’s level, a power drill and tape. Your installation may involve specific challenges, and additional tools. Call us, or check with a local handyman or carpenter if in doubt.
Where can I buy one?
Call 1 888 361 0014 – toll free in North America.
If you have any other Separett FAQ (questions) please let me know.